I feared having sex on Love Island would ruin my career so I’ve got a lot to prove in 9 to 5 stage musical role says Amber Davies

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HER on-screen romps made Amber Davies a household name as she triumphed on Love Island in 2017.

But two years later she admits the reality TV show could have cost her a credible career — until country star Dolly Parton took a chance to cast her in West End comedy musical 9 To 5.

Amber Davies tells of her relief that sex on TV didn't keep her from West End stage
Amber Davies tells of her relief that sex on TV didn’t keep her from West End stage
James Rudland

Today, after a raft of five-star reviews from critics and fans, Amber tells of her relief at finally shaking off the stigma of having sex on screen with then boyfriend Kem Cetinay and ­realising her dreams of big-stage success — with talk of Broadway and major TV dramas to follow.

In an exclusive interview, Amber says: “I had a lot to prove and, yes, I feared having sex on TV could have a negative impact on my acting career. My aim has been for people to stop thinking of me as Amber from Love Island.

“I was only 20 and I’ve realised now I had a lot of growing up to do — and I have done. People ask me if I just did Love Island as a fast track to the top. That wasn’t the case. I went for it on a whim. But I’ve put the hours in since and worked so hard to change ­people’s perception. So it’s a relief it has paid off.

“The 9 To 5 reviews have been amazing and the reaction from everyone has been that they’ve been pleasantly surprised. I can’t believe really senior people in the business have now been approaching me.”

Love Island 2017 winners Amber Davies and Kem Cetinay in an on-screen romp 
Love Island 2017 winners Amber Davies and Kem Cetinay in an on-screen canoodle
Rex Features
The reality TV show made both Amber and Kem household names
The reality TV show made both Amber and Kem household names
Rex Features

The role has seen Amber strike up a close friendship with music legend Dolly, who co-wrote the stage show and starred in the 1980 film version.

Dolly, 73, has become a mentor to Amber after admitting she sees ­herself in the young British star.

Amber plays Jane Fonda’s role of Judy Bernly from the 1980 flick, a satire about three female secretaries who decide to get revenge on their sexist boss by abducting him and running the business themselves.

She adds of Dolly: “We’ve met a few times and she seems to have taken me under her wing. She told me I’m precious. I couldn’t believe it — not only does Dolly know who I am, she wants to look out for me. She sees her 22-year-old self in me.”

Amber plays Judy - Jane Fonda's role in the 80s flick - in musical 9 to 5
Amber plays Judy – Jane Fonda’s role in the 80s flick – in musical 9 to 5
Pamela Raith
Country star Dolly Parton was the one to cast the reality star in the West End musical
Country star Dolly Parton was the one to cast the reality star in the West End musical
Instagram

Since splitting from Kem, Amber has been linked to several men including Liam Payne, who she enjoyed a brief flirtation with. She says: “I do know Liam — we have met and are still friends. But there’s nothing romantic happening.”

She adds: “It’s a tough one because people in the industry understand what people outside of the industry don’t understand. But sometimes it’s nicer to meet people who aren’t in the industry because they are just ­normal. Over the past year, I’ve realised I don’t know what I want — and that I’m definitely not ready for a relationship.”

Tonight at 9pm, ITVBe airs documentary Amber And Dolly: 9 To 5, charting the highs and lows of the Love Island star’s journey from ­reality TV to the West End stage.

It sees her sob as the anaesthetic wears off following an op to have her ears pinned due to her insecurity about appearing on stage in 9 To 5. She tells the camera: “My ears have knocked my confidence for years.”

American Dolly has become a mentor to the young Brit star
American Dolly has become a mentor to the young Brit star
Rex Features
The performance has received a raft of five-star reviews from critics and fans
The performance has received a raft of five-star reviews from critics and fans
Instagram

Brit star Amber talks of her Broadway and TV dreams after 9 to 5 success
Instagram

Brit star Amber talks of her Broadway and TV dreams after 9 to 5 success[/caption]

Amber now hopes 9 To 5, which highlights issues raised by the #MeToo movement, will show the challenges faced by young women in showbiz.

She says: “Violet, one of the characters, makes a joke because it’s obviously set in the Eighties and says, ‘Oh, I bet in ten years’ time there won’t be these issues.’ That’s the point of it, it is still an issue.

“I like to think my character is who I was when I was 16 — naive and didn’t know how to stand on her own two feet. Her journey is about surrounding yourself with people who want you to do well. It’s about female empowerment.”

She adds: “I’ve heard stories of women still having issues in the industry but I am the type to brush things off.”

Amber says there are many parallels between her and her role in the musical 
Instagram

Amber says there are many parallels between her and her character in the musical[/caption]

Amber Davies gushed over her idol Dolly, 73, as she started in her role 
Instagram

Amber Davies gushed over her idol Dolly, 73, as she started in the musical[/caption]

Natalie McQueen (Doralee Rhodes), Caroline Sheen (Violet Newstead), Amber Davies (Judy Bernly), Dolly Parton (Music/Lyrics), Bonnie Langford (Roz Keith) and Brian Conley (Franklin Hart) during the curtain call'9 to 5 the Musical' curtain, Press Night, London, UK - 17 Feb 2019
Rex Features

Natalie McQueen (Doralee Rhodes), Caroline Sheen (Violet Newstead), Amber Davies (Judy Bernly), Dolly Parton (Music/Lyrics), Bonnie Langford (Roz Keith) and Brian Conley (Franklin Hart) during the curtain call ‘9 to 5 the Musical’ curtain, Press Night, London, UK – 17 Feb 2019[/caption]

Despite the acclaim, Amber is still burning with ambitions.

She says: “One of my goals is Broadway but I’m only 22 and Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m also interested in TV work. I’m interested in other musicals and there’s reality shows I want to tick off, like Dancing On Ice and Strictly.

“But I value what I’ve got. I appreciate what Love Island did for me. It gave me a wake-up and I’ve had to grow up. I’ve clued up.

'I appreciate what Love Island did for me', says the 22-year-old
‘I appreciate what Love Island did for me,’ says the 22-year-old


“Coming into this industry, you have to have your head screwed on. You can’t trust everyone, only those closest to you because some people are out to get you.

“It would have been easy to make money fast. We’ve turned down offers for stuff that was easy money but wasn’t right for the long term.

“That’s sometimes hard to do — but I’m giving this everything.”

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