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‘You can have it all, just not at same time,’ Brooke Vincent on maternity leave & why she ‘never wanted to leave’ Corrie

THERE’S little doubt that Brooke Vincent loves being a mum to her two boys.

Since leaving Coronation Street while pregnant with her eldest in 2019 – after 15 years on the soap – she’s been based at home and has made no plans to return.

MARK HAYMAN
Brooke Vincent left Coronation Street after 15 years on the soap[/caption]
Editorial use only..Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/Shutterstock (10740753e)..Sally Webster, as played by Sally Dynevor celebrates her 40th birthday with family - Kevin Webster, as played by Michael Le Vell, Rosie Webster, as played by Helen Flanagan and Sophie Webster, as played by Brooke Vincent and friends at a karaoke night in the Rovers...'Coronation Street Icons: Sally Metcalf' TV Show, Series 1, Episode 2, UK..Coronation Street Icons: Sally Metcalfe, is a British ITV documentary series (Broadcast on Wed 26th Aug 2020) which looks through the archives from the ground breaking television drama which began in 1960, at the character of Sally Metcalfe, as played by Sally Dynevor. She reveals how she nearly messed up her role on her very first day. She talks about her on screen daughters Rosie and Sophie, and how a hard-hitting breast cancer storyline coincided with her own battle with the illness.
Brooke as Sophie Webster with her Corrie family
ITV/Shutterstock
Instagram/Brooke Vincent
The soap star with retired footballer fiancé Kean Bryan, 27, and their two boys[/caption]

But motherhood has also stirred up a lot of questions around the concept of women “having it all”, and she wonders now if she should have been “braver” and quit her role as Sophie Webster, who she’d played since the age of 11, long before she actually did. 

It’s why she’s been urging her younger cousin Ellie Leach, who played Corrie’s Faye Windass for 12 years, before leaving last summer and going on to win Strictly Come Dancing, to grab any opportunities while she can.

“I was never brave enough to leave [Corrie] before. So I say to my Ellie – and any young girls with dreams – these are the times to go out there and do it.

“I tell her that I wasn’t ever as brave as she is and that she needs to embrace it, because as soon as you have kids, it just makes it a little bit harder,” says Brooke, who is mum to Mexx, four, and Monroe, three, with her recently retired footballer fiancé Kean Bryan, 27. 

“I’m not saying you can’t do it once you’re a mum, but when you only have to think about yourself and you’re not trying to keep all the plates spinning, it’s easier.

“I’ve had four years off with my boys and I know I’m really lucky, because a lot of women don’t get that time.

“One thing I’ve learned is that, as a mum, you can have everything, you just can’t have it all at the same time, because you will end up burning yourself into the ground.”

She adds: “I love the bones of Ellie, she’s like my little muse and I will always be the person who pushes her out of her comfort zone, because it means so much to me to see her blossom.”

After five years of maternity leave, Brooke, 31, is currently relishing the new challenge of a 14-week nationwide theatre tour with the late Kay Mellor’s comedy-drama The Syndicate, her first acting job since having the boys. 

Understandably, there has been an awful lot to think about, and among the many emotions was the fear that her skills, honed on the cobbles of Coronation Street, would be a little rusty after such an extended break.

“I think when you step away from something for so long, you’re going to feel that,” she says. “It’s like learning to trust in yourself again.

“When it comes to your career, it’s hard to know what to do for the best. Do you want to be the stay-at-home mum?

“And would that mean that you’d always wonder about what you could have done?

‘Starting afresh’

“That’s kind of where I am and what I’m trying to figure out. This is a new stage and I don’t know if I’m doing a very good job of working it out, but I’m giving it a good old go.”

It’s a struggle many working mums will relate to. Although, despite her worries, Brooke is managing with impressive ease and rediscovering the identity she feels she lost amid the chaos and commotion of early motherhood.

But she reckons it was “100% the right time” to come back to work.

“This is a new chapter for me as a working mum. It’s like starting afresh. I’d always wanted to be a mum and when the kids came along, they were my whole purpose.

“I loved it, but you do put yourself on the back burner – I’d even forgotten what TV I liked. Even now, I automatically go to [children’s channel] 604.

“So it’s nice to feel like myself again… until I get on a train home where I’ll probably have to sort out an argument about socks!”  

Until March, Brooke had been covering Gemma Atkinson’s maternity leave on Manchester-based Hits Radio’s 4pm-7pm drivetime show, a gig that slotted in around family life.

Touring the country for the next few months is a different ball game, and although she and Kean thought about hitting the road as a family, in the end they decided against it.

This is a new chapter for me as a working mum

Brooke Vincent

Mexx and Monroe will mostly be staying at home in Manchester with Kean, and Brooke will return whenever she can.

“The boys understand that we go to work to get pennies so that we can do nice things as a family and that they can have their football and karate lessons and we can go on holidays.

“And I will shout to the high heavens about how good my partner is with our boys, because that has been a big thing for me coming back to work.

“If I didn’t have that support at home, I’d never have been able to do something as demanding as this.”

There has been a period of readjustment, too, for former Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion defender Kean, who was forced to retire early last November due to an ongoing knee injury.

Building a life away from football isn’t always easy for ex-players, but Brooke says Kean is working hard to find new outlets.

“He’s doing really well and I’m so proud of him, because it’s really daunting when a career comes to an end. Football had been his whole life.

“But some people do a job for 30 years and then decide to retrain in something else, so he’s been doing different things that tie into football, like commentating. 

MARK HAYMAN
Brooke, 31, went on maternity leave for five years and is currently relishing the new challenge of a 14-week nationwide theatre tour[/caption]
Corries , Ellie Leach 21st birthday party at the Ethiad stadium Manchester on Sat 12th March . Cousins , Brooke Vincent and Ellie Leech
The actress with her ex-Corrie co-star and cousin Ellie Leach
Instagram/Brooke Vincent

“He’s also put some money into a gym near us, which he loves being involved with, because it’s good for his mental and physical health.

“It’s something that he can put his focus into away from me and the boys. He’s actually adapting so well and taking back control of his life.”

‘Married as a family’

Brooke and Kean have been together since 2016, after meeting through mutual friends. They announced their engagement two years ago, but there are still no firm wedding plans in place.

“We laugh all the time – sometimes I think let’s just do it at a registry office. But then I remember that hardly anyone would get to see me in my dress! I’m not wasting that opportunity.

“The thing is, when Kean was playing football, we never really had stability, because every season we were prepared for the fact we might have to move.

“When we do it, we’ll get married as a family. We know we’re together – a ring and a wedding ceremony wouldn’t really make much of a difference.

“There’s nothing more I’ll learn about him by him being my husband and the father to my children. He’s not going anywhere and neither am I.”

We know we’re together – a ring and a wedding ceremony wouldn’t really make much of a difference

Brooke Vincent

With two small children, any time as a couple is precious and so they grab it where they can.

When Brooke travelled down to London for her Fabulous cover shoot, she brought Kean with her just so they could have some time to chat during the journey there and back.

“Our date was on the train!” she says. “It was so nice to be sat just me and him without one of us having to appease the kids.

“But, you know, we’re quite boring. All we want to do is go to Nando’s, and it’s all about the kids at the minute, so our reality is just about getting on with it.”

At work, Brooke’s The Syndicate co-stars and fellow mums, Samantha Giles and Gaynor Faye – daughter of Kay Mellor, who wrote the show – have been a huge support as she gets to grips with this new phase.

Kay wrote the play shortly before she died in May 2022, and it’s adapted from her acclaimed BBC series of the same name, telling the stories of a group of supermarket workers whose lottery syndicate numbers come up, just as they are about to be made redundant.

Brooke plays Amy (“She’s the person you’d want to play – the one with an edge and who says what no one else would dare.”), while Gaynor’s real-life son (and Kay’s grandson) Oliver Anthony takes the part of Jamie, replacing Max George, who pulled out due to health reasons.

“With the history behind the play and now the three-generational element to it, it couldn’t feel more perfect,” says Brooke.

“The best way to describe theatre is that it makes you feel alive. It’s a buzz, an adrenalin rush which, as actors, is what we live for.”

Could a return to Corrie be on the cards one day?

“Corrie was my home – it still is my home – and I feel like I’ve just gone off to university to do my little thing for a while!

“I never wanted to leave, because I panic about saying goodbye. It’s been a massive part of my life and the people that I worked with are like a family.

“So although I’m not [talking about] a comeback, I don’t want them to ring and say: ‘We’re killing you off!’ either. That would be devastating!”

The best way to describe theatre is that it makes you feel alive

Brooke Vincent

Other work-related “bits and bobs” are lined up for later in the year for Brooke, who also owns successful stationery business, Oh So B.

She’s currently starring in ITV reality show Drama Queens, which follows the day-to-day lives of actresses from Corrie, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.

“When they were filming, I was literally up the wall with plans, so I probably come across as an erratic, overstimulated mum!

“But it’s been fun and really nice for what goes on behind closed doors to be documented, because some people think that when you’ve got a job in the public eye, you’re immune to the chaos and the stress of it all. But you’re not.”

She’s reluctant to reveal her big ambitions out loud, but performing again has reignited something inside of her and she’s definitely eager for more.

“I almost don’t want to tell people my dreams in case I sound silly! But I’m doing this whole manifestation thing and I keep trusting that it will come.

“I’ve done this since I was 11, so it’s all I know and it’s what I love. Performing gives me so much joy, and whether it’s at one of the incredible theatres we’re touring or it’s a little school performance, I don’t care! 

“I’m just so excited to be back in it now and giving my energy to something new.” 

  • The Syndicate is touring until July 27 (Syndicatetheplay.co.uk). Watch Drama Queens, Wednesdays, 9pm, ITVBe & ITVX.
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: Brooke Vincent and guest arrive at the Pride Of Britain Awards 2023 at Grosvenor House on October 08, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Brooke and Kean have been together since 2016, after meeting through mutual friends
Karwai Tang/WireImage
MARK HAYMAN
Brooke says: ‘I almost don’t want to tell people my dreams in case I sound silly!’[/caption]
She’s currently starring in ITV reality show Drama Queens

In the make-up chair with Brooke

Do you have any skincare heroes? 

I love Elemis and Tropic products. My skin always feels great after a facial with one of them.

Favourite luxury product?

Naturium body cleansers are lovely on the skin.

Any beauty bargains?

3Wishes is a local company to me and it does amazing little bits! The lip oils are amazing.

What are your make-up bag essentials?

Brows By Sarah’s brow gel and pencil, La Mer’s lip balm, and Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturiser.

Best beauty hack?

I’m very low-maintenance, but I had my brows tattooed and my lips blushed so that, day-to-day, I still have definition in those areas.

Who’s your celeb beauty icon?

Amy Winehouse for her winged eyeliner, and Brigitte Bardot for her natural beauty and style.

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