This much I know: Denise McCormack, actress

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This much I know: Denise McCormack, actress

I always knew I’d act. I love it. I do it because I have never wanted to do anything else.

I was never particularly interested in school, I studied and got through exams but had no gra for the whole thing.

My mother sent myself and my two sisters to speech and drama classes when I was around ten and from the moment I stepped on stage to delve into a character my world became alive. It was electric.

While I yearned for those classes after school on a Wednesday afternoon, my sisters dreaded them. And not only did I love it, I was good at it.

I had to find a way to make acting work for me, and that has been the challenge.

I became shy in my teens, when I started to become aware of myself and the world around me. I became introverted in social situations.

I had a group of close friends and like all teens we were exploring the world beyond our doorstep and I always felt I was a step behind.

I compared myself to others and the outcome was that I was not enough of something; not loud enough, not quiet enough, not clever enough; and so that continued into young adulthood, and has been an obstacle confronting me along my career.

How can an actor who has to bang down doors, talk themselves up, reveal themselves before all, be shy? How does that work?

Answer in my head — it doesn’t. So I have battled that, and I have realised that it was probably my best friend.

My first professional gig was playing Minnie Holroyd in The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd in the Focus Theatre in Dublin. It’s especially poignant right now as my stage father was played by the late Johnny Murphy.

It was a fantastic experience to be surrounded by such talent; Johnny, Deirdre O’Connell, the late Jane Snow — to my young eyes they were heroes.

The power that poured out of them on that small stage each evening was phenomenal, but the kindness and grace that they poured over me backstage was inspirational and instilled into me the importance of humility.

I try not to get overly focused on having to achieve anything other than putting my all into what I do, be it being a mother or an actor. I am blessed with my family.

My mother dedicated herself to her children. She taught us to be kind and considerate, to care for others but above all else to be kind to ourselves.

She is a very spiritual woman, so my job with my children is to try desperately to be half as good as my mum and dad were.

Once I put my mind to something I won’t stop until it’s finished. I’m a very laid back person from a laid back family so I’ve had to work at being disciplined.

The trait I most admire in other people is compassion.

My idea of happiness is standing on the beach with my boyfriend and two sons throwing stones into the sea.

If I could change one thing in Irish society, it would be the Government, which we had a chance to do recently, but I think the outcome has reflected the public’s lack of faith in the system.

If I could pass on one piece of advice, I’d say follow your heart, make goals and stick to them, and believe in yourself.

One thing I didn’t learn in school, that I wish I had, is Buddhism.

My greatest fear is heights.

My idea of misery is losing someone I love.

The most useful invention ever is peace and quiet.

With two young children I’m forced to be a lark, not an owl. I’m in bed at 9.30pm most nights.

I believe that life is eternal, that we learn and grow and progress through every experience, towards a more enlightened existence.

So far life has taught me that you only get one crack of the whip. Enjoy the little things, it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey.

  • Denise McCormack plays Bridget Kiely in TV3’s Red Rock, Wednesday and Thursday at 8.30pm

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