From Gemma Collins to Kem Cetinay: Reality stars born in and around Romford
- Credit: PA
Romford has bred some of the UK's most influential reality TV stars, from Love Island singles to TOWIE cast members.
Following Love Island’s announcement of its new line-up, we take a look at some of the area's home-grown celebrities.
Gemma Collins is synonymous with The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE), joining the cast in 2011.
Born in Romford in 1981, she attended Rise Park Primary School before heading off to theatre school.
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She has starred in Celebrity Big Brother, Dancing on Ice, Celebs Go Dating and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.
Her clothing line, Gemma Collins Collection, is registered in nearby Ilford.
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She added: “I grew up in Romford and I still absolutely love it.
"I love Romford Market and the pie and mash shop and the people because of their spirit.
“Romford has just got a warmth that you don’t get anywhere else and I always feel at home when I come to the town.”
Gemma's fellow TOWIE star Amy Childs also went to school in Havering.
She moved to Brentwood as a child and attended Raphael Independent School in Hornchurch.
Amy’s father Billy owned a fireworks shop on Romford’s North Street.
In 2011, Amy was named Personality of the Year at the National Reality TV Awards.
Co-star Sam Faiers starred in the original series of TOWIE in 2010, and in total featured in 11 seasons.
She later featured in Celebrity Big Brother and launched her own series, Sam Faiers: The Baby Diaries.
Sam and sister Billie own a Brentwood boutique clothes shop, Minnie's boutique, and in 2016 she opened a new Romford store for the Haven House Children's Hospice.
Love Island star Kem Cetinay, who appeared on the show in 2017 and now hosts its official podcast, is opening a new restaurant in Romford.
He told this paper last year: “I’m a local boy trying to do something special for the locals.
“It’s very exciting for me and my family.”
Girl band singer Frankie Bridge was born in Upminster in 1989, and was a reality TV star before becoming a singer.
In 2001, she auditioned for TV competition S Club Search and won a place in the pop group S Club Juniors.
She later joined The Saturdays, who released their first UK number-one single What About Us in 2012.
Speaking to the Mail Online last year, the singer spoke about her mental health problems growing up.
She said: “For as long as I can remember I had suffered from anxiety, nervousness, the big black cloud, stress, low moods, sadness.
“As a little girl growing up in Upminster — my dad Kevin was a taxi driver and my mum Viv was an events organiser — I lived with it in silence and tried to conquer it alone."
Fellow bandmate Rochelle Humes is also local, born in Barking in 1989, Rochelle attended Upminster’s Coopers’ Company & Coborn School.
She said: “CPA have always been there for me through my training and performing career. I am very proud to be their patron.
“I want to give someone the opportunity to receive the training that I was lucky enough to have had.”
Another CPA alumnus is Jessie J (real name Jessica Ellen Cornish), who grew up in nearby Chadwell Heath.
Aged 11, the talented schoolgirl joined Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End production of Whistle Down the Wind.
Another Jesy from Romford town is Little Mix's Jesy Nelson, born Jessica Louise Nelson in 1991.
She attended Dagenham's Jo Richardson Community School before going to Abbs Cross Academy and Arts College in Hornchurch.
Jesy entered the eighth series of talent competition The X Factor as a soloist, but was put into a girl band by the judges.
Little Mix were the first group to ever win the competition and went on to be one of the best-selling girl groups of all time.
Reality TV star-turned-presenter Rylan Clark-Neal also grew up nearby.
He attended The Coopers' Company and Coborn School, like Rochelle.
Rylan, born Ross Richard Clark, made his mark in the ninth series of The X Factor in 2012, and went on to present The One Show, This Morning and his own chat shows.
Love Island contestant Zara McDermott is also thought to be a Romford local.
In 2018, shortly after leaving the villa, her boyfriend Adam Collard had a tattoo tribute to Zara inked on his hand in a Romford tattoo parlour.
The pair were reportedly living with Zara's family in Romford at the time.
Though he's not technically a reality TV star, James Buckley is worth a mention.
The comedian, who played Jay in British comedy The Inbetweeners, was born in Croydon before moving to Dagenham aged 11.
He later went to then-The Chafford School in Rainham, now Harris Academy Rainham, whilst also starring in various West End shows.