English singer and songwriter Nicola Roberts came to the limelight after participating in the ITV reality talent show, Popstars: The Rivals. The show helped create the girl pop group Girls Aloud. Singer Nicola Roberts saw immense success, as part of the Girls Aloud group and they released 5 albums and had 20 singles that consecutively grabbed a spot in the UK Top Ten Singles chart.
After seven years together, the Girls Aloud group parted ways to focus on their individual career (although they briefly reunited later but split again eventually). During this time, Nicola Roberts premiered her own makeup line and released her critically appreciated solo album Cinderella’s Eyes. In addition to this, the British singer appeared in a BBC documentary Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning.
The British singer also advocated (pairing up with British MP Julia Morgan) the ban of sun tanning beds for under 18s. In addition to her own album, the British singer-songwriter also wrote lyrics for Little Mix’s album as well as Cheryl Ann Tweedy’s album and singles.
Last year, she made headlines when she emerged as the winner of ITV’s reality show, The Masked Singer UK. The British singer was also cast in an important role in West End’s musical comedy, City of Angels. Now that we’ve caught up with how Nicola Roberts gained her fame and what she’s been up to, let’s dig into her career and personal life to find some interesting facts along the way!
Nicola Roberts: 11 Lesser Known Facts About The Girls Aloud Singer!
Nicola Roberts was a lead singer and founded– The 5 Musketeers – her own girls’ band and performed at a local disco in the beginning.
Childhood and early interests
Nicola Roberts came into this world on 5 October 1985, in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and was raised in Runcorn, Cheshire. The oldest of 5 kids, her siblings include a younger sister, Frankie, and two younger brothers, Harrison and Clayton.
At the time of Nicola Roberts’s birth, her mother was a tender seventeen years old. Her father worked at the Royal Air Force, however, to improve the financial condition of the family, he took up a job at Ford Motor Company. Her mother, for the same reason, began working as a photographer.
The British singer went to St Chad’s High School and was a good student; however, she was not inclined towards studies. Instead, the singer’s interest from the beginning was towards music and thus, enrolled at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Additionally, the singer began auditioning and entered herself in various competitions.
She was stalked by her ex-boyfriend
According to her interview with the Guardian, Nicola Roberts has always been “emotionally independent”, which is something she credits to being the eldest sibling of four. “I just handle everything myself,” she says.
The singer was forced to accept the limits of that approach when she was stalked by a former partner. From 2012 to 2017, Carl Davies – an ex-soldier Roberts dated seriously before an acrimonious split in 2008 – sent Roberts thousands of messages over Twitter and Instagram, including some that were described in court as “violent and threatening”.
The ex-boyfriend Carl Davies also sent proclamations of love and had flowers delivered to Roberts’ manager’s office. Roberts never replied, but she documented 3,000 messages over five years, only going to the police in 2017 when Davies started contacting her friend, the R&B singer Joel Compass. For a long time, Roberts says, her approach to the harassment had been to “process it and process it and process it myself … until it just became explosive”. She wrote in her victim impact statement that the messages had been a reminder of “all the terrible things” in her relationship with Davies: “It was like walking on eggshells.”
Card Davies confessed one count of stalking and another of persistent use of public communication networks to cause annoyance or inconvenience, for which he was handed a 15-month suspended prison sentence (meaning he served no time) in May 2017.
He was also given a lifetime restraining order, prohibiting him from contacting or approaching Roberts or any member of her family. His defense said Davies had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Afghanistan and noted that Roberts had not told him to stop sending the messages. Just a few months after his sentencing, Davies was accused of breaching the restraining order by following Roberts on Instagram – but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges on the advice that there was little chance of a conviction. In 2018, the CPS apologized for that decision, which Roberts’ lawyer said reflected a “lack of understanding” about social media.
According to the Guardian interview, Roberts said of the apology now: “It was too late. That’s the first time in my whole life, I am extremely fortunate to say, that I ever felt [I’d been done] an injustice because I was a woman … I felt genuinely begrudged, like something extremely unfair was placed upon me, because I was a woman. And it was a horrible feeling. “I think sometimes certain behaviour of men is seen as normal or usual – but it’s never normal or usual to the victim, ever. It’s horrific.”
In 2020, she starred in the West End for the first time
Nicola Roberts won one of the leading roles in the West End production of the musical City of Angels.
“I had a few heartbreaks along the way. I was kind of ground down.” Roberts says that just two years ago she would not merely have lacked the confidence to audition for her new role – “I actually would have been terrified for it to be in the public domain that I was going to be in the same space every night, because I was fearful for my safety”. In Josie Rourke’s award-winning production of City of Angels, Roberts plays Avril, an actor, and Mallory, the character Avril is playing. Her acting coach has had to remind her to exaggerate: to make her gestures big enough, declarative enough, to reach the back of the house.
In 2020, she went for a new start after years of harassment by her ex-partner
In 2019, the British singer signed off on the repossession of her home in Surrey and moved to London, close to friends, into a “gorgeous, French-style apartment, with flowers and plants everywhere and so much light,” according to the Guardian. Following this period, the British singer had 12 months of trauma therapy, which she describes as “the best gift I ever gave myself”.
“Prior to this year, I’d say I had five of the unhappiest years of my life. Just really tough emotionally,” she said to the Guardian. There was a long period in which an ex-boyfriend harassed and stalked her, which led to his prosecution in 2017, all of which “took a massive toll on my life”, she stated to the Guardian.
“It goes against everything in me. I like everything to be natural … believable.” This instinct for subtlety is not synonymous with most pop stars – particularly pop stars who started out on TV talent shows.
In Girls Aloud, she was known as the sulky one
Nicola Roberts stepped onto the limelight in 2002, aged 16, by auditioning for the singing competition Popstars: The Rivals while on a family holiday after her GCSEs. Nicola Roberts was the youngest member of the band Girls Aloud, who won the ITV show.
The all-girls band went on to have 21 Top 10 singles, including four No 1s; two of their five albums topped the charts. Nicola Roberts came to be one of the group’s most recognizable faces, known as the alternative one, and was set apart from the other four not only by her red hair and pale skin but by her taste. Nicola Roberts was often characterized by interviewers as “sulky” or “reserved”.
The British singer also suffered from health difficulties – hypoglycemia and anemia – exacerbated by the grueling performance schedule. And there was grotesque bullying over her appearance.
When Matt Willis from the musical group Busted called her a “rude ginger bitch” in 2003, Nicola Roberts made a stand, painting his words on a skirt, then performing in it.
In 2007, British singer Lily Allen also called Nicola Roberts “the ugly one” from Girls Aloud, while Chris Moyles, who was then a BBC Radio 1 DJ, insulted Nicola Roberts for years, nicknaming her the “ropey-looking ginger one”, “horsey chops” and a “sour-faced old cow”. (Moyles went on to a non-apology in 2012.)
Her public bullying led to creating a makeup brand and advocating against tanning beds
Nicola Roberts downplays the impact of her bullying on her self-esteem, but she also perked up at the thought of how beauty standards have changed. In 2008, Nicola Roberts premiered a makeup line, Dainty Doll, to cater to those with a pale complexion.
“I struggled all the time to find makeup that was light enough,” she said to the Guardian. The palest available shade would be “five shades too dark – but, again, that was because of beauty trends at the time. People weren’t pale. Everyone was on the sunbed and using fake tan … It’s just crazy now, isn’t it, to think that?” she stated to the Guardian.
Early in her career, Roberts had tried sunbeds – a practice she vehemently advocates against. After presenting a BBC Three documentary about the health risks of tanning in sunbeds in 2010, Nicola Roberts partnered up with the then Labour MP Julie Morgan’s campaign to actively ban under-18s from using them; the law was introduced the following year.
She’s still best friends with the girls from Girls Aloud
For Nicola Roberts, the legacy of Girls Aloud is her friendships with her fellow singers Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl (with whom she continues to collaborate; Nicola even co-wrote Cheryl’s recent singles). “Kimberley and Cheryl are really like my roots – there’s such a deep thread there. We’ve gone through everything together, Everything” – Nicola said to the Guardian.
Her debut solo album, Cinderella’s Eyes, in 2011, informed the public of her struggles to fit in
Girls Aloud went on hiatus in 2009 to allow each member to pursue solo projects and for Nicola Roberts, this was a big life-changing event.
With her pale skin, striking red hair, and introverted personality, Nicola Roberts may have been the less tabloid-friendly member of Girls Aloud (especially with Cheryl Cole being her bandmate), but thanks to her songwriting skills and her effortless, eclectic taste, her solo career was far more interesting than bandmates Nadine Coyle and Cheryl Cole’s.
She changed management, ended a six-year relationship, and informed her struggles to fit in through her solo album, Cinderella’s Eyes. The 2011 album was globally acclaimed by critics for its musical idiosyncrasies and lyrical insight – such as when in the ballad Sticks + Stones, Roberts sang of “being told I’m ugly, over and over” and pleading with her driver to buy her vodka to help her cope.
In terms of closure, Nicola Roberts says: “It’s behind me in my everyday life, and that has been a blessing. It’s behind me in that I don’t have, like, a paranoia that I had before. I don’t feel scared.”
When the harassment messages started, public anticipation was high for a follow-up to Cinderella’s Eyes, but years of fearing for her safety took a “massive toll” on Roberts’ confidence. “To have these bloody messages, life-threatening messages, every day – it just ground me down. I’m happiest when I’m being creative, with a project to work on – but I just couldn’t. I’d sit with the pen and go to write and I’d be like: ‘This. Is. Shiiit.’ Like: ‘I can’t get out of me what I want to get out.’”
Two changes enabled her to move on. The first was “getting out of that house” in Surrey, where she had felt so afraid. In October, she signed off on the repossession of the £1.25m home; she had been trying to sell it since 2017, slashing the price to £825,000. Roberts says now that she was “scared to be there”. “It was a prison – a horrible, horrible prison … I’d just had enough.” Moving to London, closer to her friends, has made a “massive contribution” to her happiness.
Therapy changed her life
After her parents divorced and conflicts with her stalking soldier ex-boyfriend with PTSD, she found herself in a depressed state. Her hectic schedule and public hatred for being a pale ginger led her to dissolve relations with family members and, after stating her frustration at her living situation, she started frequently returning to her hometown of Runcorn, Cheshire where she grew up.
Her work life and home life saw her split into two different personalities (especially after the success of Cinderella’s Eyes and the downfall of her confidence from her ex-boyfriend’s threatening messages) and the conflicts with her personal life made her question her career.
Roberts does not feel angry about the past five years. “I feel sad that it happened to me,” she says. “But I feel like it led me to do therapy and the therapy has been the best thing I could ever have done for myself. It’s honestly just changed me so much, and I’m so thankful for that. “Equally, you know, I don’t want this to read that I’m thankful for that period of time, because I’m definitely not.” But without therapy, she says, “I wouldn’t have got to this place, who I am now. I’m calm. I’m confident again. I’m excited. “I’ve had a lot of relationships in my life that weren’t quite on the same frequency as me. Romantic, career-wise, friendships – I needed to just leave some behind to then make room for people who really got on my wavelength.” She has learned something important about herself. “The therapist did say to me I was one of the most resilient people she’d ever met. I was like: OK…I mean, it might be something she says to everyone.”
She’s into fashion and was even a judge
As a regular on major tv networks, Nicola was asked to be the guest judge on Britain’s Next Top Model starring on the panel with supermodel Elle Macpherson. In 2012, singer Rihanna chose Nicola to co-host Styled To Rock for Sky Living alongside British fashion designer and close friend Henry Holland. The show searched for the next generation of up-coming designer talent which is a keen passion of the British singer-songwriter!