Fleur East’s struggle before stardom revealed – I’m A Celeb star was racially abused as a child and so poor she couldn’t afford the busDecember 8, 2018
SHE’S impressed on I’m a Celebrity with her brave attitude to Bushtucker Trials and hilarious antics, and this weekend Fleur East could be crowned Queen of the Jungle.
Her increased popularity is a far cry from last year, when she was dropped from Simon Cowell’s record label Syco.
Simon even dissed her last week when he told Scarlett Lee: “I don’t want you in the jungle in two years time drinking worm juice, I want you on either Broadway or the West End or selling records.”
The audience booed the music mogul, and he was criticised on social media – proving just how popular Fleur is.
A source close to the star told Sun Online: “Fleur is one of the most hardworking celebs in the industry, and is using this opportunity to raise her profile in a way that works for her – but her infectious personality is 100 per cent genuine.
“Growing up poor means she appreciates what she has more than most – and it’s clear to see she’s keen to make it big.”
Here, Sun Online takes a closer look at Fleur – from her beginnings in her childhood girlband and pouring champagne for Rihanna to potential Queen of the Jungle.
Told she ‘needed singing lessons’ and that Simon Cowell wanted to sleep with her
Most of us will remember Fleur from X Factor 2014, which saw her come runner-up to Ben Haenow and gain an iTunes number one with her performance of Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.
However, this wasn’t Fleur’s first time on the X Factor: along with childhood friends Nicola Owusu-Akontoh, Stephanie Yamson, and Vivienne Umeh she was in a band called Addictiv Ladies, who made it on to the live shows in 2005.
They almost didn’t even make it to bootcamp after a cringey performance of a self-penned song called Missing U.
Simon only put them through on the proviso that they got singing lessons.
Following a woeful performance of Jamelia’s Superstar on the first live show, they were voted out by Louis Walsh in favour of Chico.
After confronting Louis, the girls claimed he told them they’d only made it that far in the competition because “Simon Cowell wanted to sleep with them”.
The band split, with Fleur going on to study History and Journalism at uni.
A ‘depressed’ waitress serving Rihanna
After uni, Fleur toured with producer DJ Fresh, and released covers of songs by Lorde and Frank Ocean.
But she struggled to make ends meet, and said she was “definitely depressed” and ready to give up on music.
“I’ve worked in a call centre and as a nightclub waitress. I served champagne to Rihanna. Those moments could be sad, but I thought, ‘one day Fleur, one day, that’s going to be you’,” she said.
In 2014, Fleur’s family encouraged her to give X Factor another go. She is extremely close to her lookalike younger sister Keshia, a make up artist and Instagram influencer, as well as parents Malcolm and Irene.
But growing up in Walthamstow, East London, was tough. Her parents split while she was eight, and she says sometimes her family were so broke they couldn’t afford a bus ticket.
Her mum is Ghanian, and Fleur was targeted by racist bullies at school.
She said: “I was really young when this girl said: ‘urgh, what colour are you? Your skin is really dirty’.
“I would get asked ‘are you black or are you white?’ I was often in a position where I felt like I had to pick a side and that was difficult.”
Fleur has credited her parents with preventing her ending up like people she knew who “went to prison for burglary and drugs” by getting her into music.
“My parents played records every day when I was growing up… my dad gave me all their old vinyl. I’m mostly listening to Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall – it was always playing when I was a child.”
A ‘bad boy’ boyfriend who gets jealous of her teddies
Fleur keeps her love life private. She’s been with boyfriend Marcel Badiane-Robin for five years, but is rarely pictured with him.
They lived near London’s upmarket Canary Wharf, before Fleur bought a four-bedroom property in her native Walthamstow last year, where the average home of this type costs just under £1million.
Two years ago fashion designer Marcel was caught with eight designer handbags that had been stolen from Selfridges.
He admitted holding the goods before they were sold on Ebay, and was sentenced to 250 hours of community service.
Fleur has discussed his love of clothes, saying: “we spend a lot of time shopping. Picking out outfits, we love it. He’s so technical because he’s really into the fashion world, so I learn so much from him.
“It’s good because he’s so busy and passionate about his fashion line and I’m doing my music so we’re both fighting to where we want to be.”
Bizarrely, Fleur has admitted bad boy Marcel “gets jealous” of her teddy bear collection, and has to keep them at her mum’s.
Made to do push-ups before breakfast
Fleur – who previously worked as a fitness model – has shown off her impressive body in the jungle.
As well as dancing, she says she does high-intensity training, weights, circuits and pilates reformer classes.
Fleur has showed off her impressive bod in the jungle
Her love of exercise comes from her dad, who would make Fleur and her sister “do push-ups in the morning before we brushed our teeth, from the age of eight.”
Fleur has always eaten healthily, saying: “no one would ever give me an Easter egg because I would never eat it. If it was just me, I wouldn’t have any sweets or chocolate in the house.”
However, she does occasionally treat herself. “Because I’m so into fitness, people assume I’m strict,” she says. “I don’t go to a restaurant and order a salad, I’m not shy. I’ll eat other people’s leftovers.”
“I did try a diet once – it was coming up to festival season and I wanted to lose weight so I tried a no-carb but nothing changed and I just plateaued.”
Preparing for jungle life with phobia courses
Fleur prepared hard for jungle life, doing a course at London Zoo to get over her crippling arachnophobia, and intermittently fasting to stop her getting “hangry”.
Fleur, who was vegan due to “health reasons”, something she says was hard as “Nando’s was my best friend”, has eaten meat in the jungle to keep her energy up.
Fleur’s hard work has pulled off: she’s won several daunting Bushtucker Trials throughout her time on I’m a Celebrity and looks set to re-launch her career.
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Before she went to Australia she said: “I think it would be good for people to get to know me as Fleur and not just the singer on stage.
“They didn’t get to see me for me and a lot of my music coming out is really honest and I think it’s really true to who I am as a person.”
And Fleur has gained a whole load of new fans thanks to her I’m a Celeb stint.