ORLA Kirwan acts on reflex and does things on the spur of the moment. Which isn’t at all like Sorcha Furlong, who has played Orla on the RTÉ soap Fair City for the last 15 years.
“I think everything through,” says Sorcha, 38.
She loves her screen character. “When Orla joined, she worked in PR and dabbled in cocaine and was a bit of a wild lady. She was homeless for a while, was in and out of relationships and then became more stable, starting a business with Niamh. She went through a period of feeling really lonely and got together with Wayne.
“Now she’s a fully grown woman. She’s a mum. She’s still a free spirit but she’s a more level-headed, family-oriented lady,” she says.
Sorcha says that she and her screen character share some personality traits. “Orla has a good sense of humour. I like to think I have too. She can also be quite direct and honest with people.”
And, like Orla, Sorcha has one child, five-year-old Stella. “When you have a child and you’re playing a mum with a child in hospital, you can really relate to it. Being a first-time mum, when your child has a temperature or is teething, you’re always worrying about the little mite,” she says.
Sorcha feels blessed to be in a job she loves. Two years ago, she was one of four women to set up Smart Blondes, an all-female production company. The company is in the process of making its fourth film.
What shape are you in?
I’ve got an amazing trainer, Mark Lacey at TRX Insanity. I’ve been training with him for about a year. He definitely got me back to my pre-baby weight, which has taken a while.
I used to run for years, ever since I was 19. I’ve done a few half-marathons, but Mark pushed my limits, putting me through exercise I’d never done.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I’m very good with fruit and vegetables. I do an awful lot of juices — spinach, carrot, pumpkin. I’m good on nuts, porridge, chickpeas and hummus. I love fish — I’d have sushi for lunch.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
I let loose at weekends at McDonalds. I’m very fond of the large Big Mac meal — I don’t do things by halves. I like chocolate and a glass of red wine at the weekend. If I’ve trained hard, I’ve no issue having my treats.
If I’m not training, I wouldn’t go as mad — maybe just one take-out meal at the weekend.
What would keep you awake at night?
I’m a very good sleeper. Stella goes to bed at 7.30pm and if I’m filming during the week, I’d get in at 8pm. I’d go to sleep by 9pm. I have 12-hour days so I need the rest.
How do you relax?
By being organised. When you’re self-employed you have to manage your time. You don’t want to be trying to focus on one thing and worrying about something else. I like spending time with my daughter when she comes home from school.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Every Sunday my whole family get together for a meal and I love that. I believe family is very important. Maybe we could have Nina Simone or Frank Sinatra singing in the background — and Marilyn Monroe sitting in the corner.
What’s your favourite smell?
I love when Stella hugs me. Sometimes she can hug me for ages and I just cuddle into her little neck.
I don’t know if that’s a smell but it’s a comfort. Otherwise, my favourite perfume is Mademoiselle.
What would you change about your appearance?
There are days when I look in the mirror and say ‘oh god, I’m getting old’ and my body has definitely changed since having my daughter.
I try to keep myself as fit as I can. Women put too much pressure on themselves — what’s important is that you’re happy in your own skin.
When did you last cry?
I haven’t stopped crying at work because Wayne and I had a really dramatic storyline with our baby.
What trait do you least like in others?
Rudeness, insincerity and when people look down their noses on others.
What trait do you least like in yourself?
I’d like to be a bit more patient.
Do you pray?
Yes, I do pray and I like to do my angel cards and bring Stella to mass.
What would cheer up your day?
Stella cheers me up. Sometimes if I’m having a bad day and I’m living in my own head and someone makes me laugh by doing something impromptu it brings me out of myself.
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