Jacqueline Jossa says acting helped her cope after her dad went to prison

Jacqueline Jossa with her dad John, mum Selina, daughter Mia and sister Katrina
(Image: Collect)

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At the time her dad was jailed, Jacqueline had just won Best Newcomer at the National Television Awards and her career was going from strength to strength.

The soap star, who played Lauren in the BBC soap from 2010 to 2018, said acting for her turned into an escape.

Speaking on Vicky Pattison’s podcast, Jacqueline said: “I spent more time on Lauren than I did on me.

“I would get so into it that all I would think about was ‘I wonder what the next script is going to say’, because I loved it so much

“So when that was gone, I was like ‘who am I?’ It’s all on me now.'”

Jacqueline as Lauren Barnning in EastEnders
(Image: BBC)

The I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winner, who was crowned Queen of the Jungle in 2019, said all her pent up emotions would get released on set.

She continued: “I think it was therapeutic for me. If I’ve got something personal going on – like my dad went to prison all while I was on EastEnders.

“I was lucky enough that I’d be able to come on to set and cry my eyes out and scream and shout.

“And physically go off on someone – if she [Lauren] was drunk I could go ‘yeah’ and my whole body would feel it. Then I would go home and I’d feel alright.”

Jacqueline with her husband Dan and daughters Ella and Mia
(Image: Instagram)

Jacqueline quit the soap in 2018 to “try new things” – but no longer having the mental release of acting meant her mental health suffered.

She said: “When that was taken and that was gone, I didn’t have that release and it was all in here then.

"When I was going through something, it just continued to stay in, stay in, stay in.

“Had I had still had that release of getting it out, it would have been better for my head.”

Since leaving the soap, Jacqueline has got married to former TOWIE star Dan Osborne, who she shares daughters Ella, six, and three-year-old Mia with.

She still continues to act and make TV appearances and has also carved out a career for herself as a social media star, clocking up 3.2 million followers.