Nicole O’Brien is moving on from dating shows. The Cork woman made a name for herself in 2020 when she appeared on Netflix’s Too Hot To Handle.
However, she never intended to become a TV personality.
Music was always Nicole’s dream, she tells VIP Magazine as we chat in a hotel in Dublin just hours before her single, C’est la Vie, goes live into the world.
She enthuses that she has wanted to become a singer “since I was a little baby”.
“I was performing on stage since I was five years old, I was always singing and dancing. My family is proper into music, there’s no sports or GAA in our house, it’s all just music. I’ve always grown up with it and I’ve always loved it,” she tells us.
“That’s always what I wanted to do, but my parents wanted me to go to college just in case it didn’t work out. I was like ‘Right okay.’ Then I had the mindset of ‘What if I do a reality show and get a following?’ and then I can have a loyal fanbase that I can release music to.”
It’s a smart plan, as she has wracked up an incredible 802k followers on Instagram and a further 234.9k followers on TikTok. It wasn’t something that she came up with overnight, as she had originally been set to appear in Love Island on 2016.
“I was meant to do Love Island in 2016 but then my parents were like two days before I was meant to leave: You’re not doing it, absolutely not. After they said I could! I was raging for years on end!
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“But then the same producer approached me for Too Hot To Handle. Everything happens for a reason. It gave me a platform to do my music. Where I am right now is where I worked to be for years and where I always wanted to be. I’m really grateful.”
She admits that she was so glad that things turned out this way as she was only 21 when she was first approached to appear on the second season of Love Island.
“I was definitely not confident in myself. I didn’t know who I was properly. I would have gone on and done something stupid. I’m really thankful my parents told me I couldn’t do it!
“Then the other show came around and I was better suited to that. I was older. I was more confident. I had my degree, happy days. I do believe your path is paved out for you and you work hard for what you want. I’m really excited I get to release the music that I want as well.”
Not only was she more confident in herself, Too Hot to Handle meant that she avoided a lot of the online bullying associated with Love Island. The Netflix series also dropped just a few days into the global lockdown.
“Everyone watched the show. My social following grew more but then I didn’t get to do the fun personal appearances so I lost out on a lot of money that way. Our season was the most watched because of lockdown. We gained a lot of social media followers and that’s all I wanted, so it worked out for the best,” she enthuses.
Of course, there was a downside to her appearing on shows like this as she admits she is faced with naysayers telling her she just wants to stay relevant.
“I had to post pictures of myself on social media when I was younger singing and performing. This is always what I wanted to do. It’s very unfair that people say that. I’ve purposely done TV to get where I am!”
So will she be shying away from her TV career now to completely focus on music?
“I don’t mind reality in terms of Dancing with the Stars, that stuff I would do. It fits me and anyone can do it,” she confesses, before adding she’s done with dating shows.
“I declined a lot of them over the last year and there’s been a good few. I am trying to get away from that. It’s so hard to get taken seriously in music if you do a dating show.”
Nicole’s single C’est la Vie is now streaming