Zara Holland is a model and fashion boutique owner who is probably best known for appearing on ITV’s reality show ‘Love Island’.
She has spoken openly about her time on the show in the hope of helping to encourage all reality TV producers to put in place more stringent procedures to help cast-mates cope with life after the cameras stop filming.
We met up with Zara at her home to find out more and to meet her dog Eddie, who she says makes her laugh constantly with his antics.
Hi Zara, thanks for chatting with us today.
Hi! Thank you! Oh my god, Eddie loves all of his goodies from the photo shoot. The toys, the shampoo, everything – all amazing. I can’t thank you enough, we had a great time and it was a lovely day.
I can’t wait to find out more about Eddie. What led you to him?
We’ve had Eddie for an amazing two years now and before that, we had English Bulldogs. Mum and I actually used to show them, we’ve both been to Crufts a couple of times with them. Sadly they passed away about five years ago.
So you had a little time without a dog in the home?
Yes, I think as most dog lovers would say, you need some time before you bring another dog into the home, don’t you?
What made you choose a French Bulldog?
Well, we’d seen a few around and they are quite similar to our original dogs but it was such a big decision because we all have busy lifestyles so we decided we wanted a small-ish dog, who could come with us everywhere and a dog with a big character too. Every French Bulldog we’d seen seemed to have that about them. We probably saw around four litters before we met Eddie and we thought ‘a-ha, it’s you we need to come into our lives’ and that was that.
How did you come up with his name because we do love a human name for a dog?
My mum came up with Eddie’s name for no other reason than he just looked like an Eddie.
You mentioned choosing a French Bulldog because you wanted a dog with character so what’s he like?
Eddie’s hilarious. He is so cheeky, very needy – he’s such a mummy’s boy – and he’s so clever. I think all French Bulldogs are the same, they are very intelligent and know exactly what’s going on and have a lot of character too. I can’t say Eddie’s very obedient (laughs). He sits and gives his paw if he knows there’s food around but he lights up our lives every day and that’s what dogs are all about, isn’t it? They are a part of the family and Eddie’s brought so much fun and happiness into our family, he really has.
I know you own two fashion boutiques, does Eddie come to work with you?
He does. He has a thing about anything with pompoms or tassels so he was with me the other day and I thought ‘oh Eddie’s gone a little bit quiet’ and he was in the window with a pair of tassel earrings which then had to go in the bin. Everyone loves him and wants to meet him and he loves to watch everyone going about their business.
You’ve spoken a lot about mental health issues and of having anxiety yourself. How have your dogs helped you cope with anxiety over the years?
You definitely have an extra sense of support with a dog by your side.
With Eddie, although I think it applies to everyone in the household but especially me, he loves a walk so if you need to clear your head it’s brilliant to just get out with him and he’s very loyal. He knows if you’re not very well, he’ll stay by your side. He’s very caring. I think if you’re suffering from anxiety or just having a bad day in general, dogs give you so much extra support because you have your best friend by your side and a ready-made excuse to get some fresh air and clear your head.
They are brilliant for that, aren’t they?
They are. I think if you haven’t got a dog you won’t get it but people who have dogs will understand.
That’s true and some dogs are more sensitive than others, aren’t they?
I have three dogs and my youngest, who also happens to be the heaviest, is the most sensitive of them all. He’s a Rottweiler who thinks he’s a Yorkshire Terrier in size and weight.
(Laughs) It’s like humans though, isn’t it? It would be boring if everyone was the same.
‘Love Island’ has been in the news a lot lately in the build-up to the latest series launching in relation to its aftercare failings. What do you think of the situation?
What I said in the press recently, and some have twisted it, was that after axing Jeremy Kyle’s show, they were contradicting themselves by not axing ‘Love Island’, especially when there have been two suspected deaths (Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon). The show was never going to go away, it generates ITV too much money – last year it generated them £5 million just from the app – so it was always going to go ahead but I hope, really hope, that the aftercare is a lot better. That’s the thing for me.
Is there a wider issue with reality TV do you think?
Yes. This isn’t just about ‘Love Island’ let’s be honest, in reality TV in general, the producers are going to play with your emotions. A reality TV show is pretty boring if everyone’s happy, and that’s sad but it’s true. You then think who’s to blame for that and you’ve got social media which we all know can be pretty nasty at times.
One of the suspected deaths linked to ‘Love Island’ relates to your friend Sophie, who was with you on the show in 2016.
How big a part does social media play, emotionally? It must mentally take it’s toll when one minute you’re gaining a lot of followers and friends and the next week you have people saying anything they like at you?
Yes, it’s really hard. It’s a very vivid memory for me because it’s still so recent really and I think others who’ve been through something similar would back me up, but about a year and a half after our series of ‘Love Island’ had been on and everything had settled down, a new series was even airing, ITV sold our 2016 series to Netflix. But they didn’t let anyone know, so I woke up one morning to an extra 40,000 followers and just thought something had gone wrong on Instagram but it hadn’t, it was because the series was available to the world to watch. The fear and abuse from trolls came back overnight and I just didn’t have time to mentally prepare myself for it.
People say ‘but Zara you applied for the show’ and I did because you think you know what you’re getting yourself into. I mean, you apply because you want to get onto the reality TV show, however, I think there are ways the TV people and producers can help you cope and prepare for it all, and for us, we didn’t get that. So that was the hard part.
So there was nothing given to you to help you prepare for how life would change after the show?
No, there was nothing. They always said the support was there but they never offered it. So that was the hardest thing for a lot of us.
I mean when I was on the show around 400,000 people watched it nightly, now it’s four million. I hope things will change. I hope the aftercare will get better.
Before ‘Love Island’ had you watched much reality TV?
I was always a fan of ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ so I’d definitely watched a bit.
Thinking back to the earliest series’ of ‘Big Brother’, do you think we lose our innocence around reality TV the more our favourite shows grow in popularity?
Yes. I don’t think TV producers ever expected that the public would be so interested in what goes on in other people’s lives here.
It’s kind of like legitimate curtain twitching, isn’t it?
Of course. I mean if you compare it to social media and think about how that’s changed – if you said ten years ago that companies would be paying bloggers to promote their products you’d probably think it was nonsense but that’s what happens.
Fingers crossed lessons are learnt moving forward.
Okay so let’s get back to Eddie. I always say that these are probably questions you won’t have been asked before – and probably won’t be again – so we can have some fun.
If you were to swap roles with Eddie for a day, what would you love most about being him and how do you think he’d cope being you?
(Laughs) I’d love to be him for a day because he eats and sleeps a lot and he’s probably the most spoilt dog I’ve ever met. I think Eddie would get tired very quickly if he were me because I’m always so busy. I think he’d definitely miss his afternoon naps and snacks if he were me but I’d love to sleep as much as he does.
Dogs sleep on average between 11 and 14 hours a day, apparently.
That’s definitely Eddie, although when it gets to six o’clock he has a mad hour. He gets his squeaky toys and goes mad and all you hear is ‘squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak’.
We ask all of our celebrities this question, it’s all in the name of fun.
Based on personalities alone, which breeds of dog come to mind when you think of these celebrities and why?
David Walliams – (Laughs) He’s quite fun and bouncy, isn’t he? I think he’d be a Poodle because they’re quite energetic and funny and I think that would bring out his personality.
Jess Impiazzi – I know Jess. She’s so kind and loving I would say she’d be a Labrador because they’re very clever and super kind and I think that’s Jess all over. She’s so beautiful, she’s helped me through a lot and always been such a great friend.
Chris Hughes – I’ve met Chris too. I’m going to say he’d be a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel because Chris comes from the countryside down South and I think a Cavalier has a royal/posh look about them and I think Chris gives that vibe but at the same time he’s lovable and emotional when he’s in a relationship, as he is with Jesy (Nelson from Little Mix), and you can see all of that too.
Meghan Markle – I think she would be a Miniature Dachshund, beautiful in a small package. I love the breed but I think they can have quite a feisty side to them and especially with her doing acting as well, I think Meghan has both sides to her.
And what about you, what breed of dog would you be and why?
(Laughs) Oh, Kim! This is hard. Can I be Eddie again?
Okay, I think I’d be Eddie (laughs).
Moving onto our quick-fire questions, are you ready?
Go for it.
Tell us something that not many people know about you.
I can’t drink gin. It goes straight to my head. (laughs).
Can you share with us what Eddie last did to make you really laugh out loud?
Last night it was Elliot’s birthday so we were all having a family dinner and I’d got him some balloons. They were on the table but I put the silver weight holding the three helium balloons together on the floor and we were all just chatting when all of a sudden we saw these balloons just move past us, it was like they were being blown away, but Eddie had actually got the end of the silver weight and was running outside with them and because he’s so little, all we could see was the three balloons just going outside (laughs). It was hilarious, my mum took a video of it.
Have you ever pictured Eddie with a voice? If so, what accent does he have?
(Laughs) I’m going to sound crackers but I have and because of his breed he has a French accent.
What do you think is the most important life lesson we can learn from dogs?
To not take life so seriously and just be happy.
Finish the following sentence, my dog is…
mischievous. No actually, because he’s a good boy I’m going to say my dog is handsome. He might be able to read. (laughs)
This is always a tough question so you might need some time to think about it, but if you could ask Eddie one question and one question only, what would you ask him and what do you think he’d say?
I would ask him ‘what’s the one thing you want to do?’ because I can then make sure we do it or if there was anything in particular that he wanted I could get it for him.
Many thanks, Zara!
(Article source: K9)