The shape I'm in: Michaela O'Neill, actress

If there was a song to describe Michaela’s life right now it would be Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. The RTÉ2 Scorchio actress is "having a good time"  and staying in shape, even if it means living in fast-forward mode seven days a week, writes Irene Feighan.

She is currently studying for a masters in education with a view to teaching primary school children. On Fridays and Saturdays she and her boyfriend, Fair City’s Ryan Andrews — they’ve been an item for the past seven years — teach at their new stage school, StageKidz Academy.

She also manages to teach Irish dancing twice a week. Then it’s rehearsals on Sundays for the Olympia panto where she is the dance captain for a third year.

“I’m in school placement right up until a week before the panto. So I’m up to my eyes in lesson plans and everything that goes with it. It’s great fun. I take on these things and worry about them later,” says the 22-year-old Dubliner, who has performed in a panto every Christmas since she started stage school aged four.

But does she ever stop to rest? “When busy people keep busy they don’t know if they’re tired. When I stop that’s when I feel tired.”

  • The Ugly Sisters & Yer Wan, The Story of Cinderella at The Olympia Theatre, Friday, December 16, to Sunday, January 8.

What shape are you in?

I’m lucky that my lifestyle helps to keep me in shape rather than having to follow a strict diet. I don’t worry about my weight. I’ve always kept on the go so I think that’s what helps me to keep fit.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I always have a nice healthy dinner, thanks to my mum. And if I get up early enough I like to make a smoothie for myself. I throw in anything I have: low-fat yoghurt, orange juice, carrots, spinach, fruit.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Chinese at the weekend, usually on Fridays after stage school. The chicken satay would be my favourite.

What would keep you awake at night?

If anything would keep me awake it would be making sure I’ve everything ready for the next day. If it was for school, I’d be checking I’ve all my lessons in. For stage school, I’d make sure to have all the routines made up and to know what I’m doing. I would have no problem staying up until 2am. It could be the night I’m designing t-shirts for the stage school or just costumes or Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat.

How do you relax?

I love going to Dundrum Town Centre and doing a bit of shopping. It could be just for an hour with my mum during the week. Or, at the weekend, have a ramble around the shops and get a coffee.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I really admire Amy Huberman and Pippa O’Connor. Even though they have partners, they also have their own businesses. They have great personalities and are really down to earth. Also, Walt Disney — I love all things Disney; Richard Branson, to pick his brain about business; Graham Norton; my boyfriend Ryan and my three best friends — Eve, Sharon and Danielle.

What is your favourite smell?

Vanilla — either in a candle or baking with it.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I try not to compare myself to others. I think if you’re comfortable and confident in yourself you’ll always look well.

When is the last time you cried?

I’m always crying — I cry at all the Christmas ads. I do a song in the stage school — it’s about growing up — and I cry when the kids sing it. Anything with animals, dogs, children, old people and I’m gone.

What traits do you least like in others?

When people are trying to outdo each other, rather than praise each other. I think social media has a lot to do with that.

What traits do you least like in yourself?

I’m a bad timekeeper. I always try to do something at the last minute. Also, I can’t get up early. I’d only leave myself 10 minutes to get out of the house.

Do you pray?

Every now and again at night time. And I try not to pray only when I’m asking for something. Obviously, at school we say prayers every morning.

What would cheer up your day?

Seeing my nephews — Alex, aged three; Louis, aged nine months; Theodore, aged two months. I see them nearly every day. I’m the youngest in my family and I absolutely adore babies and children.


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