She broke the ice with her dance partner by taking him for a drink and, since then, the weeks have been a blizzard of tango, samba and waltzes. She’s found all the other stars on Instagram. And as the youngest member of the new cast, she’s looking to fly the flag for youth.
She’s keeping her lacquered talons, she laughingly explains, despite concerns that she might stab her dance partner to death, and she’s particularly excited about the glitz and glam of the wardrobe changes. And she’s very much in it to win; there is some family pride at stake.
“The fact that I do have a little bit of rhythm, I think, helps. I’m picking up steps quicker than I thought I was going to. I’m a competitive person by nature, so I want to win. Got to make Dad [Boyzone star Ronan Keating] and Mom [model and television personality Yvonne Connolly] proud.”
One might presume that the pandemic has been a particular hell for a 20-year-old on the cusp of life but Missy doesn’t make it sound like lockdown particularly cramped her style. “You know what? I had the best year of my life in 2021.
"I moved to London, then to Dublin, and back again, [while] single. And took time to just be me, and focus on myself. It was a lot of fun, a hot-girl summer as they say, and me and my friends in London just lived our best life.”
As Britain was a bit ahead of Ireland in terms of opening up, she took full advantage. “I went out and we met guys, and the London dating life — no complaints there, and it was awesome. Now, it’s the winter period and I’m like, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t mind a boyfriend now.’
"But right now I’m actually just really enjoying being my own person and being me. Going out is different when you’re single: you can meet so many people and just be completely yourself. You don’t have to worry about the other person.”
During the last few years in London, she lived with dad Ronan and his partner, Storm, before branching out on her own. She got a house share in Putney and a part-time job. And lest you wonder why Ronan Keating’s daughter would have to work in a coffee shop, she clarifies: “It was his coffee shop! That’s how I got the job.”
Not that she’s spoiled. When she eventually moved back in with Storm and Ronan, “they were just blown away by how much I’d changed. I think when I was younger, I was a bit of a handful.” In what way?
“Oh, just being a teenage girl. Now we [she and Ronan and Storm] just hang out. We’ll all come home and we’ll open a bottle of wine and sit around the table and chat.
"Me and Storm stayed up till 1.30am the other night chatting, just about nonsense, but we have that relationship where we all just get along so well and we love spending time with each other.”
Missy Keating still remembers the first time it dawned on her that her dad was Irish pop royalty. It was her eighth birthday and Boyzone were onstage in Glasgow. Ronan pulled her from the wings on to the stage and the whole arena sang happy birthday to her.
“I was like, ‘Whoa, what the hell?’ she recalls. “And that for me was probably the moment where I went, ‘Well, this is big. You guys are big.’”
She was always his “number-one fan”, even if she did get slagged at school, mainly from “mean girls saying ‘life is a rollercoaster’ and things like that”, she recalls. The bullies’ lack of originality may have been the most distressing part. “I was brought up with thick skin and learned how to handle it all at quite a young age.”
Missy and her siblings — Jack, now 22, and 15-year-old Ali — grew up mainly in Malahide. In the summer holidays, they would travel on tour with her parents. She was 10 when they split (finally divorcing in 2015) and many of the details played out in the press. Unsurprisingly, Missy is quite protective of her parents.
“Firstly, I would say they dealt with it [the split] really well. We have always felt so supported by Mom and Dad from the get-go and still, to this day, they’re my biggest supporters. At the time, it was just about comforting us and making sure we were OK, and constantly checking in with us.”
But divorce is tough on kids in any
family and she adds, “Of course it was
sad. I was sad. Everything changed. It was just getting used to that but, in a way, because they always comforted us and made sure we were OK and we would still all be in the same house at the beginning and we would hang out and stuff... it was never just [a case of] ‘There you go, cut all ties, see you later.’ I actually look at it now and think everyone’s happier now. My dad has found an amazing love. My mom has found an amazing love. They are both happier — you can see that.”
As a child, Missy had parts in a number of movies, including
, an Irish-Swedish supernatural horror on which Yvonne’s partner, John Conroy, was the cinematographer, and
, an adaptation of John Banville’s Booker-winning novel of the same name.
After filming was completed, she flew to Australia and it was there, in her favourite restaurant, that she met her father’s new partner (and now wife) Storm for the first time.
“We hit it off straight away. She’s so beautiful inside and out. We had a connection from day one and she is like my sister more than anything — I don’t see her as my stepmom. She gives me amazing advice. She constantly looks out for me. If I need advice, we’ll sit up and talk for hours.”
After her Junior Cert, Missy’s love of acting faded somewhat and her passions became music and modelling. Academics never interested her.
“I was never a very good school student, let’s just say that. I always knew that [for] what I wanted to do, I wasn’t going to need my Leaving Cert. My mom pushed to make sure that I did it, which is fine. I didn’t mind that but I always knew in the back of my head, ‘I don’t need this.’ I knew my dad left school at 16 and I was like, ‘He’s all right.’”
Three years ago, she and her friend Georgia Gaffney auditioned for
in the UK, performing as GGMK (their initials). In the end, they didn’t get through, but she had no regrets.
“We were just enjoying it and she [Georgia] is my best friend, so we just laughed and enjoyed the experience. I don’t regret it at all. It was such a fun time for us.”
It’s clear that Missy has inherited the best of both her parents’ looks, and it was no surprise when her mother, Yvonne, helped her start her modelling career.
“Literally, I get it all from her — my whole modelling career came from her modelling career. She introduced me to Jules Fallon [who also reps Amanda Byram and Darren Kennedy]. She’s my agent. Back in the day, my mom and her would’ve known each other well through the modelling industry.”
How to pose properly came by osmosis from observing Yvonne. “I used to watch her, when she would do photos with photographers, and I would always watch how she’d place her face. And then I would see the photo and I’d be like, ‘Oh my God, she looks amazing.’
"And then, I remember, one of my first shoots, I did it — I did that face. It’s the open ‘laughy’ smile and they were like, ‘Hold that.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, Mom’s tricks work.’”
Missy has 38k Instagram followers, has been signed to 1st Option modelling agency in Dublin and recently took part in a photoshoot for PrettyLittleThing, one of a number of brands she works with.
Along with Fallon, Yvonne also keeps a watchful eye on Missy’s career. “My mom really helped me with that whole thing, and she gave me so many tips and what to look out for, what to stay away from, what kind of jobs to do.
“One of the big lessons she taught me at a young age was: ‘Be nice to the people on the way up; you might meet them on the way down.’ My mom always said, ‘You’re going to come across assholes and bad people, but just keep a smile on your face, kill them with kindness because you never know...’ That is something I still keep in my head.”
She’ll never have “the stick-thin” body, she says, and is relieved that she’s never dealt with pushy industry people, but she’s heard the horror stories from others.
“One of my friends is an e-comm model, which means shooting for websites. She is tiny but she’s told me she’s been told to lose weight by her agency. People say, ‘Oh, the industry’s changed,’ and there are plus-sized models now, of course, but there is still pressure about weight.”
Her first club night back after lockdown was Cuckoo, in London, where she also celebrated her 18th birthday.
“And it was just amazing. It was just seeing people, and people were close to each other, but nobody cared. No one had a mask on and [they were] just enjoying the moment as it was.” She also got to go to Reading Festival last August. “That was so special. I grew up with live music — nothing beats it.”
Her friends have tried to get her into using dating apps. “My friend Abby had one called Raya in London. It’s apparently this top-quality dating app, so she was like, ‘Oh my God, you have to get it.’
"And she downloaded it on my phone and I never made a profile. I’m too scared to do that. Instagram’s enough for me. Instagram is where it’s at — the DMs.”
She’s looking forward to giving it her all on
and she hopes it sets the right tone for a great 2022. “I’m a very competitive person, just with myself. I get really annoyed in rehearsals if I can’t get it right.
"And I will just work and work and work until I can get it perfect. I want to listen and take it in and do that and be the best version of myself I can be. It’s going to be fun and I know it’ll be a great way to start the year.”
‘Dancing with the Stars’ returns to RTÉ One on Sunday, January 9