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dancing on Jennifer Zamparelli says she would 'never say never' to having more kids

'If you have plans to go out you’re guaranteed one of them will get sick or not go asleep so I am well able to pivot'

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Jennifer Zamparelli

Jennifer Zamparelli

Jennifer Zamparelli

Jennifer Zamparelli is munching on a handful of popcorn while perched precariously on a velvet recliner on set of our shoot at The Stella Theatre — looking every inch a small screen siren.

This is probably the best shoot I’ve ever been on,” laughs the notoriously straight-talking 41-year-old as she cradles a box of popcorn on her lap.

Effortlessly glamorous, gracious and marvellously quick-witted, the Dubliner who shares two children, Florence, 6, and Enzo, 3, with her husband Lau, commands every shot, and without much effort, has the entire crew eating out of the palm of her hand.

It’s Christmas week, there are lists to be made and presents to be bought, but the say-it-like-it-is 2fm radio presenter is unflappable.

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Jennifer Zamparelli with husband Lau and children Enzo and Florence

Jennifer Zamparelli with husband Lau and children Enzo and Florence

Jennifer Zamparelli with husband Lau and children Enzo and Florence

“I’m much better at living in the moment. Much, much better. I think that came with having kids.

"You know, because when you have kids you can’t make plans, they’re like COVID, they wreck all your plans.

"If you have plans to go out you’re guaranteed one of them will get sick or not go asleep so I am well able to pivot.”

Jen has just returned from an enchanting and romantic sojourn to Paris — a belated 40th present that was thwarted by the pandemic.

“Apart from the shitty hotel we stayed in, it was bliss,” she laughs.

“It’s the only time we’ve ever been away alone. I mean, we were nearly writing our will on the plane because we had never been away together without the kids.

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Jennifer strikes a pose at the Stella Cinema in a Ganni Tropical Wave dress, €65 (three-day rental), greensaregoodforyou.com

Jennifer strikes a pose at the Stella Cinema in a Ganni Tropical Wave dress, €65 (three-day rental), greensaregoodforyou.com

Jennifer strikes a pose at the Stella Cinema in a Ganni Tropical Wave dress, €65 (three-day rental), greensaregoodforyou.com

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“I was having weird separation anxiety.

"I had a dream Enzo went missing on my first night. But then I got into it and like it’s not like we were going around talking about our kids all day.

"I don’t think we talked about them once, I was too busy giving out about the hotel he booked.

"I mean, we didn’t pine after them, but it was just weird being away from them. We needed that break away.”

Preparing to sequin up, the TV star is relishing the opportunity to sashay back into her role helming RTÉ juggernaut, Dancing With The Stars alongside co-host Nicky Byrne.

“I’m really excited about the line-up and just getting back into it. It’s a new studio, that will feel different but there’s a lot of nice changes and changes to keep the show moving forward.

"I mean, BBC Strictly always make little changes and you kind of have to just roll with it and it just keeps it fresh,” says the broadcaster of the major reshuffle which see’s new pro dancers and star judge Arthur Gourounlian joining the show’s ranks.

“I mean as long as they don’t change me then it’s okay,” she quips good-humouredly.

“They had Amanda originally, and she did such a good job. So, you know, change can work.

"I know Julian will be will really be missed this year.

"But I think Arthur as we were saying on the shoot, he’s such a joy to be around. He’s going to be an amazing judge.”

Heading into her third year of DWTS is still somewhat of a pinch me moment for the entertainer after it was shelved last year due to Covid-19.

“I’m really grateful for my job and the kinds of job that I do. I mean, I feel pretty privileged to be able to sit on my arse and talk for three hours and get paid for it.

"I used to be a waitress I used to do door to door sales. I’ve worked shitty jobs so I feel very fortunate. And it sounds cliche, but I’m not afraid of hard work.

“I would hate for people to think otherwise. It’s so important to be nice and do your best to be sound.

"You know, I never want to get a reputation of being a bit of an arsehole to work with, that would be my worst nightmare.”

Settling into her fourth decade, the former Apprentice star says she’s never felt more at ease in her own skin.

“I feel more confident in my 40s than I did in my 20s.

"I work very hard and bust my ass in the gym but I love every minute of it and it’s really for my mental health.

"I want to be strong and fit in my 40s it is not about weight at all, it is about feeling good and being able to run around with my kids and having energy and a strong immune system.”

On the subject of kids, Jen admits that she hasn’t quite closed the chapter on motherhood.

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Jennifer in a Lia Cowan Design top, €75 (three-day rental), greensaregoodforyou.com, skirt, €1,000, liacowan.com

Jennifer in a Lia Cowan Design top, €75 (three-day rental), greensaregoodforyou.com, skirt, €1,000, liacowan.com

Jennifer in a Lia Cowan Design top, €75 (three-day rental), greensaregoodforyou.com, skirt, €1,000, liacowan.com

Speaking of the decision to have her tubes tied after the birth of her youngest child, she reveals:

“I completely regretted that for a long time. I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind.

"When I made the decision. I had two really difficult pregnancies; I was so sick.

"And like in my head I was like, ‘jaysus, never again’. It’s like asking someone do they want a pint when they’re having the worst hangover of their life?

"Give them 24 hours and they’re like, ‘pass me the drink.’ It was a hasty decision I mean, because I would have loved more.

"But Lau really didn’t want to have anymore kids. So probably in the long run it is the best decision. I mean, who knows, I might adopt, I might foster. I never say never.

"I would like more kids somehow, and I would like to help.

"Lau’s aunty fosters kids and I just think it’s such a phenomenal thing to do. I had a woman on my show she’s been fostering kids and babies all the way through the pandemic.

"When everybody was closing their doors, she was opening her doors. And I just think it’s such an amazing thing to do.

"So I could go down that route, or just get a new husband, who knows?”

Regardless of what Jen decides, motherhood has been one of her most rewarding adventures to date.

“I’ve never felt fear like it. You have to keep them alive for a very long time.

"The instant fear you get when you have a child in your arms and you think I can’t fuck this up.

It’s like babysitting but the parents are just never coming back. It is so rewarding and they are great craic too.”

It was her children and the encouragement of her adoring husband that pushed her to seek help when she began experiencing debilitating anxiety and panic attacks when she turned 40.

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Jennifer with her DWTS co-host Nicky Byrne.

Jennifer with her DWTS co-host Nicky Byrne.

Jennifer with her DWTS co-host Nicky Byrne.

“I just could not catch my breath. It was on air and it was just like every day and it was constant.

"It wasn’t when I exercised. It wasn’t when I was asleep so it wasn’t a physical thing. It was definitely a mental thing.

“I just wasn’t feeling good, I was panicky about COVID and anxious. I remember being at the school gate and somebody coming up to me and said, ‘I remember turning 40 and I can totally relate and I thought I was going bananas.

"Thank you so much for talking about it.’

“Women put things off and we have a habit of hiding things and looking after everybody else first.

“If you are going through any kind of anxiety, I would get that nipped in the bud straight away because it doesn’t go away by itself. We have to look after ourselves.”

PHOTOGRAPHER: Frank McGrath

STYLIST: Denise Smith @deneezsmith

MAKE UP : Hazel Ward @Hazdelwardmua

HAIR: Chloe Cleary: Pelo Hairdressing

LOCATION: Stella Cinema, Rathmines

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