London, March 22 (IANS) Jade Goody was the ultimate reality television star. From shooting to villainy for her racial barbs against a Bollywood actress to becoming an icon of courage in her last moments, the 27-year-old Briton chose a life that would put small screen dramas to shame.
Not many people grow up overnight, right in front of us, on our TV sets, the way she did. Before her cervical cancer finally consumed her early Sunday she seemed to have made peace with her many demons.
Her racial prejudices, the resulting public ridicule, disease and a dramatic change of looks - appearing bald without a trace of shyness in her last days - Goody fought it all. And the transformation was there for the world to see, especially in India where her every move was keenly watched.
Goody, who learnt of her cancer on an Indian reality show, was born to Andrew Goody and Jackie Budden in 1981. Her parents reportedly had an on-off relationship but finally split a few years after her birth. Goody worked as a dental nurse before making her television debut in 2002 with "Big Brother 3". It was the beginning of a romance with the small screen that would see many twists and turns.
Though she became known for her ignorance, she managed to become a celebrity in her own right, knowing well that she "irritated and entertained in equal measure". She married fellow reality TV regular Jeff Brazier.
Then onwards she appeared regularly in celebrity trivia and gossip-oriented women's magazines and also became a favourite of the paparazzi.
A mother of two, Goody released several successful fitness DVDs, opened her own beauty salon and released her autobiography titled "Jade: My Autobiography" in 2006. She also launched her own perfume, Shh...Jade Goody.
But what pushed her into controversy like never before were her cat fights, replete with racist slurs, with Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty after the two became participants in the British reality show "Celebrity Big Brother" in 2007.
Goody together with two other participants told her "to go back to the slums". Her no-holds-barred phrase "Shilpa poppadom", alluding to the actress' Indian roots, shocked Asians. Not only did it help Shilpa win the show but it also put Goody on a downward spiral in the public eye.
After that she made every attempt to make amends, including apologising to Shilpa and visiting needy children in India.
Last year, she went on to participate in "Bigg Boss", an Indian spin-off on "Celebrity Big Brother", her prime motive being to try and change "people's perception about her". In some ways, it was to be her last fling with reality TV.
She tried to learn Hindi words, Indian dance moves and within no time the inmates nicknamed her "Guddi" (doll) of the "Bigg Boss" house.
During one such episode she was informed about her cervical cancer, prompting her to break down. It was a moment captured on camera - like so much else in her life. If Indian audiences had not been placated enough by then, they were with her now.
After returning to London from India, she was preoccupied with tests and treatment, but continued to make news. She remained determined to brave out the cancer battle for her "two amazing kids - Bobby, 5, and Freddie, 3".
As if living her life in fast forward, she went on to marry her "Celebrity Big Brother" mate, 21-year-old Jack Tweed at a glamorous wedding in London Feb 22.
Notwithstanding her frail body and bald look, a result of her long-running chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions, Goody, dressed in a cream silk wedding gown, managed to keep standing throughout the 45-minute ceremony.
According to media reports, the couple sold their wedding photos to OK! magazine for a large sum. The magazine also secured the rights to the pictures of her children's christening.
Goody agreed to do so to ensure that her sons have a secure future, an act that prompted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to applaud her "determination to help her family" even after she was gone.
She even expressed a wish to film her dying moments. But after Goody left hospital for her Essex home, she stayed off TV cameras, perhaps finally wishing for a few moments of privacy.
In the end she wanted to be remembered as a fighter. As she said in her last interview: "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've done."