Saturday 20 January 2018

Aoibhinn at home with acting gang

Andrea Byrne finally meets the modest actress who is taking Ireland by storm

Andrea Byrne

SHE may be relatively new on the scene but pinning down young actress Aoibhinn McGinnity for interview is rather difficult. It's not that Aoibhinn is being awkward, it's simply that she is incredibly busy.

She's "prepping" for the second series of successful RTE gangland drama Love/Hate, with filming due to start soon. Until recently she was on TV every Thursday, in Trivia, an RTE comedy-drama. She is also reprising her role as Erica in the successful Ross O'Carroll-Kelly play Between Foxrock and a Hard Place, which will be on at the Cork Opera House later this month, and then at the Gaiety in Dublin.

In less than a year, Aoibhinn has established herself as one of Ireland's most exciting acting talents. "I want to do more," she squeals excitedly when we eventually do meet. "It's not greed, it's about bettering yourself."

Having trained in dance and singing from a young age and been involved in local youth groups in her home town of Monaghan, Aoibhinn always knew it was performing that she wanted to get into, but wasn't altogether enthused about the idea of college.

It was Aoibhinn's father who suggested a degree at the prestigious London Studio Centre. While dance was the primary focus of the three-year degree, it was acting that she felt came "most naturally to her".

Why then, did she not choose to study acting? "I didn't think you needed to train in acting, and still kind of don't, like I know there are techniques that you should know, but I think you learn more watching people. Experience is everything, and of course your level of observation", she explains in her Monaghan accent.

The sheer scale and impersonal nature of London was initially unsettling, and it took her some time to find her feet, but she grew to love it and hopes to return there in the future. For now though, Ireland is where it's at for the 25-year-old. "I really think this country is amazing for the arts. A lot of people are living in London and they come back to do stuff here." She hopes to get involved in film in the coming year and, in doing so, make herself as "versatile as possible".

Aoibhinn is not your typical actress: she tells it as it is and there is a charming modesty about her. During the interview, a waiter comes over specifically to tell Aoibhinn that she looks a lot like the singer Katie Melua. She laughs it off, visibly mortified. He stays chatting for about five minutes directing almost all conversation at her. When he leaves, I tell her she has an admirer, but she brushes it off as mere friendliness on his part. When we are packing up to leave, the waiter returns to say goodbye and, even still, she is loath to concede that he fancies her.

Also, later on, when I tell her that on seeing a photograph of her, a colleague commented on her lovely laidback style, she responds with effortless self-deprecation: "I am an absolute knack-bag; I get things in bargain baskets." If that's the case, she has a good eye because today's outfit of beige peg-leg trousers and studded black jumper look both stylish and expensive. She puts her enviably teeny figure down to five years of intense dance and the fact that she's not one for sitting still.

Aoibhinn says she is very aware of the potential vagaries of the industry. "Oh yes, people love warning you about that, so you're well prepared and you can't complain about it when it does happen," she says, laughing. So far anyway, she hasn't experienced any negatives. "I feel new. It's all still the honeymoon stage," she smiles, "But honestly, everyone I have met I have got on with, every job I have done I have enjoyed. I really love it."

'Between Foxrock and a Hard Place' is at The Cork Opera House from March 28 to April 2 and at Dublin's Gaiety from April 4 to 16

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