‘I Want To Lena Dunham It, But I Want To Wear A Top’: Tanya Hennessy Gets Real In The Jungle
She’s racked up millions of views in her viral videos, has a massively engaged audience across social media but ask Tanya Hennessy and she’ll tell you just how not-famous she is.
“People on the internet are the most famous not-famous people ever,” Tanya told 10 daily just hours before heading into the jungle. Despite having almost 2 million followers on Facebook, 119,000 on YouTube and 166,000 on Instagram, she shrugged and said, “I don’t feel like [a success].
“I don’t really have much of an ego,” she added. “Magnum Ego? Yes. Ego? Not so much.”
A cyclone of anxiety, Tanya wasn’t worried about the Tucker Trials she’d be facing with her campmates, in fact when she was reminded that she might have to face some of her biggest fears to win meals she let out a quiet, “Ohhhh. Right.”
For Tanya, the biggest concern was the fact that for the first time in her career she’d have absolutely no control. Rather than writing, starring in, directing and producing her own content, Tanya will be in the hands of the ‘I’m A Celebrity’ gods.
“I’m a creator, part of the creative process is to know what you’re creating and you’ve got power and control,” she said, adding, “I’m not saying I’m like… addicted to power and control.”
“Oh god, why can I see this headline: ‘Tanya Hennessy says she’s addicted to power and control,” she said with a massive laugh.
“When you create, you’re not an actor or on a talk show. You're creating, it’s your vision, our idea” she explained. “This is someone else’s vision and idea of what they think is funny or what they think the best content is on the day.”
“I’m stoked to go in [to the camp] but the paranoia beforehand is terrifying,” she said. “This feeling of ‘how is it going to be edited? Will people like me?’ that’s a huge thought. How weird is that? What if no one finds my sense of humour funny?
“Maybe that’s one of the things I’m scared about. People don’t know me, and maybe I’ll lose myself -- and won’t be able to be myself.”
Still, Tanya said she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see how she’d fare in the jungle, admitting that, “nothing great ever came from a comfort zone”.
“I would rather Australia hate me for who I am than love me for who I’m not.”
“I’m taking -- I’m not even kidding -- a couple of quotes in. One is from ‘Frozen’ and the other is from ‘Frozen 2’,” she said. “The first is ‘let it go’ and the second is ‘into the unknown’ where she just goes in and surrenders. So I’m going to be taking those two quotes from a fictitious character who is also an ice queen.”
While she doesn’t see herself as famous and balks at calling herself a celebrity, one of the biggest driving factors motivating Tanya in the jungle is to just be as real as she can be.
And it’s no exaggeration to say Tanya is as real as it can get. Halfway through the chat she stops mid-sentence, apologises and takes off her eyelashes.
“These are so big,” she said, “I felt like I was doing drag. These are HUGE. I was about to fly away with these lashes.”
One thing Tanya is thrilled about when it comes to her new life in the jungle? Not needing to wear makeup. She’s less thrilled that she’ll probably have to wear pants more than she does at home.
“I don’t think TV shows real people enough,” she said. “So many of my issues came from watching movies and TV shows where all the women looked a particular way, and I didn’t look like those women. I thought I’d never work in the industry, I thought my voice wasn’t good enough.”
It wasn’t until Lena Dunham’s HBO series ‘GIRLS’ did Tanya really begin to see a career for herself on the TV.
“I was, and I am [Dunham’s character] Hannah. I saw myself on television because women are always depicted as bosses or bitches, anchor women or side-pieces. I saw her as a leading woman, but she wasn’t a boss. She was a failure. She was a mess.
“I was like ‘Yes! That’s me! I’m that!’ and the thing is, so many women are. That’s why we need to be represented in the media instead of being shown these perfect people that don’t exist. It’s all a facade.”
Her dreams after the jungle are to -- what she calls -- ‘Lena Dunham it’. “But… I want to wear a top on camera,” she jokes.
Before leaving, Tanya spoke to her boyfriend Tom Pool. Giving up her phone, Instagram and all the comforts of life are one thing.
“Not being able to talk to Tom, who is like everything. I talk to him about everything. Not being able to talk to him every day, I didn’t think it was going to be that hard but…” she said, trailing off.
As for the one piece of advice Tom gave her before she left, “He said ‘don’t embarrass the family’,” she said with a smirk, “I was like… I will".
"I was like, 'You can’t tell me anything! I’m a feminist. How dare you.'”
Tanya flew directly from the United States where she and Tom had just been holidaying and “living on pumpkin pie and hot cocoa”. To prep for the jungle she decided to cut out coffee completely, reducing cravings as much as possible.
“I couldn’t come off sugar,” she admitted sheepishly, “I’ll go in there and offer a pinky. I’ll be like, ‘you can take my pinky for a Mars Bar’.
“I don’t want to lose balance so take a middle toe. The third toe for a Mars Bar.”