The Wellwear Interview - Emily Atack
Emily Atack is an actress, comedian and television star. We spoke with her to learn how she approaches all things well-being. Best known for her role as Charlotte Hinchcliffe in The Inbetweeners, Emily Atack has appeared in movies, television shows and stage productions. She hosts The Emily Atack Show, which was ITV's most popular female-led standup show in 2020, and frequently appears on panel shows like Celebrity Juice. In 2018, she was runner-up on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! The following year, she released her first book, Are We There Yet?: To Indignity... and Beyond! Recently, Emily has been filming a documentary for the BBC exploring abuse on social media, opening up about her own experiences.
What does well-being mean to you?
Throughout my life, I’ve been told off for not looking after myself properly. But in my 30s, I’ve started to understand how important well-being is. It’s one of those things some people have to practise. Once you start understanding how to look after your body and mind, well-being becomes important.
The thought of doing standup comedy terrifies many people. How do you tackle nerves before going on stage?
I don’t.! Every time I’m about to go on stage, I ask myself, ‘Why are you doing this to yourself? This is the most “Please like me” thing you’ve ever done.’ I still have nightmares about going on stage and forgetting what I’m meant to say. But sometimes you’ve got to take yourself out of your comfort zone, because it’s thrilling once it’s done. It’s like going to the gym – you’re glad once it’s over.
Do your nerves go once you’re on stage and immersed in the experience?
Totally. It’s the greatest feeling when you walk out there, tell your first joke and everyone laughs (hopefully). My audiences have always been lovely. But I’ve been clever about it. I’ve written material for women who love prosecco, going out and having a nice time. I’m always so nervous. But the second I open my mouth, it all falls into place.
How do you generally relax?
When you’re in your 20s, you think relaxing is getting smashed with your mates and partying. I feel very old saying this, but you’ve got to slow everything down, maybe not see your friends for a couple of days, and take some time away from the world. I’m discovering the joy of real relaxing, where it’s lighting candles, watching films and trying not to look at my phone for at least, you know… half an hour.
You’ve taken part in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. How do you feel about revealing yourself, rather than playing a part as an actor?
People think they know you from the roles you play. It’s a completely different whirlwind doing something where people get to know who you are as a person. It’s a gamble because they might think you’re a dickhead. But enough mates in my life tell me I’m a nice person. I’m considerate of others, so I’m good in spaces where we’re living among each other. As daunting as it is, it’s definitely rewarding when you realise people like you for you.
What would be your dream role?
Who’s to say my dream role isn’t coming up this year? Let’s see what the year brings.
What clothes do you feel best in?
In the sexist world we live in, people think girls know all about fashion and what they feel good in. But I sometimes struggle with clothes as I’m constantly comparing myself to Instagram models. Like everyone else, I look on Instagram and go, ‘Ugh! My body doesn’t look like that, and I won’t look like that in those clothes.’ But I’m learning it doesn’t matter if you don’t look like everyone else. I like to be comfy.
If you could choose one item from the current David Gandy Wellwear collection as a present to yourself, what would it be?
I could go to town and say, ‘I like this, this and this!’ Because I love everything. The other day I posted a picture of myself in the Ultimate Fleeceback Hoody Set, a dark blue hoody and trackies. It’s honestly the nicest tracksuit I’ve ever worn. And for me, tracksuits have always been difficult to get right. Because, again, I put that pressure on myself of going, ‘I don’t look like an Instagram model, so those baggy, tomboy clothes won’t look good on me. I’ll look like I’m trying to be too cool and young.’ But this tracksuit sits on me really nicely. It’s so comfy and you can dress it up or down. I wear the hoody either to the gym or with jeans. I’ve even worn it with heels before. It’s stylish, casual, cool and I love it.
What sort of music do you listen to in order to raise your mood?
I never know how to answer music questions because it depends on what mood I’m in. I grew up around rock and love it. My dad has played with everyone from Eric Clapton to Bonnie Tyler. When I was younger, I went through a rocker stage and wore Slipknot wristbands for a bit. I’ve covered it all.
Do you have an exercise routine that you rely on to keep you physically and mentally primed?
Sometimes, a job means I can’t get to a gym for a while, and I get a bit out of shape, and it throws me off. But at the moment I’m in a really good routine. I’m planning on training most days – I did a hot yoga class yesterday (on a Sunday, when normally I’m at the pub). I’m making a conscious effort to think about my health this year. I’m truly doing it for my mental health. An exercise routine is paramount. For me, it’s about keeping that messy head of mine a little clearer.
You have made a documentary about your experiences of online harassment. What is your view of social media’s impact on well-being?
Social media is such a double-edged sword. I don’t want to be one of these people stomping their feet around going, ‘Social media should be banned! It’s ruining people’s lives! What are we going to do about our children?’ It’s out of control in terms of how it’s patrolled and policed, but it also brings a lot of good. I have my business on social media. Most people do nowadays. But anyone can say anything to anybody at the moment. No one is held accountable for terrible things that go on. It has to be patrolled better and made a safer space, so we can continue to reap the positive sides of it.
Have you got a way you prepare for auditions?
Learn your bloody lines. Even if they say, ‘We understand we only sent you the script last night, so you don’t need to be off-book,’ always be off-book. You want to go in there feeling prepared. You remember that feeling when you went into school on Monday morning and hadn’t done your homework? The teacher was going around collecting the books and your stomach sank. Just do your homework!
When was the last time you properly laughed, and at what?
In the hot yoga session yesterday, I did one of the moves really wrong. Everyone went one way and I went the other. I said, ‘Ooh no. We’re going that way’. My sister and I were at the front and heard everyone stifle a laugh. Then we got fits of giggles.
What is the scariest thing you have ever done?
My documentary, definitely. Most jobs you do in the industry are scary – you’re really putting yourself out there, and it could all be taken away at any moment. The cancel culture is rife. I throw myself into every job and it’s like doing a skydive: the risk and the catapulting yourself into a whirlwind of fear and people’s opinions.
Who is your hero?
Kathy Burke is a hero, isn’t she? I love Kathy Burke. My mum would be pissed off if I didn’t say her. I think everyone in my family is a hero. They’re all insanely brilliant and I’m so lucky they’re in my everyday life. And yeah, Kathy Burke. She’s not in my life, but hopefully one day she might be.
Do you have any tips on getting a good night’s sleep?
I’ve discovered a way of sleeping and it’s by cutting the booze out a bit. I call it my sober sleeps. They’re really important to recharge. Stay off the ale, get in bed with a book and your dog, put your phone down, and get the eye mask on.