"I believe happiness is working hard and being kind"
From fronting ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! to anchoring MTV News, Laura Whitmore is on a serious career roll. She chats to Barry Egan
The last time I met Laura Whitmore she rewrote the book on cool. Despite wearing something probably designery, Laura held my then six-month-old baby on her lap for 15 minutes while I attempted to interview her.
I was worried that Emilia would get, ever-so-gently, sick on the MTV superstar. The MTV superstar was, however, more worried about whether Emilia needed to be fed her bottle.
Babies are great at sussing out people - and my baby's instinct was clearly that Laura Whitmore was sufficiently sincere and lovely not to get sick on. Seven months later, Laura Whitmore's first question is: "How's the baby?" She wants to see pictures. She also wants to drink herbal tea and talk God, Donald Trump, honesty in men, Tayto crisps and inner, non-material matters.
"I am incredibly spiritual," she says. "I believe in working hard and being kind."
I ask her what is her greatest fear. "To not appreciate what I have."
Laura Whitmore, I think you'll agree, is quite a self-aware and philosophical young woman. "My parents split up before I was born," explains Laura, who was born on May 4, 1985. For the record, she looks more 25 than almost 31.
"My mum Carmel and dad are great mates. I am very lucky to have both in my life equally. I've got two lovely half-brothers who are my full brothers to me. One is turning 17 next week - and he is a proper grown-up - and the other one is 20."
It says something about Laura that her heroes are her family. "My mam. My friends. The people who graft and work hard behind the scenes without the glory."
When was the last time she cried?
"Watching the movie Brooklyn. I guess it drew some comparisons to my own life in a way," she says, referring to the fact that in 2007 she moved to London from Bray, the Co. Wicklow seaside town just outside Dublin where she grew up.
Laura, who has an idiosyncratic sense of humour, says she'd bring a Martian who came down to Earth for the night "probably to a gig in London and a good boogie on a dance-floor, with maybe some curry ships on the way home".
She names Roald Dahl as her favourite writer. "It's his fault I've such a vivid imagination."
What five items would she bring to a desert island?
"A phone. A ship with fuel. A captain. A bottle of Sancerre - and some Tayto."
I ask her what goes through her head when she is about to go live for I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in front of millions of television viewers
"'Lets try not to f**k this up Laura,'" she replies with a hearty laugh. "I can't believe I've anchored that show for five years, the longest running anchor on the ITV2 show. It's a great crew and everyone works really hard. I'm not sure if it's maybe time for me to hang up the jungle boots for the soon. Though I've been saying that for a few years now ..."
Asked if she were to interview Donald Trump for MTV, what would be her opening question and why, she replies without hesitation: "If you could listen to one song before you die what would it be? Music taste tells a lot about a person."
Does she think his racism is as bad as his hairdo?
"Donald Trump is an evil villain in a comic book movie. He is a real-life Lex Luthor with worse hair. It scares me that a man who is not only racist but also extremely sexist has managed to get so far in life."
Is Laura a political person? "Not particularly. I care more about the issues than the politicians themselves," she says.
Implacably decent, even normal - quite a feat for a beautiful young woman who has enough global publicity, from UK and France Vogue to the New York Times, US Elle and Harper's Bazaar and beyond, to make her a bona fide international TV star - Laura is not full of the proverbial.
Every eye in the place is on her the afternoon we met up in Dublin, yet she remains grounded and self-deprecating. This is probably something to do with growing up in a two-bed house in Bray where the soundtrack from her room was the sound of the Dart coming in.
She tells me the story of being at a Ralph Lauren dinner in the very grand Althorp House on 13,000 acres in Northamptonshire last summer and feeling - endearingly - "completely and utterly out of my league".
"It was at the Spencers' residence. Earl Spencer was hosting it with the Lauren family."
Lady Laura of MTV and ITV2 recalls sitting in the house where Lady Diana grew up "when Kitty Spencer, the Earl's daughter, says to me, 'nice to meet you, I have to tell you something really embarrassing, you are my dad's crush'.
"I said, 'what?' And she said, 'my dad's favourite show is I'm a Celebrity'. I went, 'Jesus!'" Laura says now hooting with laughter.
She was doubtless hooting with a similar awed disbelief in April, 2008 when she won a once-in-lifetime job on MTV as a presenter; she beat over 3,000 other applicants on Pick Me MTV.
"When I first started the MTV job I didn't know whether people were laughing along with me or at me. Or maybe it is the Irish mannerisms. You get away with murder, I find, when you're Irish. It's the banter," she told me in a 2012 interview, "
Would Laura move back to Dublin one day or is she way too ambitious with her career in England and Europe to do that for a good few years yet?
"Who knows," she replies with Sphinx-like presence. "I love travelling, so not sure where or when I'll settle down. London is my home now but Dublin has a lovely spirit that I will always be connected to."
Would she like to get married one day?
"Yes - when the timing is right ..."
Are you conventional in the sense of settling down, getting hitched, having a few kids and living in domestic bliss in London?
"There's no such thing as conventional," Laura answers.
Is she a domestic goddess? Or a bit of a non-entity around the house?
"I'm a bit of a nester. I'm the one making cups of tea and snacks for everyone," says Laura, who lives with her friend Conor McDonnell - the photographer who did Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's wedding in Italy in 2014 - and her dog Mick, named after Mr Jagger. Laura looks like an agreeable mutant of the aforesaid Mick's daughter Georgia May Jagger and Lara Stone.
What is the quality she most likes in a man?
Who was the greatest love of your life?
It's a bit like David Bowie's Space Oddity when Ground Control comes on the intergalactic telephone thingy to tell Major Tom that he's "really made the grade/And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear". I tell her that everyone wants to know if she is single or in a relationship.
"It's not really their business," Laura says with a half-smile. "Maybe I am dating someone ..." she says, trailing off. "But it is scary how things can get blown out of proportion. And I learned a long time ago it's good to keep some things for yourself," she adds.
"It's unnecessary pressure to have people speculating. I've always been private with certain parts of my life. Sharing a picture of me and a boyfriend on Instagram, months after being followed unknowingly and pictured on a first date, doesn't mean I have to tell the world every single detail of my relationship.
"And believe me, my life would be a lot more exciting if half the things written were true. I do find it difficult for a woman in this business that you get judged more on what you wear or who you are talking to than what's going on in your brain. And it's demeaning that, as a girl, if someone approaches you, it must lead to something else. I'm not sure if guys get it the same. I'm just a girl at the end of the day getting on with life.
"Most of the guys I've been pictured with are just people I've had a laugh with and some banter. Can you imagine being connected to everyone you chatted to on a night out? What a scary thought. I'm very loyal to my friends and the people in my life. And they know me very well, thankfully and they know when things are fabricated."
What is her motto?
"Work hard and be kind."
True to her word of working hard, Laura is off to Los Angeles for TV commitments the day after we meet up.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how actually swish and ritzy and fancy pants glam is her life?
"Less than 4. I am always working."
On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy is she?
"One of my good friends, Max, said to me recently that being happy is nothing to do with money or defining where you are. It's just waking up everyday and being appreciative of what you are doing, what you are experiencing and who you are with."