Celebrity author and agent Melanie Blake talks to Me and My MONEY

Author and celebrity agent Melanie Blake never washes her own hair. Instead, she spends £ 150 each week on a barber to come to her home and do it for her.

Blake, who grew up in poverty, earned millions of pounds as a celebrity agent before writing the hit novel Ruthless Women.

Her latest book, Guilty Women, is out on Thursday. Blake, 42, is single with Donna Ferguson.

Stars in their eyes: Melanie Blake became a celebrity agent at 23 years old

What did your parents teach you about money?

That I did not want to live like them in poverty. My dad was a printer who gave all his money to a fanatical Christian cult. My mom was a cleaner. I grew up, wore clothes to charity shops, received food from food banks, lived on benefits and free school meals. I desperately wanted to run away. I found myself homeless at 16 because I could no longer live in the family home – it was too stressful with all my parents ’religious things.

I moved to a squat in Manchester and got a few jobs, all the while saving to realize my dream of going to London and making my way into show business. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I was planning to make a lot of money, which I did.

Have you ever had a hard time making ends meet?

No. Ever since I left home and came to London at 17, I haven’t felt any difficulty because home has been so awful. I had £ 1,500 – the money I had saved by working for 12 years – that seemed to me £ 1 million. This supported me when I applied for a job at every single TV company I could find.

I spent a year and a half doing advertising work, handing out drinks at events and being at a touching distance from celebrities. But I was not on the other side of the rope. When my savings ran out, I got a job as a camera assistant at Top Of The Pops. There I made friends with various pop stars and actresses. I also started working as an extra on TV soaps.

How did you earn a fortune?

I met Claire Richards from the pop band Steps and Claire King from the Emmerdale series. They both liked my thoughts on what can be done to make their careers even better. They decided to make me their leader at the same time. My life changed overnight. At 23, I went from holding studio camera cables to becoming a celebrity agent. For the first week in business I secured my clients contracts for £ 100,000.

Then many celebrity agents just sat waiting for phone calls. They didn’t go out and find work for their clients. I took a different approach, and by the end of my second year in business I had made a profit of £ 1.5 million. When I closed my agency to focus on the work of the author, we earned £ 30 million and I personally earned £ 6 million.

Have you ever been paid stupid money?

Yes. In seven weeks I have written the bunkbuster “Ruthless Women” and so far I have earned half a million pounds on this book.

What year was the best in your financial life?

It was 2011. I earned £ 800,000 as an agent. I cared for the participants of the TV show Loose Women and the leading actresses from every TV soap. I worked long hours and I had absolutely no life. I gave it my all.

Then my mom was diagnosed with cancer and she died quickly. It changed my mind, I didn’t want to work like that again.

What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?

Five jewelery items from the Jackie Collins estate are worth £ 100,000. One of them is a 50-carat diamond pendant made of manganese, which she wore when she wrote the novel “Lady Boss” in 1990. I read all of Jackie Collins ’books when I was a teenager and she inspired me. I liked that her heroines did not marry for money, they were all independent women. I met rich men when I was younger, and I was offered to take care of me all my life, but I always thought not. I want my wealth to be my own.

What is your biggest money mistake?

Spend too much on renovating a five-bedroom house in Crouch End, North London. At the time I was engaged and thought it was my forever home. When I sold it last year for £ 2.25 million, I made no profit. I just broke down even after seven years of repairs.

The best money decision you made?

Bought a five-story house with a terrace in Kentish Town, North London, in 2009 for £ 1.1 million. I spent just £ 150,000 on its repairs, and in 2015 sold it for £ 2.7 million.

Are you retiring or investing in the stock market?

No. I’ve never heard only scary stories about stock investments and pensions. I do not understand the stock market and do not believe in retirement. Everyone I know who has worked well financially has done so with brick and mortar. Plus, I’m now financially secure for the rest of my life. I could stop work today if I wanted to. But I will never retire. They will nail me to the coffin, and I will still work.

Do you own any property?

Yes, my house is in Chelsea, West London, which I bought last year for £ 1.1 million. No one could view the property during the blockade, but I knew the house, so I paid for it in cash and got the deal. This gorgeous small detached studio house probably now costs around £ 1.8 million since I renovated it. I will try to expand it and add another million pounds of value. This year I also plan to buy a property in Amsterdam for around one million euros (829,000 pounds).

What luxury will you treat yourself to?

I like to blow dry. I never wash my own hair. Once a week my barber comes to my house to wash and dry it for me. I pay her £ 150 each time. I have hair extensions and it really requires a glamorous look. For me, it’s worth it.

If you were Chancellor, what would you do in the first place?

I would like to increase benefits for families in need. Those in need need more support than they do. At the same time, I would get rid of business tariffs. I think these taxes are killing this country. My heart breaks for all the big businesses that suffered during the pandemic. Getting rid of business tariffs will change people’s lives.

Do you donate money to charity?

Yes. Because of my tough appearance I am a real curse, especially when it comes to children. Maybe it’s because I don’t have children of my own. I give a lot of personal appeals made on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe when someone tries to raise money for a sick child. I also donate to children’s charities and food banks because I relied on them as a child.

What is your number one financial priority?

To have enough money to never worry about it. This, for me, is freedom. Luckily, I’ve achieved this – so everything else I earn now is a bonus.

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Celebrity author and agent Melanie Blake talks to Me and My MONEY

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