What started as a 50p bet with a friend landed Lancashire blogger Antonella Brollini more web views than the Oscars and a slot on This Morning.
When watching YouTube videos of people reviewing beauty products, the 45-year-old was bored and knew she could do better.
She challenged her friend to film each other reviewing a lip gloss, with 50p going to the one with the most watched video.
Antonella says her pal chickened out, and still owes her that 50p.
Amazingly, Antonella’s online review, which she posted on her Facebook page, went viral.
She recalls: “I was watching online videos on beauty and skincare products, but they were really boring. I thought if the woman told a story or did something, it would be more interesting.
“I decided with my friend we should do a review on a lip gloss that was meant to make you have bigger lips. Whoever got the most likes would get 50p. She didn’t do her video and she owes me 50p.
“I was just being myself, talking about how it was tingling and burning.
“From that video, people were saying I should do another and I thought ‘well actually it is quite good fun’.
“I didn’t realise everyone in the world would see it – I just thought a few neighbours and friend would watch it.
“I did another video for botox cream. You stick it on your face and it is supposed to get rid of wrinkles. It paralysed my face but once you washed it off, I was normal again.
“I then did a review of Charlotte Crosby’s fitness video and that hit
98 million views. That was in February 2017 and had more views than the Baftas. In December that year I won the Viral Tap Award for the most viewed video.
“I started buying things from Amazon and it went from there, as businesses were contacting me, asking them to review their things.
“Then from that, people were asking me to review things they were unsure about buying.”
The mother-of-one launched her Antonella The Uncensored Reviewer brand and she now has 2m followers, who she refers to as flower pots, reflecting her Lancashire roots as she calls people ‘flower’.
And despite her accent, Antonella was actually born in Italy. She moved to Haslingden, in Rossendale, Lancashire, when she was nine after her parents divorced. But if you notice a more local twang it is because she was taught by a Chorley resident, as she reveals: “The reason I have this accent is because a fella from Chorley taught me.”
People loved her brutal nature and her anecdotes using colourful language, but Antonella adds she knows when to reign it in.
She says: “A lot of people find swearing vulgar, but I only swear in a sentence and I do not swear aggressively at people. I know my environment and I know how to watch my Ps and Qs.”
Her language didn’t put the BBC off, as producers asked her to take part in a new TV series. It was at this point she had to choose between her job as a GP’s receptionist, or seize a new opportunity.
She reveals: “I asked my manager at the surgery if I could take some unpaid time off to film and they said no. So I handed in my notice. You don’t get offered a TV show every day. It would be foolish to say I was nearly on TV but I would rather be at work.”
So Antonella began filming for Truth or Mare, which aired on BBC Three in March 2018.
She adds: “I was basically taking the mickey out of science and if it can really affect products. For example does coconut oil lighten your teeth? Does vegan meat taste like proper meat? As it was online with the BBC I could still be me and put a comedy slant on it.”
Producers then invited her back to take part in a panel show for BBC One’s The Customer is Always Right, which is currently being repeated weekday mornings.
Antonella was then invited to appear on ITV’s This Morning, testing various products. She adds: “I got a regular slot – The Flower Pot Corner – on This Morning to review products they send me. It can be anything from dental floss to facial hair removal cream, to a cooling blanket.
“It is a really good segment and I am really proud they picked me. It is live TV, so I have to be careful not to swear.
“Phil (Schofield) is a big Flower Pot fan and he loves my videos. Holly (Willoughby) is just lovely and they are both the same in real life as they are on camera. I took two months off whilst I did panto, as I was the evil stepmother in Cinderella, but I will be back on This Morning next month.”
With Antonella’s bluntness and no-nonsense nature, her followers began asking her advice on other things. She says: “As I was very honest followers were then asking me advice on other things, like ‘my boyfriend has left me – what do I do?’ So I turned into a bit of an agony aunt. People respected me because I was honest and tell it how it is.”
She was approached by Chat magazine to answer people’s problems through her column Ask Aunty Nelly. With a global following, she has an agony aunt column in That’s Life in Australia and New Zealand. She also hosts a live Facebook video on a Wednesday night for more ‘x-rated’ problems, as well as a segment she calls Sunday Service round her kitchen table, which is more sedate for Sunday viewers.
Antonella is also an advocate for mental health and is an ambassador for The Frank Bruno Foundation.
She reveals: “I want to help people going through a difficult time and say it is okay not to be okay. I want people to see that what some people out on social media is not what is going on behind closed doors. People are often striving for something that does not exist.”
Antonella is also open about her health issues, as she was told if she did not lose weight, she would die.
She reveals: “In January 2018 I was really poorly and I was morbidly obese at 22.5st. I had asthma choking me and I could not lie down in bed. I had to breathe with a machine in hospital and I contracted sepsis.
“Doctors said unless I made better choices, I would not be here next week. That gave me the kick up the bum that I needed. I wanted to see my daughter graduate.
“I cut out sugar and moved more. There was no magic potion but with these better choices, the weight came off.
“I got a new lease of life. It was not about being a size 10, but adopting a healthier lifestyle.”
Antonella, who got engaged over Christmas, lost six stone and dropped from a size 28 to 18. With a fresh eye on styling, she also co-owns a boutique store, Ruby and Daisy in Crawshawbooth. Although she is not regularly at the shop, she has her own clothing range and offers personal shopping experiences.
Her followers love the fact she is a straight-talking northerner.
She explains: “I am very real and honest, I am not an Instagram model who uses a filter. People like the fact I review beauty products with no make-up on.
“I am a 45-year-old woman who has lived her life. People can relate to me. I am a mother who has lived on her own. I know what it is like to hope a child has left food on their plate just so I can eat. If I have had a bad day, I will tell you.”
And she is certainly not afraid of trolls, saying: “I get a lot of trolls but it doesn’t bother me. I would rather they troll me, than others.”
Follow Antonella via Facebook: www.facebook.com/AntonellaUncensored/ or www.antonellauncensored.co.uk or https://www.instagram.com/antonellauncensored/?hl=en