I’m the 25th most influential person in the world and I don’t even know what the word means
The early 2000s saw the dawn of a new kind of TV – the reality show. With it, emerged a wave of celebrities, famous for simply being themselves.
Jade Goody became a media sensation during her appearance in the 2002 series of spy-on-the-wall show Big Brother.
Relentlessly tormented by the media for her lack of general knowledge, public opinion began to turn when newspaper headlines became cruel. There was a wave of sympathy and people began to warm to Jade.
Jade made the most of the opportunities fame brought her after leaving the Big Brother House, even launching her own beauty salon, perfume and putting her name to books.
In 2008, Jade returned to the Big Brother house, this time in the celebrity version of the show. But Jade created an international scandal when she was accused of racism against a fellow contestant, the Indian actress Shilpa Shetty. The resulting media furore threatened to engulf her.
Jade humbly apologized and she and Shilpa were reunited when Jade travelled to Mumbai to feature in India’s version of Big Brother. During her time in the house her doctor called her on live TV, and told her that she had been diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer.
It was a shocking and devastating moment and public opinion of Jade turned and warmed to her again, as she threw herself into work and making personal appearances to safeguard a financial future for her two young sons.
“I could bitch about dying young, but at the end of the day, I can look back on my life and be proud of what I have done,” she said.
Her tragically young death led to a dramatic surge in young women volunteering for cervical cancer screening. As someone who made the very most of the opportunity reality TV gave her to change her life, Jade left a legacy that may have saved many lives.