If you’d been caught up in a social media storm after posting a picture of yourself with Zayn Malik, you might want to stay out of the spotlight for a while. But not if you’re Lauren Richardson, who received heaps of hate messages online after she uploaded a snap of herself with the former One Direction star in Thailand. She’s doing quite the opposite, instead booking a spot on returning reality show Love Island. We wonder what she’s going to talk about?
The ITV2 series will see Lauren join eleven other singletons, as they seek to find love while holed up in a stunning villa in Mallorca. Tough life, eh?
But before Lauren gets down to the business of romance, she’s having her say on the Zayn picture story that she says “got blown out of proportion”.
“I’m not a homewrecker, I’m not the one who split the band up, I’m just a nice average girl who was on holiday trying to have a good time,” she told RadioTimes.com, alluding to the various accusations made about her, which ranged from causing Zayn to leave the band, to creating trouble in his relationship with fiancé Perrie Edwards.
“There’s no juicy story behind it, which I think everyone is dying to hear,” she said with a smile, adding, “It’s just a picture.”
Lauren explained that on the night the picture was taken she’d found herself in the same nightclub as Zayn and, much to her own surprise, managed to wangle her way into the VIP area. “I asked for a picture, I posted my picture and it went absolutely mental.”
It wasn’t long after the incident that Zayn left the band which brought more accusations Lauren’s way, with some telling her that the story had “stressed him out”.
“It’s not my fault he’s left the band,” Lauren reiterated, adding that she’s had no contact with either Zayn or Perrie since.
The 26-year-old, who is a community sports officer, is hoping that appearing on a TV show will help people see past the girl in the Instagram snap.
“At the minute, they only see me through a picture. No one’s ever heard me speak, because I’ve never sold a story. I’ve never spoken about it publicly. It’s kind of an opportunity to go, do you know what, get to know me as a person, see what I’m like, then if you still have a problem with me, then write the stuff that you want to write. Let me come and tell my side of the story.”
But it all begs the obvious question: why even open herself – and the story – up to scrutiny again?
“With a TV show you can actually see my personality, so hopefully it gives everyone an impression that actually, she’s a really nice down to earth bubbly girl that does her job, earns a bit of money, goes out with her friends and gets by in life.
“I didn’t post that picture for a story to get money. It’s not in my nature to do that. I’m only speaking about it now because I’m going into the show, so I have to talk about it. Otherwise I probably would have kept it to myself and let people wonder.”
Although when the inevitable questions arise, she’s more than ready to set the record straight. “If someone asks me then, yeah [I’ll talk about it]. Other than that, no. I don’t see the need. I’ve said what I have to say now, if someone asks then I’ll say what happened.”
As for her sun-soaked stay on the island, Lauren admits she’s “looking for love”. “I’d like to find a nice dishin’ man,” she said (that’s a mix between dashing and dishy, apparently). “Someone who doesn’t take life too seriously.
“Nice body, look after yourself, some tattoos, they’ve got to be taller than me if I’m in a pair of high heels. And a good personality; make me laugh and you’re in there.”
Love Island starts Sunday 7th June on ITV2