Author, actress, shoe designer - and now screenwriter. Joyce Fagan talks career and family with Amy Huberman.
Often dubbed the nation’s sweetheart the doe-eyed Amy Huberman, once you meet her, is someone you think you could instantly become lifelong friends with.
She is incredibly quick-witted but not crude, super successful but not smug, and in an age where we portray perfect lives from behind filtered lenses, Amy is refreshingly real. In her company you feel inspired, not envious.
At 36 years of age, the mum-of-two has written two best-selling novels, has more than 20 acting credits to her name, and has written her first ever screenplay, Bolt.
“I wrote a lot of the screenplay in a coffee shop in Ranelagh, in Cinnamon, and they were so nice to me. I’d just come and hot-desk every day and it was great. I was worrying about the noise but there’s so much that it becomes white noise. I did have earplugs in my ears though,” jokes Amy.
Following a screenwriting course last summer she wrote the screenplay while pregnant with her second child Billy, who was born last November.
“I loved it [the course] so I wrote and I was pregnant as well so it was a really good opportunity for me to write. I’m lucky that I’ve an outlet for writing because it’s not easy to get all the parts in the world when your stomach is out to here and you’re in front of a camera,” says Amy.
One would be forgiven for assuming that Amy leads a charmed life, being able to write and work from home, while spending time with her husband, former Irish rugby international Brian O’Driscoll and young brood, which includes her daughter — two-year-old Sadie. It is a myth she is quick to dispel.
“Doing it at home, interesting,” muses Amy, “it’s such a romantic, lovely idea but I can’t do it, I absolutely can’t do it. For me there’s too much procrastination before I actually do anything so if there’s noise or anything to distract me, I’m a waste of space.
“I’ve parked down roads and hidden in my car to learn lines, oh my God, anywhere, I have gone into the back of shops. I do like to write at night so if they’re asleep that’s great but if it’s during the day I think I have to get out,” explains the author and actress.
Unlike many celebrities it is clear from the get-go that she does not like to promote an image of a perfect life and is also honest about how she handles rejection in her career.
“You spend a lot of your time reading scripts and auditioning and taping for things you’ll never hear back from. It is really hard. It’s really hard when they’re accumulative and you can pretend, ‘you know yeah.’ You get a lot of rejection and that is really hard and sometimes genuinely it’s water off a duck’s back but other times it is tough. It’s not like it becomes massively, personally ‘oh I’ve been rejected,’ it’s because you really wanted to do it or you became close to doing it and that’s what’s really hard.
“There’s no medal for second place, you don’t get it and it’s harder the closer you get to it because you’re kind of visualising yourself doing it and you don’t get it. But it’s just the nature of this gig and I think once you start auditioning for stuff away in the UK and in the States the pool becomes so much bigger so the competition is so massive.
“But the rejection, yeah I’m not going to lie, I do struggle with it sometimes, you have a run of it and you’re like ‘whatever’ and you build up your resistance and other times it does get to you and then you get over it. I always think give yourself a morning or give yourself a few hours to feel a little bit like ‘woe is me’ and then you get over it,” says Amy frankly.
Aside from her acting and writing work she has also been the face of Newbridge Silverware, has been designing shoes for Bourbon Footwear since 2012, and is a Barnardos ambassador.
Having flirted with the idea of studying medicine but settling on a degree in social science instead, her Barnardos work is very close to her heart. “The one thing in life, if we can help in anyway, is to give children the best start that we can and childhood is so important,” believes Amy. “I studied social science which was kind of a precursor to it [the Barnardos work).
“All those years ago when I was filling out CAO forms I was looking at medicine roles or occupational therapy all that kind of stuff and I guess I did maybe even back then want to be involved in a career that helped people.”
However, social work was not, as she found out in college, for her.
“As much as I did like my course I kind of realised early on that it was definitely a vocation and it was possibly not for me. What’s so special about everybody that does that job is that they give their all to it. I think to be able to walk away from it at the end of the day, in as much as you can and then have your own life, which is very important for the people working there as well, I’m sure you can’t just switch it off but I realised that something that all encompassing, was something I wasn’t going to be able to do very well without getting, you know, too emotional about every situation and some people are better at that than others.
“So I kind of thought that was possibly not the road that I should take. I did think about it and it was a lot of careful consideration to realise that it possibly wasn’t for me,” says Amy honestly.
“Also doing stuff like this [Barnardos] gives you perspective on your own life and stops your tunnel vision about your own things, we’ve all had situations career wise where you’ve wanted certain things and you haven’t but I think keep your feet in the real world,” she adds.
For now Amy is back out auditioning and went to the UK in August to work on an episode of an ITV production, but screenwriting, and possibly with her celebrity pal Dawn O’Porter, is now part of her main agenda.
“We [Dawn and Amy] did talk about that [writing] and again I would be really, really open for that because I think as well it can be lonely writing on your own and sometimes I think I’ve written something quite funny and the next thing I’ll read it and say ‘that’s mental, that’s not funny.’
“So I think sparring off someone else can create a melting pot and I think sometimes that can be really good to test out your ideas. So yeah we did talk about but we haven’t talked about it recently,” explains Amy.
But before we can get too excited about the meeting of these two comic minds Amy adds that while working with her friend would be fun, Dawn is busy with an impending book deadline. Watch this space though.
Amy Huberman is an ambassador for Barnardos Children’s Charity. The charity, which works with 11,3000 children and families, is holding its third annual Buckets for Barnardos on Friday September 18, and is looking for bucket shakers all over Ireland. The event is the charity’s largest annual fundraiser. You can also help by texting ‘Bucket’ to 50300 to donate €4.
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