Hi, Nadine! Have you found it frustrating that you’ve not emulated the success of Girls Aloud in your solo career yet?
How I feel is always changing. Even though we were such a great band, there were ups and downs there, too. The overall memory that everyone has is that we got to do all of these amazing things, but there were struggles and hard times to get to those places. I think the difference is now I enjoy it a lot more. Ultimately, I’m self-employed and I get to pick and choose what I do. I’m in a comfortable place that I’ve been trying to get to for a while. I’m there now and it feels good.
Do you have any regrets?
I have loads. Around the time that Girls Aloud was at its biggest, I was offered some huge acting roles in America. I decided to stay loyal to the band rather than take those other opportunities. Sometimes I wonder whether I should have just taken them. But I can’t get mad thinking about it – I just have to believe it wasn’t meant to be. I’m definitely not the type of person who can say I don’t regret anything, though, because I do.
Where’s home for you these days?
I’ve always had a base in both London and Northern Ireland. I’m either here or there or I’m working somewhere. This summer I’ve had live shows all over, but I always come back home to London.
What’s everyday life like for you?
It’s totally normal – and it always has been. Even at the busiest times when I was in Girls Aloud, my house was my sanctuary. When I come home, I switch off and there’s no work involved. I love to cook and hang out with my husband Jason [Bell, 41, a former American football star and NFL pundit] and our daughter Anaiya, five. We’re a very close family.
So you’ve never allowed fame to intrude on your privacy?
No. I made that conscious decision from the beginning. In the Girls Aloud days, we would have meetings where we would sit with a PR and make up stories [to feed to the press]. I was always really uncomfortable with it – it felt like we were building a glass house. I don’t want to be in the newspapers or to feel like I have to manipulate things to make my life seem a way it’s not. I’m happy with how things are. My focus has always been on being a singer. It’s easy enough to keep it private.
Cheryl has really struggled with life in the public eye. Do you think she could have had more privacy if she’d wanted to from the start?
I think it’s best not to talk about that. Everybody has their own path and everybody does what they want. I’m all for the way I do it, but I can only say that from my view.
Anaiya has just finished her first year at school – how has she found it?
It’s just flown by. At the end of term she won an award for Most Improved, and we went to the prize-giving ceremony as a family. I was a full-on hooligan, I really was. I stood on a chair and shouted and screamed at my sister to get the camera out.
Is she a little performer, too?
She is. She’s hilarious. She makes up songs and sings all the time. It’s funny because she’s developed this undetectable accent. She’s got a mix of Irish, Jason’s American accent and also bits from her English school.
Do you think you want to have any more kids?
I come from a big Irish Catholic family, which is really full on, so another one would fit in perfectly. I probably wouldn’t even notice another one – there’s so many of us! I enjoyed the whole experience the first time round so if it were to happen I would be happy, but I’m not thinking about another one right now.
How has motherhood changed you?
I’ve actually always been the “mum” friend in my girl groups. I think that’s something people don’t really know about me – I like to make sure that everyone is all right. Plus, I was always the local babysitter at home in Derry and I grew up with my older sister Charmaine having kids, so I saw that being a mum was hard from a young age. I didn’t have a rose-tinted view of what it would be like, which I think is the reason it hasn’t changed me drastically. I do get a lot of Catholic guilt about leaving Anaiya to go on tour, though.
Sarah Harding recently said that you’d been texting – when was the last time you spoke to the others?
I haven’t seen Sarah since Anaiya was a baby. We used to text or FaceTime occasionally, but I haven’t seen any of the rest of them. We don’t have any mutual friends or crossovers, so I haven’t come across them at all. We don’t really work with any of the same people any more.
Could we get a Spice-Girls-style Girls Aloud reunion at some point?
I would really like to. I reckon so – there’s no law against it. Never say never on that one!