Saturday 17 November 2018

They should be so lucky

Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

WHEN 10-year old Mark Huberman accidentally wrecked his eight-year-old sister Amy's Kylie poster, the trauma that ensued was the nearest the close siblings ever came to falling out.

Amy, who plays Daisy the receptionist in RTE drama The Clinic, had just been given the poster by her dad after a work trip to the US. Her brother, Mark, who is currently on our screens playing Conor in Midlands-based drama Pure Mule, had been given a toy dagger from the same trip, and he was throwing it up and catching it with all of the recklessness and bravado of an elder brother.

"I was obsessed with Kylie and Jason," recalls Amy, 26, "and getting this poster was a huge deal because we weren't spoilt kids. It was laid out on the bed ready to go up on the wall, when Mark missed catching the dagger, and it landed on the poster, stabbing poor Kylie in the face!"

Loyalty to her big brother meant that Amy didn't rush to tell their parents, but she was unable to hold in her devastation, and suddenly erupted into tears an hour later over dinner. Kylie was hastily patched up, but alas, the damage was irreparable and she was scarred for life. Nonetheless, this seems to have been the gravest incident between the acting Huberman siblings, who have one younger brother Paul, 22, a student of auctioneering and property management.

Mark and Amy didn't grow up in a theatrical household in Cabinteely, Co Dublin, although there was certainly plenty of creativity there, with dad Harold being a fashion designer and mum Sandra a singer who won a Feis Cheoil and was involved in musicals.

When Amy was eight, she wanted to go to drama classes, so her protective brother Mark was also dispatched to classes with Betty Ann Norton. "I was sent along to keep an eye out for Amy, but I quickly became hooked myself," he says. "I absolutely loved acting, but I neverthought it would be possible to do it as a full-time career, so I went to Trinity after school to study science."

Mark joined the Players drama group in Trinity and appeared in several of its productions. His break into professional acting came when a fellow cast member's agent took him on her books, which led to a part in Peter Sheridan's film Borstal Boy in 2000. With his baby-faced good looks an advantage, parts soon followed in various TV programmes, such as Band of Brothers, films, including Bloom and Boy Eats Girl, and plays, including the recent A View from the Bridge at the Gate.

Meanwhile, Amy, who loved art and initially thought she might pursue a career in animation, was studying social science in UCD followed by an MA in media studies. Having spent a few years earlier attending part-time classes at the Gaiety School of Acting, she pursued her studies while appearing in amateur productions. However, in similar fashion to Mark, Amy got an agent when she was appearing in a play in town, which led to a part in the RTE series On Home Ground. Following on from that, she won roles in Showbands and The Clinic, and has been a regular fixture on our screens in the latter since 2003.

Mark and Amy live together in Dublin city centre although Amy has just gone over to London for a couple of months, where she has already had a couple of theatre roles in recent years. From the easy rapport and camaraderie between them, it is clear that they are great friends and hugely supportive of each other's careers.

"Amy has a beautiful nature, and has massive energy and enthusiasm," says Mark. "She's extremely talented, and could have done any one of 20 careers successfully."

The nature of the business means that they sometimes end up at the same auditions, but the siblings are adamant that there is no rivalry between them. In fact, Amy says Mark believes in her career almost more than his own.

"Mark is a really loyal brother and he is so supportive of me," she says. "He's great to have a laugh with, or a chat, if you're feeling down."

This support and encouragement can be vital, andthe Hubermans agree that the waiting between jobs can be a bit of a nightmare, although they are lucky that they have both been kept busy lately.

"We have a really good relationship with our parents and Paul," says Mark. "They are really encouraging of what we do, although they find it surprising that two of their children ended up becoming actors. They worry about the stability of it all, but they know we're both happy and it's been a great adventure."

Mark's next project will be Over the River and Through the Woods at Andrew's Lane Theatre next month.

Given their closeness in age and experience, it is likely that they will cross paths again professionally. They have already appeared together in an episode of The Clinic. Amy is planning to spend time with their extended family in London. "Our grandfather was Polish, which is where the name 'Huberman' came from, and his family came to England during the World War, so all of our extended family are there," she says. "Our dad is Jewish and so is his family, so it's great to hang out with our cousins there, because it's such a different lifestyle to ours. I really love working in Ireland, though, and luckily it's easy to come back over for auditions."

The Clinic, Sundays, RTE 1, 9.25pm

Pure Mule, Tuesdays, RTE 2, 9.30pm

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