Having soared to fame as one fifth of Girls Aloud, changing up her career was a challenge for Kimberley Walsh – here’s how she managed to conquer her nerves and went her own way…
Making a career change is daunting at the best of times, but when the first 10 years of your working life were spent in Girls Aloud, one of the biggest girl groups in history, the pressure is on another level.
That was the situation facing Kimberley Walsh after the band went on hiatus back in 2009, as she looked to make her way as a solo performer in the world of musical theatre.
Here, the former pop star tells us how she made the leap from globe-trotting headliner to novice leading lady, and how she was able to tap into her inner power to quell those inevitable moments of self-doubt…
“Striking out on your own feels very odd after being in the comfort blanket of five girls for so long.
It wasn’t like I was becoming a solo artist – that would have been even weirder, I think – but theatre was a totally different area for me, and it was very odd not to have them there to support me.
In a group you always know that there’s going to be someone there to look out for you, but when you’re going solo, it’s all on you.
I’m a natural worrier. I worry always, about everything, and I’ll always think of the worst-case scenario.
When it came to joining Shrek: The Musical (her 2011 breakthrough), I thought that people might judge me, that they might assume I’d be difficult, that they might think the producers were just bringing a name in.
I definitely heard a few people saying, ‘Oh, she’ll never do eight shows a week’, but being in Girls Aloud had prepped me for that kind of graft.
The first night was a lot of pressure. There was a press night, and all eyes were fully on me – I was really nervous, but actually, you realise it can only get easier from that point.
I find breathing techniques are genuinely helpful in that situation. I used to look at people and think, ‘Oh, why are you doing that?’, but giving yourself that space, doing the technique and making sure you’ve got enough room to breathe, it really helps you a lot.
I think there’s a real power in coping with that kind of stress, to be able to find that calm within yourself when you need it.
It’s also something you get better at with age. You know yourself more, you trust yourself because you’ve been in similar situations before, you feel like, ‘Actually, I’m going to be OK.’
I definitely feel that I’ve learnt to deal with nerves much better the older that I’ve got. I won’t let situations consume me like I might have done in the early days.
When I did Girls Aloud and Popstars: The Rivals I would feel like my whole body was consumed with anxiety the whole time. It’s definitely got better since then. My inner confidence is much stronger.
Being able to take control of my appearance also helps with that confidence.
I’ve got three kids now, so I don’t have the time to spend ages getting myself made up and doing my hair every day, but the only thing I can easily take control of and feel good about is my skin.
Skin is a big thing for me – if I’m not feeling good about my skin, it definitely makes me feel less confident.
I’ve never really invested in crazy, expensive stuff – I’ve always preferred a really simple regime, based around moisturising heavily before bed and making sure I take off my make-up properly.
I find Avon’s products are perfect for that kind of routine, because they’re simple, effective and inexpensive too. I use the Anew Renewal Power Serum, alongside the day cream and night cream.
I’ve tried retinol products before, but I didn’t really get on with them. I love how fast the Protinol in the serum seems to be working.
It’s not about trying to reverse the ageing process, it’s just about making sure our skin looks its best on a daily basis.
I’ve got a five-month-old baby, I’m up in the night, I’m dehydrated constantly… if I can combat that and feel like I look quite fresh, it does give me a spring in my step.
The most exhilarating and amazing experiences that I’ve had in my life have all come from feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
I’ve realised that you do tend to grow when you push yourself out of your comfort zone.
It was the same when I did Strictly – I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into in terms of the workload, and it was also scary going back to being judged.
Obviously, that’s how I started out in the industry, through a competition, so I didn’t love that element of it, but in the end it was just the most amazing experience.
I’ve surprised myself with some of the things that I’ve been able to do in my life. I climbed Kilimanjaro, for example, which is the furthest thing away from what I would usually do.
I hated gym at school, I walk as little as I can… my friends were like, ‘Are you mad?’
But you do grow as a human being through pushing yourself in that way, and you never regret doing those things. You only regret turning them down.
There’s something powerful in recognising that.
Want to replicate Kimberley’s skincare routine for yourself? Introduce some Protinol™ into your routine? The award-winning ingredient is in Avon’s Anew Renewal Power Serum and it is packed with patented Protinol™ technology, proven to deliver seven skincare benefits in just seven days*. Thanks to the serum’s award-winning formula, you can expect to see stronger-feeling, more resilient skin with a radiant glow, all without the irritation that some retinol-users experience.** Time to get confident in your skin and tap into your inner power.
* Based on 206 participants who expressed their opinion in a consumer perception study.
** Based on a historical comparison of clinical testing results across internal Avon formulations containing retinol, as compared to formulations containing Protinol.