‘I Love Celebrating The Flaws In Humanity’: Tanya Hennessy Reflects On Her ‘Imperfect’ Time In The Jungle
Heading into ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’, it wasn’t the tucker trials that worried Tanya Hennessy, it was the lack of control.
“I hated it," she told 10 daily fresh from being released from the camp she called home for the last three weeks. The sixth celeb to be evicted from the jungle the author, content creator and radio host was still processing her time in the jungle.
“You’re being filmed the whole time and it’s like… do I do something? Do I lay down? How much can I reasonably nap in here?”
“You have to let go and surrender and I think sometimes I really did let go, and sometimes I didn’t,” Tanya said. “I’m disappointed that I didn’t, but I’m also not going to be mad at myself because I’m a human being. You can’t be perfect, I don’t want to be perfect.”
In contrast to the work Tanya does creating content for social media, in the jungle she had absolutely no control. Right down to what she wore every day (though she admitted she loved having to wear a uniform) to having no idea what was actually going to air each night.
“I’m a super anxious person and I put myself in what I would arguably call the anxiety Olympics -- aka ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’, she said, adding, “If I can do it, you can do anything.”
“If me putting myself in a vulnerable position on television made you feel better, then thank God I did this show.”
Tanya’s chosen charity, R U OK? is one close to her heart, having been an ambassador for them since 2016, Tanya used her time in the jungle to open up to some of her campmates about her own experiences with anxiety and the stigma around mental health.
As someone who does so much work through social media, she said it was a bit of a shock to realise that -- without her phone -- she felt more connected to those around her.
“Without the phone, it’s just so real, so present and you feel so loved,” she explained, “I was like holy crap, I’m on this phone too much… if I actually connected with people in real life, I might be less depressed.”
It also helped that she was chatting to someone like Miguel Maestre who Tanya described as the perfect listener.
“He’s someone who hears you and then checks-in on you. That’s what R U OK? Is about. It’s about listening, finding a space, not yelling in the middle of a Coles ‘ARE YOU DEPRESSED? ARE YOU OKAY?’.
“That's not what the conversation is, it’s about finding that space and hearing that person.”
Tanya didn’t just bond with Miguel, she also starred in a jungle spin-off of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ learning a full tap routine with leading lady Rhonda Burchmore.
“You have no idea how much I practiced [that performance] over and over again. If I got it wrong she’d make me do it again! I got so puffed during it,” Tanya said, laughing.
But it was her bond with Charlotte Crosby she said that surprised her the most. The pair were similar in age but Charlotte’s reputation as a party girl didn’t quite match Tanya’s reputation as ‘someone who loves a sit’.
Not only did she forge a strong bond with Charlotte but she also became an integral cog in the great machine that created #Rylotte. The jungle romance that’s become the talk of the town.
“Have you heard me talking about the fact that I think I’m psychic?” Tanya said, “I think I’m psychic, so the minute I got in I was like, ‘OMG Ryan and Charlotte are going to be lovers’.
“I felt it immediately and… I knew Ryan wasn’t going to make the first move because he had been on a reality show where he maybe had been rejected, and Charlotte had just come out of a relationship so I was like I’ll just link them together. It was actually kind of fun, it gave me something to do.”
While she was setting up relationships in camp, she was also given a lot of time to consider her own relationships back home. Revealing to Charlotte that she and her partner, Tom Poole, had been trying for a baby.
“I just feel bad for Tom, to be honest,” Tanya said, “It’s true, but whether or not he wanted that broadcast was another story.”
In her characteristic way, Tanya said, “Honestly we could be trying harder, I’m such a starfish… You know what I mean? We probably would have been pregnant ages ago but it’s hard! And I think that’s a good message to tell people as well, sometimes you think it’s going to happen and it doesn’t. And that’s fine.
“I love celebrating the flaws in humanity,” she added, “I don’t want to see some f**kin’ perfect bitch.”
Now free of the jungle, excited to wash her bra and terrified to check her phone, Tanya has a lot on her plate. The day before she left for South Africa she finished her second book which is due to release later this year.
“I’ve got a comedy show coming up in April -- I’m going to do a little bit more live stuff,” she said, pausing.
“To be honest, I’m such a workaholic and the thing I’ve learned in the jungle is to maybe take a step back.”
Fighting back tears, she said, “My pop always says that you should take time to smell the roses and I think I’ve worked so much that I’ve not done that.
“I think the jungle taught me to appreciate the small things in life, your relationships, your friendships. That needs to be a priority for me instead of my work. I'll continue to work hard, because it’s who I am, but maybe just flip that focus and work to live, not live to work.
“That’s what I’ll take away from this,” Tanya said, resolute.
“I’m the luckiest person alive to have someone like Tom by my side. Someone I’ve probably taken for granted. And my parents. My life. I just want to go home and have a really good summer… Stop and smell the roses.”