Michelle Keegan has opened up about how it felt to be voted “sexiest female” 12 times.
The 36-year-old actor, who started out her career playing Rovers Return barmaid Tina in ITV soap Coronation Street, won the accolade a dozen times at the British Soap Awards and Inside Soap Awards between 2008 and 2014.
This was despite her character Tina having hardcore storylines about abortion, murder, surrogacy and perjury across her time on the show.
Speaking in a new interview in The Observer, Keegan said: “It was embarrassing. Because I was in a lot of heavy storylines. There was one where I felt like I was crying every day for months and months. And then at the end of it, when the accolade was sexiest female, it was so frustrating.”
She added: “And the funny thing is, I’m not sexy! I’ve never been sexy! My friends have always laughed about it. Even when I say the word it makes me cringe.”
Keegan said she was “never comfortable” with the accolade.
On the subject of sexy magazine shoots, she said: “Yes, I felt pressure and I am a bit of a people pleaser, I try to go with the flow. But there was something in me that was like, ‘I really don’t want this. I don’t want to be on the front cover in my underwear.’ So, eventually, I gathered the courage… to ask for a cardigan.”
In a 2019 interview with The Independent, Keegan spoke about her experience of the media more generally.
She said that “women are more affected” by tabloid scrutiny than men. “It’s like, as soon as you get married, ‘When are you having a child?’ My husband [reality star Mark Wright] never gets asked that question.
“I think it’s really invasive, for a start, and I used to answer that question all the time, but then I think to myself, well, why do I need to answer that question? It’s no one’s business.
“And I think now, even now, I’m still learning how to deal with things like that. I used to blab and go on about it, whereas now I’m like, ‘I don’t want to answer questions like that, it’s personal.’”
Keegan, who has also starred in Our Girl and Brassic, can next be seen in the new Harlan Coben drama, Fool Me Once, out on Netflix on New Year’s Day.