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Spotlight On: Social media stars and podcast hosts Charleen Murphy and Ellie Kelly

Charleen Murphy and Ellie Kelly are two of Ireland’s biggest influencers right now.

The content creators are the latest cover stars for our Spotlight On feature and in this interview, the close pals open up about surviving relationship breakups and dealing with nasty online comments.

They also revealed whether they’d ever sign up for Love Island, and teased the possibility of their own TV show…

Ellie’s social media career took off while she was working as a makeup artist in Inglot, and she now has a whopping 293K followers on Instagram.

She has also created her own makeup collection with BPerfect Cosmetics, and recently launched her own brand EK Eyewear.

Charleen is best known for sharing beauty and fashion content, and her popularity has exploded in recent years.

She now has an incredible 172K Instagram followers and 137.2K TikTok followers.

Ellie and Charleen met through the influencing industry, and they are now inseparable.

Last year, the pair launched their Hold My Drink podcast – which is now one of the most listened to podcasts in Ireland.

They brought their hit podcast to Dublin’s Vicar Street earlier this month, and are planning to perform more gigs around the country in the coming months.

Check out our exclusive interview with Charleen and Ellie below:

Let’s take it back to the beginning – How did you first meet? 

C: So we met through the industry at an event, but I actually knew Ellie’s brother before I knew her. I met him through a friend I worked with. And Ellie actually dropped her brother to my 21st.

E: I didn’t know Charleen at the time, when I was dropping her in. To think there was a time in my life that I didn’t know her is mad. Now we’re glued at the hip!

C: It’s so nice to have someone in the industry with you who understands it too because if you’re not in it, it can be hard to grasp.

E: Charleen is like my left arm, I don’t go to anything without her. I’ll text a brand and be like, ‘If Charleen isn’t there, I won’t be there.’ We come as a team now, we’re a duo. We’re actually like a couple. We have no one else, so we’re coupled up with each other!

How would you describe your ‘Hold My Drink’ podcast? 

C: We always say it’s like a girls group chat, or like the girls bathroom on a night out where you share your life problems and dilemmas. We like people to switch off for the hour or so each week. To switch off from their own lives and listen to other people’s problems, so they don’t feel alone.

E: We get messages all the time from people saying, ‘I feel like I’m friends with you both after listening to the podcast’, and that means so much to us.

C: It’s usually quite light-hearted, but we do touch on serious topics as well. We want people to feel heard.

You recently did an episode that dealt with suicide, which was very emotional. Why was it important to you to speak about a subject that is considered to be taboo? 

C: I feel like we have a responsibility because we know there are so many people listening to us, and that talking about these things can actually really help someone. If our podcast helps even one person, then it’s so worth it for us. It’s really important to touch on subjects like that because of the platform we have.

E: Myself and Charleen might not relate to every topic we talk about, so with that episode we had our friends Emma and Amanda on to share their experience with losing a loved one to suicide. It’s so important to share these stories, and we learned so much from that episode as well as our listeners.

One of your biggest episodes to date was ‘The Breakup’ episode – were you worried about sharing such a personal part of your life? 

C: Yeah because you open yourself up to people commenting on something so personal and close to your heart. It was scary and vulnerable, but the amount of people coming to us still saying, ‘Thank you so much for sharing, you helped me through my breakup.’ I think we are living proof that you can be ok after a breakup and that everything gets better.

You’ve both said you don’t think you will ever share your future relationships online to the same extent as you did with your last ones – Do you still feel that way and if so, why?

C: I think I will share things, but not to the same extent that I did. After my breakup, I was like, ‘I’m never showing a man on my page again!’ But I think I probably will in the future. I felt like I owed people an explanation after the breakup because I had shared my ex all over my page…

E: Yeah I think I’ll just share the odd hand pic or something, but I will never ever go into the extent I did before because I learned so much from that. People do feel like you owe them an explanation about what is going on in your life and in one hand, I can kind of understand where they’re coming from but on the other hand, I was the one sitting at home dealing with everything. It was my life and my relationship at the end of the day.

C: I want my page to be about me. It’s not a couple page. I want to just keep my private life private.

E: A private life is a happy life.

Charleen, you’ve said a few times now you would love to set Ellie up with Greg O’Shea – is there any update there? Have you been on any dates with him, Ellie? 

E: This man is going to have a restraining order against me! The whole crowd in Vicar Street were chanting, ‘Ellie and Greg! Ellie and Greg!’ The poor fella! My mam and dad support it as well though because he’s a Limerick man and they’re from Limerick. He went to the same school that my dad went to so my mam is always like, ‘Wouldn’t that be lovely? Back to your roots.’ Any time we go down to Limerick she’s like, ‘Aw wouldn’t it be lovely if we bumped into Greg?’ As if he’s just walking around the streets of Limerick… Give the poor fella a rest!

C: I’m taking it very seriously, playing matchmaker!

Charleen, you’re close friends with Lucinda Strafford from Love Island – would you ever sign up for the show yourself? 

C: I would consider it. But the more I think about it I think, do I really want to go down that route? Because once you do Love Island, that’s all you’re really known for. I think I’d rather come up the ranks myself and keep doing what I’m doing. Keep building my following naturally, rather than have a show attached to me. I think I’d find it really hard going on the show and not having your phone, and then dealing with all the comments afterwards… But never say never!

And what about you Ellie?

E: I could never do it. The whole time I’d just be thinking, ‘My mam and dad are watching this, god love them!’ No, I couldn’t. I also feel like I’m too old at this stage, and I don’t know if I have the personality for it. I just don’t see it suiting me well.

You both have massive social media platforms, which comes with both positives and negatives. How do you deal with online trolls? Do you think you just become desensitised to it over time?

E: I don’t think you ever become desensitised to it. We’re always going to feel it, we’re human at the end of the day, it was always affect you in some sort of way. But I think over the years, it changes how you feel about the person sending the messages. It’s not anger I feel towards them anymore, I genuinely feel sorry for them. I feel so sorry that someone, who has never met me before and who knows nothing about my life, feels so entitled to have such a big opinion about me. It shows and says a lot more about them then it does us.

C: It depends on what kind of day I’m having, how I deal with trolls. If I’m having a good day, I don’t care what they say but if I’m having a bad day, it can send me over the edge. But you just learn that not everyone is going to like you no matter what.

Has trolling ever made you want to quit social media completely?

C: I felt that way after my breakup. I just closed myself off to social media because people were being so mean. I was just like, ‘what are you doing sharing my whole life? This is so s***, why are you letting people comment on your life?’ So I pulled away from it for a bit. But then I remembered that I love doing what I do and that the good outweighs the bad.

E: I think we’ve both gone through phases, doing what we do in our career, of coming offline for a while. You’re allowed to have that time to step away from it all, recharge and focus on yourself. I think everyone who does what we do needs that switch off time every now and again.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about you both? 

C: I think a lot of the misconceptions we’ve kind of squashed through our podcast. Before that, people just saw our pictures on Instagram and thought we were vain. People meet us and are like, ‘Oh, you’re actually nice.’ And I’m like, ‘Actually?’

E: Yeah or people are like, ‘I thought you were a bitch,’ and I’m like, ‘Why? Just because of a picture you’ve seen online?’ So I think the podcast has showed our real personalities and a different side of us.

C: We’re normal people. We go through the same things everyone else goes through. When you follow someone online, even a celebrity, you forget they’re actually a real person and have problems as well. So the podcast has really helped show that.

A lot of Irish influencers move abroad to further their careers – is that something you have considered doing? 

E: I couldn’t leave my mammy and my daddy, god no! If I could buy a house next door to them, I would. My poor mam is probably sick of me and wants to boot me away as far as way as she can. But I tried the whole moving away craic and it just was not for me.

C: I don’t know if I would. I like the UK…

E: We actually talked about moving to Manchester. We had an event in Manchester, but then we got very drunk and during our hungover the next day decided we never wanted to go back there again… We have talked about living together, and I’m hoping that by this time next year I’ll have my own house. I always tell Charleen that she’s getting the first key cut when that happens. It will be Ellie and Charleen’s house.

How is the house hunting going Ellie? 

E: I’ve gone to a few viewings with my mam, and she has to bring me back to earth with it and remind me not to be so picky. Where we are now with the housing crisis, you can’t afford to be that picky. This house probably won’t be my forever home, it will just be my first house. But I still am quite picky. I want a south-facing garden and a side gate and all that… Once I have a back garden for my dog Bobby, I’ll be fine.

Ellie, you have launched your own eyewear brand and have collaborated with BPerfect on your own makeup collection – do you have any plans to launch another brand in the future and if so, what do you think it would be? 

E: When I launched EK Eyewear, I wanted the name to have something to do with my own name in case I wanted to dip into something else with ‘EK’ in the title. I definitely want to keep going with EK Eyewear. We’re hoping to do a second launch soon. I’ve thought about bringing out my own makeup range, but I’m also not sure if there’s anything new I can bring to the industry. So many Irish influencers have amazing makeup brands out there, so what else am I able to add? So I’m not sure, but definitely another EK Eyewear drop is in the works.

Charleen, your platform has grown massively over the past couple of years. Would you like to launch your own brand also? Maybe something in fashion? 

C: Yeah if I did decide to do something, it would definitely be fashion related. That’s what I’ve always wanted, so to have my name on something would be a goal. Hopefully soon!

Ellie, you’ve said before that if you weren’t doing what you were doing you would love to get into radio presenting. Do you think you will give that a go at some stage, especially given the success of your podcast? 

E: The podcast has definitely given me more confidence in my ability to do radio. I did study radio in college, even though I didn’t finish it… I couldn’t hack it back then, I was too scared, whereas now I’ll speak in front of anyone. If the opportunity came and a radio presenting job was there, I would jump at it.

Another route influencers sometimes go down is in TV presenting. Would either of you be interested in doing that? 

E: We would love that. We’d be like Paris [Hilton] and Nicole [Ritchie] I think!

C: There’s so many opportunities and avenues you can go down with this job, it’s amazing.

Ellie Kelly and Charleen Murphy pictured at their award winning Hold My Drink Podcast Live Show at Vicar Street, Dublin.
Picture: Brian McEvoy

You’ve just performed two gigs at the iconic Dublin venue Vicar Street with your podcast  – what was that experience like? Have you any plans for more gigs in the coming months? 

C: We would love to do a Christmas special if we can organise it on time. But if not, I think it’ll be January when we’re back gigging. We want to go outside of Dublin too. Hold My Drink On Tour!

E: We’ll get a tour bus with our faces plastered on the side of it.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger selves? 

E: You will be ok. I look at my younger self and I just want to hug her. She looked like Snow White and she was so cute but so sad. I just want to tell her, ‘You will be ok. You always will.’

C: I think I’d tell my younger self just to be more confident and not give a f*** about what people think or say. The older you get, the more you’re like: ‘I don’t care. I’m living my life, they’re living theirs.’ I wish I knew that before.

E: We told the audience during one of the live shows something that was said to me that really stuck with me: ‘No one gives a f*** about you.’ Life is so short and the world is such a big place, so just do what you want to do. Do the job you want to do, be the person you want to be, because we only have a short amount of time on this earth.

Where do you see yourselves five years from now? 

C: In five years, I’d like to have a house, and maybe a child…

E: Really? I don’t see myself with kids…

C: Yeah I think so! Hopefully I’ll have a fella too – that would be a bonus! And I just hope I’m happy in what I’m doing.

E: I’d love to have a TV show, or to be on one. Something to do with television definitely. I want the podcast to keep growing, and to take it around Ireland. In five years time I’m going to be 32… God!

When I was younger, I thought by 27 I’d have a house, a child, that my whole life would be figured out. But no, the plan got thrown in the air and I don’t know where it’s gone now. But at the same time, I’m so grateful about what I have achieved. I never thought I’d be able to have a job like this. We really appreciate do the position we are both in.


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