COVER STORY

Hot Press - - Contents - In­ter­view: JA­SON O’TOOLE Pho­tog­ra­phy: KATHRIN BAUMBACH Pho­tos taken at Hot Press Photo Stu­dio and 37 Daw­son Street

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!

Wow!

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.

Like what?

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

bas­ket­ball."

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

can hap­pen.

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

of con­text."

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

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