Lily Allen gets real
It’s been more than 12 years since Lily Allen released her debut album Alright, Still, with its four hit singles. At the time, Twitter was four months old, Instagram didn’t exist and Donald Trump was just the host of a second-rate reality TV series. The w
LILY ALLEN HAS BEEN TO HELL AND BACK
more than a few times. Throughout an intense divorce, bipolar disorder and postnatal depression, she’s remained open and honest with her fans. ‘It’s not intentional, it’s just that my personality comes out in my music, my books, my friendships and my conversations with people. I’m just an open person, I like to talk,’ she explains. Her unguarded personality probably explains why she’s landed in Australia amid a flood of headlines about one of her recent admissions.
‘I slept with female escorts when I was on tour, because I was lost and lonely and looking for something. I’m not proud, but I’m not ashamed. I don’t do it anymore,’ she revealed on Instagram. ‘The [Daily] Mail are gonna run with the story tomorrow cause someone leaked it [from the book], and they’re bound to make it sound worse than it was. Just wanted to give you, er, the ‘heads up’.’ Nonchalant, forward and unapologetic, it’s the Lily Allen we know and love.
The singer refers to her new album No Shame as a ‘confessional’, and it seems the outlet was a necessary one. The beats are irrefutably pop but the lyrics venture into Lily’s maternal guilt, substance abuse and, of course, a host of political issues. ‘I wanted to write something that’s relevant to my life story and relevant to the listeners,’ she says. ‘With the first few records they were really commenting on world issues and what’s been going on around me, my socialising and friendships. This album is more inwards looking, and that wasn’t really intentional. I think it’s because now I’m a mother of two small children, I’m not going out and partying in the same way that I used to. I have a little bit more experience under my belt.’
Lily’s personal and political candour hasn’t always been met with open arms, but she has no plans to back down. ‘I think the resistance happens because society doesn’t really want women, especially young women, to have too much of an opinion. The world is run by middleaged straight white men. So there’s always going to be a push back
if women continue to have power within the workplace and within the conversation.’
Just over a year since The New York Times' explosive report on Harvey Weinstein uncovered over 30 years of sexual abuse, harassment and rape allegations, Lily tells Cosmopolitan that it’s never been more important to keep the conversation going. ‘I know it’s scary and there’s a backlash that comes [with it]. But really I think the only way we can make progress is by keeping the conversation going. It’s easy to bow out, that’s what the people in control want, for us to leave. The only way we can change that is by leading the conversation ourselves.’
While in Australia, Lily told the harrowing story of her producer mother being in a screening room with Weinstein, where he proceeded to ‘pleasure himself’ as he watched a nude scene with actress Meg Ryan. While his lawyer denies the allegation, Lily’s comments were a reminder of the work that remains to be done to ensure that no industry will ever again be subjected to a Weinsteinstyle situation.
In the midst of the #MeToo movement, Lily says all support is good support. ‘If it weren’t for the internet and if social media didn’t exist, that story would have been easily buried by the people who have enough money to squash that kind of a story. But the internet makes it easier to get all that information out there and shared.’
A woman of many words, Lily recently released her first ever book, My Thoughts Exactly, a tellall memoir consisting of a collection of essays that give readers a glimpse into her personal thoughts, opinions and milestones. ‘It definitely pulls the curtain back on the entertainment industry; people think the entertainment world is one way and this book really goes another way. I think people will be really interested.’
Lily says sitting down to put her memories on paper was difficult. ‘Over the past few years I’ve done a lot of therapy and I’ve learnt a lot about myself. I think I’m in a place now where I’m more selfaware than I have been in the past, and obviously with age comes knowledge and wisdom, which is helpful.’
Promising to share a piece of her fiery self with the whole country, Lily will return Down Under in early February to perform her new album, as well as all her greatest hits. She reckons the tour will be ‘super intimate but fun, with highs and lows – and includes almost a decade and a half worth of music. It’s a good one.’ See you guys there.
‘THE WORLD IS RUN BY MIDDLE-AGED STRAIGHT WHITE MEN’