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In 2007, 21-year-old hairdresser Aleisha Cowcher won Big Brother. This is her life now.

It was a Big Brother romance that lasted for two years after the couple left the house. But 2007 winner Aleisha Cowcher – now Collins – says she and fellow housemate Billy Bentley probably never would have got together in the outside world.

“I feel like we probably just connected because we needed someone in the house,” Collins tells Mamamia. “And we did connect in the house, I’m not taking that away, and we ended up staying together for a couple of years. But we’re definitely two different people that I don’t think in normal circumstances probably would have had a relationship.”

When Collins tried out for Big Brother, she was a 20-year-old hairdresser from country Victoria.

“I was visiting my sister in Melbourne,” she remembers. “I happened to walk past the auditions and I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll have a go.’”

Watch: An honest reality TV interview. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

She never dreamed of a career in the media.

“I feel like that’s probably where Billy and I differed,” she explains. “He was chasing that lifestyle whereas I was chasing normality. I did a few photoshoots and a couple of TV commercials but my passion was always in hairdressing. After the show had aired I just wanted my normal life back.”

For winning Big Brother – edging out Zach Douglas – Collins took home $450,000.

“I’d never had money so I was very cautious,” she says. “I just put it in the bank and let it earn interest. And then I ended up buying a hair salon and a house and a car.

“I think I definitely spent it wisely and it’s set me up for where I am today.”

But going back to work as a hairdresser after starring on a reality show wasn’t easy.

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“People used to come into the salon and be like, ‘Oh, is this all you are? Is this all you got?’ I’d be like, ‘What do you mean? I’ve got my own business. This is pretty good!’

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword. You don’t look like you’ve achieved much if you’re in your normal profession, and if you are on TV, people are like, ‘Why did you get that? You were only on Big Brother.’”

When Collins spent one day working in retail to help out her sister who was a store manager, it was even worse.

“I had people banging on the windows and staring and taking pictures,” she remembers. “It was horrendous.”

Collins stayed close to a few of her fellow housemates after the show, including Emma Cornell. She and Cornell both did photoshoots for Zoo magazine, which Collins describes as “an experience”.

“I was a bit uncomfortable. I probably look it in the photoshoot. The photoshoot was fine – it was the questions I didn’t like.”

Listen: What really goes down in a big brother audition? Post continues after audio.

Collins and Cornell lived together in Sydney for a while before Collins moved back to Melbourne. She met her future husband Ben when he walked into a bar and she commented to her friends that he was attractive.

“My friend said, ‘I actually know him,’ and went and told him. It went from there.”

Three of Collins’ former housemates attended the wedding – Cornell, Zach Douglas, and Andrew Temmet.

Collins is now mum to daughter Brighton, six, and son Archie, almost five. She recently showed the two of them her Big Brother finale episode.

“They loved it. They were like, ‘Who’s going to win?’ ‘You won, Mummy!’”

The family recently moved to Noosa in Queensland where Collins is running another hair salon. Nearly 13 years after appearing on TV, she finds she’s still getting recognised by her new customers – sort of.

“They’re not like, ‘You’re that girl off Big Brother,’ they’re like, ‘Where do I know you from?’”

Feature Image: Getty / Supplied.