The shape I'm in: Valerie O’Connor, actress

ACTRESS Valerie O’Connor couldn’t be happier. The rain is beating down but she is tucked up in bed in the middle of the day with her beloved dog Gozo curled up beside her. 

The heat is on and she is working on her scripts.

“I have only recently moved to Wicklow at the weekends. It is special out here.

"The view is all trees. Everywhere I look everything is flooded in green. I just love that, “ she says.

During the week, she lives in Dublin city centre, just a short walk from the set for TV3’s hit drama series, Red Rock.

She plays the role of straight-talking Detective Sergeant Nikki Grogan. 

“I get a lot of [people saying] ‘God she is cold, God she is hard’ and actually I don’t think that’s true. 

"I think when women are in roles of authority and when they are not smiling the whole time they are seen as cold, whereas if a man did the same, he would be seen as doing his job.”

Off screen, she has a boyfriend, also an actor, but she is reluctant to go into details. However, she is more than happy to declare her age: 34. 

“They asked me if I wanted to lie about my age and I said no way — 34 is nothing. My mother says it only gets better.”

* Valerie O’Connor is an ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland’s ‘One in 1,000 Campaign’, which aims to recruit one thousand women to take part in the VHI Women’s Mini-Marathon on June 6. 

For details, visit www.cfireland.ie , telephone LoCall 1890 311 211 or email fundraising@cfireland.ie 

What shape are you in?

I’m not a gym bunny. But I keep fit. My dog makes me go for a walk every day. We usually spend two hours walking — that’s how I get my exercise. 

I wish I said I get up at six to do yoga but I’m filming so much that I don’t.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

In the morning I have my bowl of porridge, my blueberries, and my flaxseeds. I find if I ate chips for the rest of the day, I don’t feel too bad.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I indulge myself all the time. I don’t diet. I stopped dieting when I was a teenager. I don’t agree with it. I think you should have whole foods, if you are lucky enough to have organic food then eat that. 

I eat everything. I love full-fat milk and full-fat butter. I had French toast the other morning with golden syrup and it was heaven.

What would keep you awake at night?

I sleep like a baby. If I was telling scary stories before going to bed that might keep me awake. I love ghost stories.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I’d have my family. I would love to meet Shakespeare. I’d love to know what his relationship with the wife was like and if he wrote all those plays. I’d say he’d be good crack, and a bit intense. 

I’d also love to meet Grace O’Malley. And Fanny Parnell. She was the sister of Charles Stuart Parnell and is quite fascinating. I would love to meet the women of the rebellion. And Stephen Fry.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I’d like nicer clothes. I used to say I’d like a smaller nose, and I’d like to be thinner. But I stopped all that. I just think it’s so negative. 

No, I am the way I am and that’s it. People are so critical of themselves. I’ve kind of given up that. You think things will get better but actually, you just become more yourself. 

It’ s lovely to look nice but if I was going out I’d prefer to have a nice night as opposed to being stressed out about what I look like.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love rose and the smell of Gozo.

When is the last time you cried?

I cry all the time. We were getting a movie out the other night and for whatever reason we got the Muppets. 

It was just the most innocent film and it brought back so many childhood memories. I got a bit emotional.

What traits do you least like in others?

I don’t like any cruelty or meanness. I find rudeness really difficult to watch — even if you’re in a shop. I think everyone should be treated with respect.

What traits do you least like in yourself?

Loads. I’m very sensitive. I’m so sensitive that I need to toughen up. Other people getting upset kills me.

Do you pray?

Every day. I’ve a beautiful prayer by my bed — the prayer of St Francis of Assisi. One line says ‘where there is hatred sow love’. 

I light candles for everyone.

What would cheer up your day?

Gozo — whenever I see his face, I light up. And my mum. I love being in my family home — you can have great crack there.

— Irene Feighan



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