In 2010, Roz Purcell travelled to the US to participate in the Donald Trump-led Miss Universe competition. These days, she's a successful food blogger with a bestselling book to her credit. In a highly revealing interview, she discusses her views on Repeal the Eighth, sex, drugs and much else besides.
Rozanna aka Roz Purcell was thrust into the limelight in 2010, when she won Miss Universe Ireland – and travelled to the States to participate in the Donald Trump-led international beauty competition. Having worked as a model, she has since gone on to become a successful food blogger, with the best-selling book Natural Born Feeder to her credit. And she is currently starring in RTÉ’s Taste of Success. In this exclusive interview, the real Roz Purcell stands up.
Looks can be deceiving. Rozanna Purcell may have had the appearance of a diva when she was snapped posing with Donald Trump – yep, the same man – back in 2010, as part of the Miss Universe pageant. Rest assured, Roz is nothing of the sort. For one, there’s been a radical overhaul in her looks and style since those snaps were taken of Trump cosying up to her. She may look fantastic, but she comes across as an affable, intelligent and regular young woman. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, but, at the same time, she is passionate about food and life.
Roz was casually dressed, as she sat down at her kitchen table, with her dog beside her feet, for this interview. She didn’t shy away from any of the questions. It’s probably fair to describe this as the most revealing interview she’s ever done.
Roz first burst onto the international scene when she won the Miss Universe Ireland pageant in 2010. The former UCD student – she'd been doing a BA in history and politics – decided to drop out of college to pursue a modelling career.
She was placed in the Top 10 at Miss Universe 2010. The annual competition is organised by Donald Trump, who took a shine to her and signed Roz to his Trump Models agency. Roz seemed to be on her way to supermodel status. Then, she took the surprising decision to walk away from the international modelling world.
Back in Ireland, she was an instant hit, appearing on several TV shows and gracing magazine covers, including Hot Press’ Best of Dublin. She has consistently been in the gossip columns thanks to high-profile relationships, first with Niall Breslin aka Bressie of The Blizzards fame, and latterly with her new beau, Zach Desmond, son of the hugely successful Caroline and Denis Desmond of MCD. Along the way, the now 26-year-old decided to make a radical career change. She started her own food blog, Natural Born Feeder, with a focus on healthy eating. Her first cookbook was published in January 2016, and became a smash hit. And she is now starring on RTÉ’s Taste of Success programme.
Jason O’Toole: Tell me about your childhood.
Roz Purcell: I had a typical Irish country upbringing – I grew up on a horse farm and we had cows as well. I spent most of my time looking after cattle and stables with my dad. We lived in the middle of nowhere, and weren’t really allowed to have Playstations or watch TV. I was always outdoors. I think that’s paid off now, in that I love sports and being active.
Growing up, were other girls resentful of you being pretty?
No way! I was the girl who was way more into sports. My appearance wasn’t a priority. I was that girl who’d come to school with really frizzy hair.
I’d never seen myself as pretty and I don’t think anyone else did.
Do you feel embarrassed talking about sex, or do you take it in your stride?
Everyone does it! It’s not like it’s against the law or anything. So, yeah.
As a teenager, did you feel any peer pressure about losing your virginity?
No. I definitely didn’t have that. It’s funny, in our group – how can I say this in a really nice way? – we were basically all into sports and trying to get the best grades. I was a kinda goody-two-shoes (laughs). So our group was very much like there was no pressure. It was more like, ‘Do not have sex (laughs)! We're going to wait until we get married’.
Surely some of your friends were having sex?
I remember finding out a lot of my friends had sex years after – nobody wanted to tell you because they didn’t want to get a bad name (laughs).
How old were you when you lost your virginity? (Laughs) I’m going red! All I’ll say about it is: I was actually quite old and it was a boyfriend I had for a
very a long time.
It sounds like it was in your early twenties?
Yeah, it was like early twenties. And that was because of all the sex talks we were given as children! (laughs).
I presume that the sex education of your generation was as substandard as mine. Do you think the government should be focusing more on educating young people about sex?
Sex education in Ireland is very poor. I look back to the sex talks we had in school and the things we were being told left me feeling way more confused than before you went in. And now you are like, ‘Oh my God (laughs)! How did I even believe that?’ There needs to be a huge amount of sex education – especially now we’re all having the discussion around Repeal the Eighth.
"I remember walking down in my bikini, in heels, and it was a live show on CNN. And coming off the stage and going, ‘Okay, if I can do that, I’ll never be scared of doing anything else in life because millions of people were watching."
The infamous Fr Michael Cleary came into my classroom to give us a talk on sex education, while smoking endless cigarettes! I remember him telling us, “Make sure you always wear a condom – and don’t smoke!” Which is ironic considering he fathered two children himself!
Sex education was so non-existent that I didn’t hear about periods until I was 13!
(Laughs) Look, I’d say there’s a load of guys who still don’t know what it is!
How important is sex to you?
To be honest with you, that’s actually a tough question. It’s not like it’s something I think everything is about – but I think it’s a huge part of a relationship, because it’s about connection.
Are you the broody type?
No! Even when I am around kids, to be quite honest, they scare me! I look at my older sisters Rebecca and Rachel: Rebecca has been with her boyfriend for 14 years and Rachel’s been with her boyfriend for eight years – they have no plans for getting engaged. I don’t think they’ll get married and probably really don’t want to have kids.
Will you want to get married?
It’s not something that’s ever really been in my head – as in: I’m not the girl who’s been going,
‘Oh, it’s my perfect wedding dress. I can’t wait. I’ve picked it out’. I suppose if somebody said to me now, gun to head, ‘You have a choice: to see the kids or not’, I would like to see what they would be like – but I’m not maternal. I’d be a lot more into career and stuff.
What’s your view on the Eighth Amendment? Yeah, I’m pro-choice. I haven’t spoken too much about it in interviews because I am afraid that my words will be taken out of context. It’s really hard. When you’re in the public eye, people feel like you shouldn’t have an opinion. Even when I posted it online, a lot of people’s response was that I shouldn’t be influencing people. I said, ‘It’s my choice. Whatever your choice is, I respect it, so respect mine’. It is hard sometimes when you have an opinion that you know a lot of people won’t agree with. You don’t speak because you know there’s going to be a backlash.
But the Repeal the Eighth campaign needs high profile women to speak out to highlight how important this issue is.
It’s a really delicate subject, particularly when you’re talking to somebody who mightn’t have the same opinion. I can understand the viewpoints on both sides. At the end of the day, I’ve re-educated myself on both arguments and it’s something I’ve talked about – and I’ve decided I’m pro-choice.
You must have known people who’ve endured that terrible experience of flying over to England for a termination?
I do know one girl, but she only told me years after. I’m good friends with a lot of people who set up Repeal the Eighth. And just reading stories about so many girls who have gone over, I can’t believe she went through all of that by herself.
It has to be a traumatic experience…
One day we were looking up all the different stories and what the girls had to go through, in terms of all the steps. It’s really upsetting to know that so many girls had to go through it – and that they still have to, every single day.
It’s disgraceful that they have to make that emotionally painful journey abroad.
If someone’s going to go do it, they’re going to do it – but have a facility here for them, so they don’t have to make that long journey by themselves. You hear about really young and vulnerable girls that have no one to speak to about it because there’s such a stigma around it. Being a young female I can really relate to those stories. You can put yourself in their shoes. It’s quite emotional.
The government is looking at an Irish solution to an Irish problem: i.e. financing the repatriation costs of the foetus.
Oh my God! I didn’t know that. It’s really not nice. I can’t actually believe that – it sounds like something that would happen in Father Ted!
Would you consider having an abortion yourself? I guess you never know what you’d do in a different situation. For me, it would really depend. A lot of people would say, ‘Oh, it depends on my relationship or not’. It would actually depend on how I am
emotionally and, of course, financially. Like, am I able to support the child at the moment? I guess they would be my biggest two concerns. How am I? How I feel about it? Would I be able to emotionally handle taking care of a child? That would be my first question. And if I wasn’t, I would (have an abortion).
And would you take anything else into consideration if you were to have a termination?
Well, the second consideration would be: would I be able physically to take care of a child? And I guess I’m quite lucky – me and my family are so close that I’d have people to talk to. But they’re just the first two priorities and if they didn’t match, I probably would (have an abortion), yeah.
Am I right in surmising that you’d have an abortion without hesitation if you were raped?
Yeah. To be honest with you, even thinking about that now, you’d want to wipe anything to do with being raped. So, yeah, it would be a natural course for somebody to do that.
You must have had a good laugh at Enda Kenny recently talking about pornography…
It annoys me when you hear stuff like that. You know what? There’s a lot of other pressing issues that really do need to be spoken about at the moment.
Instead of going on about online porn, what would you tell Kenny to focus on?
Well, not that one issue’s more important than the other, but there’s obviously Repeal The Eighth; and there’s also the water crisis. The truth is that there’s so many things you can give out about online, and there’s so many pros and cons. You could say all our social media feeds have pornographic content by this stage, you know?
Do you think there’s any harm in online porn?
I don’t know because I’ve never really had firsthand experience, or I’ve never seen a negative effect on someone personally. I don’t really know, to be honest, is my answer.
Minister Eoghan Murphy said in an interview in Hot Press that the so-called Swedish model of criminalising the client in relation to prostitution is wrong. I kind of assume you’d see things the same way.
So, only the man gets arrested and the woman doesn’t? It’s unfair that the person handing over the cash would be the one that’s arrested!
There’s an argument that such a law will only drive it further underground.
People are still going to do it – they’re just going do it in more dangerous circumstances. It will just drive it completely underground and make it way more dangerous for everyone involved.
Do you think the so-called oldest profession in the world should be legalised?
This is kind of like the pornographic question. I’m so removed from it because it has never affected my life personally. I don’t really know anyone who’s been in that situation. I do know there’s a huge debate that it should be legalised, that it would be much safer for women and so on. But it’s such a hard one because why is the woman there in the first place – that she feels she has to do that job?
But is there anything wrong if a woman freely wants to work in the sex industry?
I guess the big thing is: you’d look at her safety. If she’s the one who’s saying, 'My safety’s fine’, then it’s her choice. But you’d have to look at the people who go to her. Why are they going? Why do they feel they need to pay for sex?
There might be people with special needs or even men caring for sick spouses who’re unable to have sexual relationships – but they still have a need for sex. Or a lonely farmer.
I never really thought about that. What you said to me now, I thought, ‘OK. I never really thought about all the different types of people’. This is it: you’re actually making me think about these questions. I’m one of these people – and it’s something I get from my parents – it’s very much like: if that’s your choice, that’s your choice. If someone is doing something that is not actually hurting anyone else, that’s fine.
So, you’d be open to the idea of legalising prostitution?
Yeah, I would. But first for me would be both parties’ safety. You came to prominence as the winner of a beauty contest, the Irish Miss Universe. What is your view now of the way in which competitions like that depict women?
There’s pros and cons. There’s obviously a lot of critics who come out saying, ‘It’s not a good platform for women’. It is what you make it. For me, it was such a huge learning experience. It was probably the thing – after going through secondary school and that environment – that really helped my confidence. I got to meet 96 different girls from all over the world and I got to learn so much about different cultures. I used it as a platform to go on and do other things.
Is it a good idea that you are measured according to how you look in a swimsuit?
For me, that really was a tough challenge. But, at the same time, I think, during that experience, I learnt to embrace the things I didn’t like about myself.
I always had an issue with my legs. I said, ‘I’m here now. I need to just get over that’. I remember walking down in my bikini, in heels, and it was a live show on CNN. And coming off the stage and going, ‘Okay, if I can do that, I’ll never be scared of doing anything else in life because millions of people were watching’. I was so nervous, but I got through it.
What about judging girls in such a fashion?
In terms of judging girls on their body, it’s part of the whole Miss Universe and Miss World thing. And there are other elements to the competition. It isn’t just about your looks or your body. We’re not there for the fun of it: we’re there for the three weeks for the judges to get to know us. It is a lot to do with personality. They’re looking for real women. They’re not looking for someone’s who has the perfect body either. People keep going back to the whole, ‘Is it right for girls to be in bikinis?’ But there’s girls in bikinis in millions of other competitions all over the world. Go online and you can’t look without seeing someone’s barely covered body (laughs)!
Do you think there’s too much pressure on young women and girls to look beautiful?
I definitely think – more so than the likes of the Miss Universe competition – social media is playing a big role in making girls feel a huge amount of pressure. I’ve been modelling for seven or eight years now and even for me, looking at social media, it’s does create this, ‘Oh, I’m going to need to be better!’ So, I can’t imagine what it’s like for young girls who haven’t even been in this industry.
Social media is not reality…
You have to reinforce to yourself that you’re only seeing the best part of someone’s life on social media. No one is going to put up an unflattering photo of themselves. So, we’re sometimes looking at unrealistic expectations. It’s an overwhelming amount of pressure.
"Some of the biggest mistakes in my life, turned out to be the best mistakes of my life! The only one I genuinely regret is giving up
Would you consider doing nudity?
Maybe a few years ago, when I was doing modelling, if it was done really artistically. But now I’ve moved on. I’m more of a foodie now. So, it would be a bit weird stripping off.
Would you consider plastic surgery in the future? You know what? Never say never. I’d say in a few years they won’t even need to do plastic surgery – there'll just be loads of machines that lift and tighten and all that type of stuff. I would never say never. But I would like to age gracefully. I wouldn’t want to become, you know, that Catwoman. Because I could definitely look like that. I’m one of these people who – I’ve a very addictive personality – once I start something I’d get really into it.
Do you regret that, back in 2010, you responded to a tweet by another of Trump’s then models, who suggested he should run for president by saying, ‘YES!!! I hope he does!’?
I’m not going, ‘I really, really, really regret that!’ Like, who would have thought he was actually going to run for president? You have to remember in 2010, I was just after being in Miss Universe. He was after bringing me over to New York and I was modelling with Trump Models. He was really nice to all of us. And the model who had originally put up the tweet is a Muslim American who is very much anti-Trump now. So, we'd both look back and go, ‘Really! He actually went for president? Who'd ever have thought he’d go for president!’ It’s like Kanye when he came out saying he’d go for president. Who knows? Maybe in four years times he’ll be running for election.
Do you think Donald Trump would make a good president?
It’s really, really hard because you’re voting between Trump and Hillary. I don’t know would I choose either of them.
If you had to?
I’d choose Hillary. The thing about it is it seems that Trump’s maybe a little bit of a puppet.
Did you have any bad experiences with him?
No. He was really nice to all of the Miss Universe contestants. And when I ended up moving to New York and modelling, he was just normal. I couldn’t really get over just how normal he was.
So, you’ve been shocked by all the controversies surrounding him?
Well, when I heard he was first running for presi-
dent I didn’t actually think it was serious (laughs). But then, when he was talking about his political views and immigration and not even believing in global warming: you’re just like, ‘How is someone so removed from reality that they can come out with these statements?’
A bit like Danny Healy-Rae, who told me recently that Noah’s Ark was proof that God was in charge of the weather?
I read that (laughs). I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ And then you think Trump doesn’t have a chance: it’s for the entertainment factor more than anything, but now he’s getting closer and closer and it seems like he’s still in the running.
A lot of people think that he is just a misogynistic pig. Is that fair?
Well, with everything that’s come out lately and all the video clips, you would agree with that, yeah.
Have you encountered many sexual predators in the world of modelling?
I think, particularly when you model abroad, there’s a fair amount of creepy crawlies (laughs). But I think most models would have that experience. And, in a way, you become so desensitised to it. It’s just kind of normal.
Have people tried to make inappropriate sexual advances?
Yeah. I would say mine were never hugely aggressive or anything. In a way, it’s terrible because I’d say, ‘They were harmless!’ But if it was a normal girl who wasn’t modelling, she would be completely freaked about it. But I always knew how to handle myself. It was very much they knew where they stood. Unfortunately, there’s probably loads of girls who do feel really vulnerable and feel like they have to, you know?
Were there situations where you were being groped and had to walk away?
Yeah, but that would happen in other countries rather than on shoots. On shoots, people are usually quite professional, but it’s more having to go to dinner with the clients then, as well, that it
Why did you leave Trump Models?
I actually never left. I was there for maybe four or five months and I ended up moving to South Africa to work with an agency there and I never went back to New York to model. But it never came to a question, ‘Do you want to stay with them or not?’
Is George Hook the closest in Irish media to Trump?
Well, didn’t George Hook come out and agree that he was pro-Donald Trump? Well, that’s mad (laughs). I heard that on the radio and I was like, ‘Oh Jeanie!’ I’ve never met George Hook, so I’ve no idea what he’s actually like. I just gave out there about people reading stuff about me and assuming what kind of person I am – so, I can’t necessarily say, ‘Yeah, he is’. I’ve never met him.
Are you politically motivated?
I would be if it’s something I’m really passionate about. You know what’s mad? I used to study politics. You’re like, ‘No way! She fucking didn’t!’ (laughs). Growing up, I was really into debating and I wanted to be an advocate for human rights and work in the UN or something. So, I went to college and studied politics, but I ended up winning Miss Universe Ireland, so I didn’t have to finish my course.
Do you have any heroes?
I always tend to look at people who I know personally because I actually know them as people. And as for who I look up to morally, it’s not somebody’s who’s raised a fantastic amount of money throughout their lifetime – it’s people who every day would give you the coat off their back and are just really nice to everybody they meet.
Would you consider going into politics?
Oh God! Looking at the Hillary and Trump campaign – I’d say there’s an awful lot of shit they could pull up on me too (laughs), so I’ll leave it alone.
I’d have thought you were squeaky clean!
I know. But, you know, like silly stuff – like that tweet. To be honest with you, spending the majority of my life in the public eye is really hard. I couldn’t imagine getting the amount of attention politicians get. I’d still love to be an advocate for some human rights movement or something.
"Yeah, I’m pro-choice. I haven’t spoken too much
about it in interviews because I am afraid that my words will be taken out
What’s the biggest mistake you made in your personal life?
I probably made loads of mistakes, but I never look back and regret something because you know what? Some of the biggest mistakes in my life, turned out to be the best mistakes of my life! The only one I genuinely regret is giving up basketball. I was really good – I wish I still played.
Are you so career-driven that it gets in the way of relationships?
I had to learn how to have a balance. I’ve always been into my job and I look at my sisters and they’re the same. I think it’s something about us as children. I’ve had to learn to have a balance because – although I love work and reaching goals – there has to be some sort of element where you have a personal life as well. So I’m pretty good at it now.
I know that you won’t want to talk about your relationship with Bressie, but it must be hard living your personal life in the spotlight?
Yeah. It comes with this job. I don’t really let it consume me. It is sometimes hard, because your words get twisted and things get taken out of context, and there’s people who don’t know you reading that and then they have this idea of who you are. People just assume you’re a type of person – but they don’t know you.
You've got abuse on social media. How do you handle it?
When it comes to the abuse on social media, it never gets easy. Even if you’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t care’, you do find yourself looking at it and questioning it. But more often than not, when you go into the person’s profile, it’s like, blank photo. And they’ve been trolling everyone all day. But still: it doesn’t really get easy, being honest.
Have you been upset at any of the media commentary about you?
A couple of weeks ago, I got to the stage where I just didn’t want to do this anymore. It’s really annoying. Every time I say something it’s taken completely out of context, or it’s twisted. You’d ask me a question: ‘Do you think that person is…?’ Like you said earlier, ‘A misogynist pig?’ And I went, ‘After all the headlines you’d probably agree’. And then the headline is ‘Roz Purcell slams Donald Trump for being a pig!’ But you’re like, ‘I didn’t actually say that. I said something else?’ Things are being twisted.
So, you feel like walking away from the spotlight?
In the past few months, I definitely wanted to just disappear and leave the industry. But my family – because I talk to them if I feel down about
things – always say, ‘You really enjoy what you do. You’ve found your passion for food now. And, unfortunately, it is a part of your job that you that you have to just man up and take’. But, yeah, when things are taken out of context you feel people are getting such a strange perception of you.
Have you cried over stuff written about you? I’m the kind of person who gets a little angry. I’m one of these people who don’t see the point in crying. It doesn’t get you anywhere. Anger maybe doesn’t get you anywhere either – but I will get overwhelmed with rage.
Does it bother you when people stop you on the street and ask for autographs or selfies?
Usually, they’re so nice. They’re like, ‘I really love your book.’ That makes my day because it’s nice to know that people actually like you. It’s worse if somebody stops you and they say something negative.
Have you been insulted?
Oh, you know the way in Ireland there’s backhanded compliments. Somebody would say, ‘You look much better in real life than you do on the telly’ (laughs)! You know, when someone’s giving you a backhanded compliment, it’s funny. You’re like, ‘Thank you’.
On a more serious note, I know your sister Rachel was diagnosed with cancer back in January. She was diagnosed just randomly. If you ever met Rachel, she looks great - and even now she looks the beacon of health. It was such a shock for all of us. She has leukaemia. You could look fine and be young and you might have a really bad underlying problem – so it’s really important to check yourself. Rachel and I are best friends. We live together.
But I’d be the hypochondriac and she wouldn’t at all. She would never go for regular check-ups and things like that.
I can only imagine it came as a huge shock…
The last thing she was expecting to find was that she had cancer. Thankfully, hers is quite a manageable type.
How is she handling it?
She’s doing really good. She’s on treatment and obviously it’s taking a long time to get used to, but, as she says, it’s the new normal that she goes into St James every week. And that she has to deal with small side effects and things like that.
So, the prognosis is good?
Yes. She’s been quite lucky in that the type of cancer she got there’s a huge amount of research on. It’s a very common type of cancer in Chernobyl. So, there were different treatment courses that she could take. But it’s definitely made her reassess everything. It made our whole family reassess everything.
Is it curable?
Her type of cancer is incurable.
I’m sorry to hear that.
They just try to manage it. When you first hear, ‘Cancer’, you think straight away, ‘Chemo. Losing hair. What stage is it at?’ But there’s so many different types of cancer. It’s a case of managing it and trying to keep it in stage one as long as possible.
Is there a life expectancy for this type of cancer? They said that she had all these milestones to reach and they said that if she reaches all her milestones, she’ll have a normal life expectancy. So,
she’s trying to reach all those milestones.
Would you be in favour of legalising marijuana for medicinal purposes?
Yep. There’s the medicinal side of it, where people get lots of benefits out of it – 100 percent it should be legalised for medicinal purposes, particularly for people who have arthritis and things like that. And for seizures it’s really good.
Have you ever tried marijuana?
(Laughs) Yes. I had cupcakes when I was in Christiania in Copenhagen. I love my cupcakes (laughs). Christiania is such a cool place where there’s no rules, no laws and people live completely happy and safe in their own community. It’s such an amazing place.
So you got high on hash cakes?
I think I laughed for about 10 hours straight at stupid shit. It was very funny. They were selling these amazing-looking cupcakes in the café where they were having gorgeous food. We all got them and I’m pretty sure I ate every one of them (laughs) and I didn’t realise because they just tasted like ordinary cupcakes. And then afterwards, my sister was like, ‘Jesus! There was a lot in the frosting’. And I was like, ‘I must’ve had the frosting off at least four of them!’
Did you get the munchies?
(Laughs) I had to go for food like two hours later. But I couldn’t stop laughing. That was it – I just couldn’t stop laughing.
Did you ever try it again?
No, that was it. To be honest with you, I’m such a dry shite! I don’t go out that much anyway. So, I’m never really around people who do it. I don't see the point of drugs.
Were you always interested in food?
My family were really big foodies, particularly my grandmother. I grew up with her and my granddad, and I spent so much time with her in the kitchen. She always included me when she was baking – so that passion started from a really young age. She taught me to make so many of her traditional dishes. So, when they were really old, we took over and we cooked and baked for them.
A lot of young people barely know how to use a microwave!
It still frightens me when I meet someone at my age, who can’t cook! I’m like, ‘What?’ It’s mad. One of the most valuable things I learnt was how to cook from scratch; from four or five, I was making dinners and stuff! It made me really independent for college and travelling and so on.
Was there a time when you might have got obsessed with what you eat in the wrong way? Growing up, I was fantastic eater. Our family was like, ‘Think of the children in Africa’. I always had the mentality that I had to clean my plate. But when I started modelling I pretty much took on every fad diet there was, because I was under so much pressure to lose weight. I did develop a negative relationship with food. I was always on these crash diets.
Did you ever take diet pills?
I never took diet pills. I always went on diet plans, whether it was Atkins or Dukin or shake diets. I’ve pretty much done them all.
Was there any tendency towards something like bulimia? I would’ve known girls who were bulimic growing up – so that was never an option for me. I was never going to be someone who stopped eating. I love food. But I looked at food as the enemy for a while because it was the reason why I wasn’t getting jobs – because I wasn’t meeting my measurements. So, I did go through a negative patch with food, but I circled around – and I’m back to where I was as a child (laughs).
Was seeing food as “the enemy” the real reason behind your decision to drop out of modelling? To be honest, I was suffering so much with my weight that I wanted to go back home and sort that out. Emotionally, I was up and down. A lot of girls struggle with their weight and obviously food’s my passion, and I was looking at food as my enemy – emotionally that was quite tough. And constantly being judged on your appearance is really tough: it’s not something you can change in an instant.
Did you have to go to therapy?
No, I got home and sorted my shit out. Luckily, my parents say it how it is. They said Roz, ‘You’re coming home. You’re getting your shit together. We’re sick of seeing you go up and down so much. You’ve a great appetite. You love sports. You shouldn’t be so down on yourself. And if this job isn’t for you, it’s not for you – let’s move on. And if it is, get your shit together.’ My parents are really like, ‘Get yourself together'. And I did.
Do you have any phobias about food?
No, I eat absolutely everything. I’ve even eaten insects and stuff! I wouldn’t be too precious with my palate.
What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten in? The Palomar in London. It’s a Middle Eastern restaurant and it’s just unbelievable, everything from the atmosphere to the staff and obviously the food. It was the best experience.
And in Dublin?
It would have to be Taste at Rustic Stone. The Japanese bar is awesome.
I presume you wouldn’t believe in God…
Oh, this is going to be a really hard one now, because of my family, with such a religious background. My aunt is going to be devastated (laughs) – but no.
So there’s no heaven and hell?
You know what? I’d love to believe that there is something after we die, because that’s something that always scared me so much as a child. I used to cry so much. I’d be like to my mum, ‘What if there’s no heaven?’ And my mum would reassure me. But growing up, I just knew there wasn’t. So, no, it’s something I really try not to think about. But at the same time, knowing that this is your only chance at life makes you want to go out and have the best time, the whole time. Just be happy.
Do you believe in reincarnation?
I'd like to think that I was an Egyptian in a previous life (laughs). But I would be very much of the science-based attitude… (pauses) So I don’t really believe in that, no.
What would you like to come back as?
A bald eagle. Because firstly, they don’t have to do their hair (laughs). You don’t have to worry about it. Secondly, I get to travel over the world. And thirdly, I’d have no pressures – there’s no one coming after me.
Roz: Just flagging it…
Now, that’s a horse of a different colour