How Megan McKenna is putting her chequered past behind her in search of a new beginning


THERE’S something very different about Megan McKenna. And its not just her noticeably less trouty pout, which well come to later because, really, how could we not mention The Lips?

No, aside from all that, the country singer who shot to fame as the unlucky-in-love reality star with a tenuous grip on anger management (remember that jaw-dropping tantrum in the diary room on CBB 2016, for which she was temporarily removed from the house by security?) is a changed woman.

Megan McKenna sat down to chat with Fabulous’ Beth Neil about her sudden transformation

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As she prepares to launch a music career off the back of The X Factor: Celebrity, shes calmer, softer, way more rational and impossible to reconcile with the seething, screaming, snarling girl viewers of Ex On The Beach, CBB and TOWIE will be familiar with.

Im a completely different person these days, says Megan. Ive done so much growing up. I know people see me as Mental Megs if Id watched me, Id think: Oh god, I dont like her. But the truth is I was just a broken, upset young girl and I didnt really know what I was getting myself into.

When I came out of Big Brother and saw it all back, I was like: Oh my god, my mouth! My nans going to kill me. I just cant behave like that. Id be trying to express myself, but it would come out all wrong.

Much of Megans frustration and distress, she says, stemmed from the psychological hangover of having been bullied at school an experience that left her with poor self-esteem and simmering resentment.

Megan is no longer the seething, screaming, snarling girl viewers of Ex On The Beach, CBB and TOWIE would recognise

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She was angry and unhappy and those insecurities came to the fore (often with the help of alcohol) on reality shows where conflict was provoked and actively encouraged.

We also saw it happen during her explosive, toxic 18-month on/off relationship with Pete Wicks on TOWIE and shes the first to admit that she was hopeless at handling tension her instinct was always to blow up.

Youre put into negative scenarios where youre going to react in a certain way. Whether youre on screen being cheated on or having an argument with your best friend, its never going be a happy scene, is it?

But Ive had therapy and I deal with things so much better now. If I feel theres any weird tension or not a very nice vibe going on, I just remove myself from the situation.

She shot to fame as the unlucky-in-love reality star with a light grip on anger management, but now she’s a changed woman

It doesnt take long in Megans company to know shes a good person a sweetheart, really and so its cheering to hear her talking with common sense and perspective.

This has been a particularly difficult year for her personally, following the death of ex-boyfriend Mike Thalassitis in March, who she dated for much of 2018.


Megan, 27, has never spoken publicly about the tragedy and its made clear ahead of the interview that she wont cant talk about it today. However, she does allude to it, saying shes had professional help to support her.

Obviously, this year Ive had a few little panic attacks, she says, cautiously. Ive had therapy, because as much as I have people around me to talk to, speaking to someone I dont really know just helps me to deal with emotions and put things in the right place.

Alongside therapy, giving up drinking has been key in turning things around. In her bestselling 2018 autobiography Mouthy, Megan wrote about using alcohol to rid demons and decided to quit completely at the start of this year.

Megan explains her extreme behaviour, saying ‘the truth is I was just a broken, upset young girl and I didnt really know what I was getting myself into’

She realised her insecurities were taking over – even manifesting in her relationships

I realised I didnt want to be doing that any more, she says. I would go out and get paralytic. Im talking downing the Jgerbombs like you would not believe. I dont know how I did it.

“I was necking them three in a line, tequila, Sambuca And I was waking up in the morning with my face all swollen from the alcohol. Im coeliac and Id constantly have a bad belly from a night out. Some nights Id go to the toilet, be sick and then go back and carry on drinking. I was abusing my body.

She says the celebrity lifestyle with its endless events and free bars can be dangerous.

Its constant. There are events on all the time in London and because I get nervous going to things, Id down my drinks quickly. I used to think if I didnt have a drink it was going to be a rubbish night, so Id drink purely to get drunk.

Since undergoing therapy, she’s come to terms with her frustrations and deals with things much better

And then the morning after is just the worst feeling. Im a mess and I cant deal with it. It actually gives me anxiety now just thinking about it, so I cant do that to myself any more.

The all-new Megan is hoping that taking part in The X Factor: Celebrity, which started on ITV last night, will give her a second chance.

Music has always been her first love shes been plugging away for years writing, recording, performing and looking for a break as a country artist and this is an opportunity to show there is more to her than volatility and drama.

Anyone who has seen her sing live will know she has a truly beautiful voice and that her self-penned songs are quirky, clever and catchy, but Megan realises she has more to prove than most.

I know people judge me from the shows Ive been on, but I was growing up on telly, making mistakes, saying stupid things.

Its difficult coming from reality TV and crossing over into music, but I feel the show could possibly be that point for me. Like, fully. Im just so happy X Factor came up. I feel like people are going to really see my love for music and how happy it makes me.

She also turned to therapy to help deal with the death of ex-boyfriend Mike Thalassitis, but it’s something she’s not publicly talking about right now

Are people surprised when they hear her sing for the first time? Always. Theyre like: Oh my god, you speak like a chav but your voice sounds so lovely.

Another move in her bid to be taken seriously has been the dramatic image overhaul the Essex uniform of big hair, big lips and lashings of fake tan has been ditched. Megan had the filler in her lips dissolved and has deleted a raft of photos she can no longer bear to look at.

Im mortified looking back at some of my old pictures. I spent three years pumping it in, pumping it in, thinking: Theyre not big enough, lets get some more.

I became obsessed with my lips. Id take a photo of myself and if I didnt think they looked big enough Id make them bigger with an editing app.

Megan chats about her image overhaul and looks back on her time on TOWIE when she had the ‘uniform of big hair, big lips and lashings of fake tan’

Honestly I think I had body dysmorphia, because when I look back at pictures of myself now I am horrified. I look like a duck. I dont know how they didnt bump into things! I cant believe what I looked like.


And no one could tell me. No one. Not my mum or anyone. It sounds pathetic, but I thought Id look ugly without them.

She remembers opening for Michael Bubl in Hyde Park last summer and how it should have been the pinnacle of her career so far.

But every headline the next day was about me and my big lips. Id left my job on TOWIE to really smash this and so to have everything become about my lips was upsetting. I want people to be talking about my voice I dont want people looking at my lips.

I think I realised I was never going to be taken seriously while I had fillers, so I decided they had to go. I had so much in there. I didnt just have one lot of dissolvent, I had to have two!

I thought no one was going to like me without them but after the second week, I saw myself and thought: Hold on, I look all right. I think Id lost sight of what a normal face looked like.

She confesses she struggled with her body image but was happy to have her lip fillers removed

“I was trying to mould myself into something I wasnt. And now I think it looks ridiculous. I know I look better natural and I will never go down that route again. Its just not nice.

Performing is a dream Megan has harboured since childhood. Her younger years were spent going to various auditions and travelling all over the country for singing competitions.

In 2009 she got through to the semi-finals of BGT as one half of duo Harmony and made it as far as the six-chair challenge on X Factor in 2014, but nothing came from either. By the time Ex On The Beach came up the following year, she felt she was running out of options.

I was changing jobs every week doing bar work and I didnt really have any money. I got a job at an estate agent and I hated it, I had no clue what to do. But then MTV messaged me. Theyd seen me out and about and it started from there.

She says she’d lost sight of what a normal face looked like and that she was trying to mould herself into something she wasn’t

I remember I was in a really boring meeting learning about estate agents and I got the phone call. I excused myself, took the call and they told me I was on the show and flying to Mexico. I walked back into the meeting and said: Sorry, Ive gotta go. And I never went back.

She says if shed known what lay ahead, she might never have boarded the flight. I thought it was a new dating show thats how they pitch it to you and I was just happy to get away.

Id just broken up with my boyfriend and was really low and upset and it probably wasnt the right time for me to go on it. Honestly, that show is agg.

“I think if Id known what it was from the start I probably wouldnt have done it because I would have been worried about my ex coming on. He didnt, but they brought on the girl hed slept with so it was just as bad.

The infamous stint on CBB followed before Megan joined TOWIE as the best mate of Chloe Meadows. She spent a turbulent 18 months on the show before quitting in 2017 after experiencing betrayal and heartbreak and losing friends in the process.

Maybe it was a blessing in disguise because I left knowing who my real friends were. I learned that its not all about having a big group of girls, its about having people you trust.

The last…

Book you read?

Ive not read a book in so long. I think its my own. No joke.

Movie you watched?

Bridesmaids. My favourite film of all time.

Box set you watched?

Manifest. Ive nearly finished it. Its really good, about a plane going missing.

Time you were drunk?

Probably the finale of Celebs Go Dating in February.

Time you cried?

A few nights ago on stage when I was talking about my grandad.

Kiss you had?

Ha! From my mum last night saying how proud she was of me.

Most of the time on TOWIE I felt like I was in a corner. There would be times when everyone would be all right with me, but when me and Pete split the whole cast turned against me. And bear in mind what happened with me and him [Pete was caught sexting other women].

It was making me so depressed the drama and arguments over the stupidest things that on the show become the worst thing in the world.

I just got to the point where it was not what I wanted to be doing. I wanted to be doing positive things, surrounding myself with positive people.

Travelling to Nashville in 2017 to film her fly-on-the-wall show Theres Something About Megan proved to be a turning point. She found somewhere she felt at home and it renewed her determination to make it in music.

I felt like I belonged there. No joke, Nashville was the point where I said to myself: I cant be behaving [like that] and losing my s**t about silly things any more.

I came back in such a good headspace. Everyone was finally seeing what I loved to do and staying on TOWIE would have meant being dragged back into drama.

Now Megan is leaving her TOWIE days behind and focusing on her career as a singer

“Me and Pete split up again and I just thought: I dont want to be doing this and having my personal life on camera, so I made the decision to leave halfway through the series and Ive never once regretted it.

To make it in the US you need to be the first or be completely different. Well, Im definitely the first Essex girl trying to crack it in Nashville! As long as you have got a good story behind the music and you sing from the heart, its country. All of my songs are relatable.


If anyone ever wants to know anything about my personal life, they just need to listen to the lyrics in my songs, because thats where all my little secrets are.

Standing in front of Simon Cowell again for The X Factor: Celebrity 10 years after that first BGT audition was an emotional experience not to mention nerve-wracking. Viewers will see her performance on Saturday.

I always feel like Simon is the one. Ive been trying to crack the music industry for years and suddenly Im there singing for him in his garden in Malibu and I couldnt believe I was there. The whole day was emotional.

His house is unreal. Its all white and I love that because my house is, too, but his is on another level. All glass windows, big fireplaces Just perfection.

She says that opening for Michael Bubl in Hyde Park last summer was the pinnacle of her career so far

She says she occasionally sees the girls who made her life a misery at school and takes some satisfaction in the fact shes come out on top.

When I first got my Range Rover, I was driving down my road and one of the girls was pulling out in this really Im not mugging little cars off because Ive had a KA, but obviously Im in this Range Rover.

Anyway, she was in this little battered car. And as I drove past I caught her eye and I thought: Good. Shell know. Theyll all know who they are. And I just think Ive got nothing to be angry about now.

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