■ The JLS star turned TV presenter, 33, on friendship with Emma Willis, singing with wife Rochelle and sad truths on Who Do You Think You Are?
What was it like doing last night’s Who Do You Think You Are?
Life-changing. I didn’t realise what an incredible experience it would be. Learning about what my family went through in Jamaica — there’s mental illness, my great-grandmother ended up in a mental hospital, there was slavery in my family and it was only a few generations ago. To know what my family went through to get to the point where my grandad left to start a new life in the UK was amazing. It makes me appreciate my life so much more.
Both sides of your family had a bleak time. Does that make you more grateful for what you have?
Absolutely. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side had a life that sounds like Oliver Twist and my dad’s five-times great-grandfather was a slave. Here I am now in a very privileged position but my ancestors were in very different situations.
How’s it been meeting new relatives?
I met my grandad’s cousin in Jamaica. The first time I met him he reminded me of my grandad so much. He walks like him, talks like him — it was strange but nice. I’ll be going out to Jamaica to see him again. This was my third time out there and I saw a whole different side. The first time I saw it like a tourist but this time I saw where my family grew up. And I’ll be taking my kids to see it.
If there’s a history of mental illness in your family, are you concerned about it potentially affecting you?
I’ve always known there were mental health issues, as a member of my family has experienced that in the past, so it wasn’t a surprise to hear that my great-grandmother ended up in Bellevue. What’s sad is that in 1938 there was a lot of stigma about it and she had no support. Now that’s changed and people can get treatment but back then she went into the mental hospital and never came out. It was especially sad when I heard about the conditions in there and how people were treated.
How has fatherhood changed you?
It’s given me more hunger. It’s put fire in my belly to keep pushing myself. It’s not just me and my wife I’m working for now. I’m now even more determined to work hard and be successful.
Do your daughters play with the JLS dolls?
Alaia does. She thinks it’s funny to take all the clothes off the doll of me and say: ‘Daddy’s naked.’ She took it into school one day. It was a bit surreal. She thought everyone had a doll of their dad — she didn’t know any different.
Did you and your wife, Rochelle, ever consider becoming a musical double act?
No. The only singing we do together is in the car with the kids. We wouldn’t be able to take it seriously if we had to sing a ballad together. We’d find it very strange. She sometimes does vocals for tracks I produce but that’s it.
Me and Rochelle wouldn’t be able to take it seriously if we had to sing a ballad together
You’re DJing in big venues this summer. What’s the secret of your success?
I’m in Ibiza all over summer with some big acts such as Craig David. I love it. I’ve always done it since I was a teenager. You can’t fake it — people will see through if you’re not genuine about something. If people can see you’re passionate about something, hopefully things will work out for you.
Apparently you’re joining the X Factor judging panel…
No, that’s not true. Isn’t Robbie Williams doing it? I owe a lot to The X Factor but I don’t think it’s very likely I’ll be asked.
Do you miss doing The Voice?
I miss working with Emma Willis — we get on well and are good friends. The show’s changed a lot since I did it on the BBC. I’m a fan of talent shows — I came from one and I enjoy watching them.
What did you learn from working with Emma?
Loads. She’s one of the best in the business and I worked with her for three years. I learned my craft better: how to deal with live TV situations, how to work on a show that’s such a big production as the live Voice shows were. I was very lucky to work with her.
What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?
Always be nice to people. I’ve seen people who made the tea and did the photocopying when I started in JLS go on to become record company executives. They’re making the decisions. It’s amazing to see how quickly people can rise up the ladder in the music industry. So be nice to people and work as hard as you can.
Do you have any career ambitions?
I’d like to get back into acting. I did it when I was younger and I’d like to do it again one day. But you can do it at any age so I’ve got a bit of time.
Humes’ episode of Who Do You Think You Are? is available on BBC iPlayer