From dating to Loose Women, OK!’s new columnist Judi Love is set to spill on life in the limelight

We are thrilled to announce Judi Love as our new OK! columnist, and we can't wait to hear her take on the biggest news and celebrity stories as well as her own experiences as a mother of two and a Loose Women panellist.

Exclusively for OK! VIP members, the 40 year old star opens up on how her fellow Loose Women presenter Charlene White inspires her and how she is feeling since recently losing her father.

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The past year has been an amazing one for Judi Love, as her career hit ever greater heights. From bagging a coveted slot as a Loose Women panellist to appearing on shows such as This Is My House and Dating No Filter, she has made herself a household name.

And now, the 40-year-old is about to add another string to her bow, as we are delighted to announce that she is OK!’s brand-new columnist!

A former social worker-turned-comic, Judi’s wealth of experience shines through when she discusses the UK’s hot topics with her fellow Loose ladies. She has eloquently tackled issues from dealing with racism to being a single mum and losing her mother to dementia in 2009.

Her mix of lightheartedness and empathy means she’s perfectly placed to discuss the biggest news and celebrity stories each week in OK! – and we can’t wait to hear what she’s got in store for our readers.

As we catch up during her glamorous shoot, Judi – who is mum to daughter Shan, 15, and son Shi, 11 – tells us her OK! column is a major life achievement

“I keep asking if it’s really happening! For me, born in East London and being dyslexic as a little girl, to be in OK! magazine, I’m just so excited,” she says.

However, as elated as she is, the star has had a tough month. Judi sadly lost her father and tells OK! she is still dealing with the shock.

Here, she opens up about her bereavement, being a mum and why it’s important for her to always be herself…

Hi, Judi. We’re really sorry to hear about your dad passing away, how are you doing?

Thank you. I’m just up and down. One minute I’m fine, then I get this feeling of, “Oh my gosh, my dad’s passed away.” We haven’t had the funeral yet, as it’s overseas and we are trying to sort out all the details. Sadly, it brings up all the memories of losing my mum as well. There’s that feeling of, “Wow, I’ve lost both of my parents”.

Was your dad living in Jamaica?

Yes, he retired and went back home. I feel very different in myself since my parents died. They are the two people who made me, so for them both to be gone it’s just really sad.

Had you been able to see your dad recently?

No, every time I tried to go over, either Jamaica was locked down or the UK was. I’m trying to find out if I can go over for the funeral, but it’s going to take time.

Have friends rallied around you?

Yes. Thank God we’re able to meet in the garden or the park now, that’s been a real help. When I initially got the phone call, I was leaving the house to go and pick up my son, so I drove crying to school. I’ve got friends, family, and work have been really great too.

How was your first day back on Loose Women?

I felt like I was fine, then I had a little meltdown in the dressing room. I’m glad I went through with it, but it made me realise I’m still very much in shock. I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet. But the nice thing is that I know the girls are really supportive.

You’ve had such an amazing year career-wise. How has life changed since joining Loose Women?

It’s been phenomenal. Sometimes I see myself on screen and I can’t believe I’m a Loose Woman! It’s definitely changed things for me. You often don’t get time to process the amazing things that happen to you, but for me it’s always important to take time out and just sit in gratitude. I am blessed to be able to do things that I love creatively.

Are you and the other Loose Women friends off-screen?

We message each other. Before lockdown, we’d have drinks too. We haven’t been able to have our summer party or anything like that this year, so we’ll do that when we can.

Did you feel nervous joining the show?

Definitely – these women are pros! They’ve got their friendships. They don’t really know who I am, so it’s new territory and trying to establish your voice. It’s live TV too, so I’ve been learning how they balance being their authentic selves, live, being compassionate and funny and informative. It’s a real skill!

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Who are you closest to?

Charlene [White], Brenda [Edwards], Nadia [Sawalha], Stacey [Solomon], Kaye [Adams] and Linda [Robson] are who I speak to most.

Is there anyone you look up to?

All of them. I’m inspired by Charlene’s professional achievements, and Brenda is raising amazing children. Janet Street-Porter, because she just lives – she holds back from nothing. Whatever she wanted to experience, she experienced. Linda is a legend! Stacey is an entrepreneur, a savvy queen. Kaye and Jane are journalists and teach you so many different skills. I am really inspired by them all every day.

Were there any topics you were worried about speaking about, or found difficult?

It was difficult to talk about dementia, because that’s what my mum passed away from. I’m open to many different topics because of the work I used to do in social care and I’ve seen so many people go through different life-changing situations. I like to use my platform so people know it’s OK to have a conversation. Sometimes it’s serious and is done with compassion, but sometimes it’s just fun. That’s the balance.

You’ve talked about experiencing racism since being on the show too…

We’ve had people tweeting to say they were upset when we had four black panellists. But equally, I’ve had people say I’m supporting obesity. There are always trolls. But I find Loose Women tries to protect us, whether that’s removing comments or having a conversation with us. It is changing the narrative – having four black panellists made history. That shows power.

How do you deal with trolling?

I laugh it off, or message back saying, “See you next week.” My coping mechanism is to not to read the comments. Trolls often tweet from fake accounts, so they are clearly cowards. Why would I argue with a coward? I’m not going to waste my energy on them.

Have you dealt with racism or sizeism in this industry in the past?

There’s always been a depiction of what is acceptable on TV. But I’ve shown that it’s not going to stop me and that it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been to comedy shows where people think I’m the cleaner. I’ve had people say, “Oh, we’re definitely going to hit our diversity target with you.” It doesn’t happen as much now, people seem to be more aware, but it happens.

Is it important for you to discuss these topics on a mainstream programme like Loose Women?

All I can be is myself. People might say, “She’s a black woman”, “She’s a feminist”, or “She’s a joker”. There are so many labels. But all I can be is myself. That’s going to be a mix of my culture, where I grew up, and what my beliefs are. Things I love or have witnessed. My main aim is to engage with people and maybe change a stereotype. If you’re not seeing women of colour on TV, in columns, on sitcoms, then when it does come up that’s why it seems like it’s not normal – that needs to change.

On that note, are you excited about your OK! column?

I keep asking if it’s really happening! I’m just so excited. I love the magazine – the wedding shoots, the celebrity news. To know I’ve done a photoshoot and have a column, it’s incredible. I’m going to frame the first column!

Can we expect you to be yourself and not hold back with your opinions?

Yes! I can’t be anything else but myself. It’s worked for me so far!

You’ve got two lovely kids. What do they make of your fame?

They can find it quite embarrassing. But the other day we went to Chessington World of Adventures and got VIP passes, so we didn’t have to queue. Of all the things I’ve done, this was the most impressive to them! They were like, “Wow, mum, you’re famous!”

You’ve talked about struggling to make ends meet in the past. Is it something you remind yourself and them of now?

I always tell the kids about gratitude and appreciating what they have. We talk about the difficult times, the place we used to live that had black mould, which affected my son’s health. They see it. I don’t want them to be spoilt, I want to have a foundation for them.

Are they proud of you?

I think they are. My son was watching me on This Is My House the other day and said, “Well done, Mum.” It’s nice! My daughter’s always trying to spoil me on my birthdays and stuff too.

Are you dating at the moment?

I’m definitely dating! Which is a good thing. I’m just loving myself and where I am. I know now what I need and what I want. It’s a nice feeling when you can meet someone and get on with them.

How do the kids feel about you dating?

It’s important as a single parent for your children to see that you need to be loved and cared for too, because you’re always caring for them.

How have you all dealt with being locked down together over the past year?

We’ve all had those low moments. I had one time when I just got in my car and drove for half an hour! But it’s definitely brought us closer.

Was it nice to get glammed up for the OK! shoot?

It was amazing to be pampered and I loved the clothes! I follow trends to a certain extent, but more than that I try to dress for my shape and be a cool mum!

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