The actress, 39, came to fame in EastEnders, before trying movies and music. She now has a new clothing range.
What inspired your new fashion range?
Well, after I did a Christmassy collection for the website Fashion World, they asked me if I could do a summer range. It’s a lot harder to be flattering with summer clothing than with winter. I started off by thinking: what would I like to wear on holiday? I love blue and white in the summer , it’s just so fresh and lovely with a tan.
When you’re not wearing your own designs, are you a high street girl?
I love high street, designer, vintage… I just love clothes! I think it’s the actress in me.
You’re turning 40… is that a big deal?
Yeah, 40 is huge! My thirties were a rollercoaster, a bit of the wilderness years. A few key things went right but a lot of things went wrong, and I found my thirties quite hard. Now I’m turning 40, I’ve met my husband and had my little boy, and I feel a lot more anchored.
What’s the biggest lesson you learnt in your thirties?
To be a lot more self-accepting and less hard on myself. Confidence and wisdom come together.
Has becoming a mum changed how you see your body and fashion?
Yeah, definitely – now I want to be more practical and effortlessly chic. Before, I would try a lot harder.
Because now you have to deal with baby food and baby sick…
Exactly! I have key designer pieces but I love the high street because it is more affordable – for when that carrot isn’t coming out of that beautiful blouse…
What else have you got up your sleeve?
I’m doing a film with Alan Davies called The Bromley Boys, starting in July. It’s about achieving your dreams. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s lovely. And I’m back in the studio. That was my first love and the acting was a brilliant accident. I’ve got a new single coming out at the end of the year.
What kind of music will it be?
It’s going to be sort of pop-rock/country music. Very Radio 2, very much for my audience. And hopefully they’ll love it.
After Love, Actually, there was a point when you were trying to break Hollywood… did it disappoint you that you didn’t become Britain’s answer to Jennifer Lopez?
No! I went to the US with Love, Actually, and there was this hype around me. I got a big TV show with NBC but then the head of the network left and the new guy wasn’t sure if he wanted to inherit the old president’s work. I’d sold my place in London, moved to LA, I had no friends… I just wanted to come home and be around my family. I missed them desperately.
And then what happened?
I got really unwell with ME. I took time out of the business and it affected me for years. When I had my son, it gave me a new lease of life and everything fell into place. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
What do you think the biggest misconception about you is?
Probably that I really p***ed everybody off in America. I think they were ready for my downfall – I’d been riding high for too long. And instead they just fabricated something.
Do you mean the British press or the American?
Oh, the British. They love you in second place and I’m very American in my attitude. I genuinely love what I do… that’s enthusiasm. When I was young, I didn’t realise you had to be humble, even when you’re bursting to tell people how excited you are.
So what do you think of Metro?
Oh, I am a fan, I am! I take the Tube and read Metro. And you’ve been kind to me over the years.
Do you ever watch EastEnders?
No, I don’t know anyone in it. But it was lovely they called one of the characters Tiffany and the legacy lived on. We had the most fantastic camaraderie, which I really do miss. I was 18 when I started and we grew up in the public eye. All our mistakes and drunken nights out were there and I wouldn’t change any of it.
Do you wish they hadn’t killed you off?