"I've chosen this crazy path, and don't know what direction my career is going to go, but I'm really happy.
"I would love to be able to pick and choose projects the way I did on TV in Ireland, but I'm in a very different position now. I'm busting doors down just to get an audition in LA, but I'm there in the mix and that's really exciting."
I'm having tea in the Westbury Hotel with the lovely Caroline Morahan, who surprised everyone when she gave up her TV presenting career to go to LA to pursue an acting career five years ago. She's delightful company, being warm, honest and girlie, but Caroline is also a hard-working realist.
Having made a name for herself co-presenting RTE's Off The Rails with Pamela Flood, she was bitten by the acting bug when she did I, Keano at the Olympia. She went to LA on holidays, and instinctively felt that she could have incredible acting opportunities there. Six months later, Caroline and her boyfriend, Daithi O'Caoimh, were living there, which she describes as them taking a huge leap of faith in each other and in LA. They were married in Tuscany almost two years ago, having met seven years ago at a wedding.
"I couldn't have moved on my own, as I'm a scaredy cat," she admits. "Being away from my family is the hardest part of all, and it was a difficult transition because we didn't know the place and had walked away from our jobs. I was going there to act and while Daithi had worked in finance here, he didn't have a specific plan. He just knew he wanted to be with me, and took a gamble on me.
"Whatever happens with our careers, he, and my family, are the most important things in my life. He's an amazing person and I can't believe I met him. If it was a choice between winning an Oscar or being with Daithi, I wouldn't even have to think about it. I would be happier with him than I would be with ten Oscars."
LA is a long way from Glasnevin, where Caroline grew up with her older sister Olivia. Her parents, Jim, a journalist, and Martina, a homeopath, gave their daughters a pretty idyllic childhood, despite them having a terminally-ill younger brother, James, who was born with only one kidney that didn't function properly.
He spent a lot of time in hospital and on dialysis, and when he had an organ transplant in the UK, Caroline and Olivia went to England to stay with relatives for a couple of school terms.
"I was nine and it was pretty traumatic, as we were apart from both of our parents, and going to an English school where we were freaks," says Caroline, adding that she came home sounding like an extra from EastEnders.
"There were boys in my class, and I got little love notes from them, but I couldn't cope with the attention. I would be sick to my stomach pulling up at the school gates, and one day my cousin Susie went up to the boys and said, 'If you ever go near my cousin again, I'll punch you.'
"When I think about it now, they weren't being mean, it was just intimidating for me coming from an all-girls' convent school."
While seriously ill, her little brother James was hilarious, very advanced and super-intelligent. It was hoped that the transplant would work and give him a chance at life, but sadly it became apparent that it wasn't meant to be.
As a result, James was given carte blanche to do things that children his age wouldn't normally do, like watching films and TV shows aimed at older people. Mind you, this freedom gave the family some of their best memories of their mischievous and funny little fighter, who sadly passed away, aged six, when Caroline was eleven.
"My uncle Jimmy, who lives in London, was really naughty, and he loved teaching James swear words," laughs Caroline. "When he developed a fondness for giving people two fingers, copied from something he saw on TV, we had to trick him into believing that it meant nothing, and that giving people the thumbs up was actually the rude gesture."
Luckily they succeeded, as Caroline's mum did some press to raise awareness about organ donation, which included an appearance with James on The Late Late Show. That evening, Gaybo got a hearty thumbs up from the engaging little lad!
Another funny incident occurred post- transplant, when it was clear that James was not going to survive.
"Jimmy smoked roll-up cigarettes, and because James idolised him, he insisted on having his own rollies and a little cigarette box," recalls Caroline. "He didn't know how to smoke or inhale, of course, he was just putting them up to his mouth and puffing to be like Jimmy. One day my uncle took him to London Zoo, and they sat there with their packed lunch and took out their cigarettes. Because of his physical condition, James was tiny, and a little old woman saw him lighting up and came over and declared that it was 'a bloody disgrace.'"
"He was also obsessed with my dad, and when the phone rang, he would say, "Are you Jim Morahan?" If they said no, he would say, "b**t**rd" and hang up the phone. James was a little brat, but he was so loving and sweet and bright and funny, and we adored him. He made a huge impact on us."
Losing her precious little brother was very difficult, but Caroline's parents are very open and grounded people, who helped their daughters to deal with the loss. She is a huge advocate for organ donation, and James' eyes were donated to someone who had no hope of seeing again. "If you have a tragedy like that, the only thing that can give you any kind of solace is that something positive came from it," she says.
While studying communications at DCU, Caroline was asked to host a pilot TV show, and loved the experience. There were no opportunities for TV presenters when she graduated, so she went to work at an investment firm.
"I went in like I was on the set of Ally McBeal," she says. "I loved getting dressed up for the office, but had no interest in the finance world."
Caroline then started writing freelance fashion pieces, and began working at the Herald, mentored by Bairbre Power. At one point she was writing the social diary, which was called Caroline in the City. Then her sister Olivia told her that RTE was looking for an unknown face to present The Fame Game, and she applied and got the job, although she was terrified.
"Homeopathy has saved my life with those kind of nerves," she admits. "I'm a lot more relaxed about things now compared with what I was like 20 years ago. If my smile goes really big, it's because I'm nervous. I remember when I was presenting, critics would say, 'What is she so happy about?' but that was fear."
Now that she has moved to LA to pursue acting, it always seems to me that whenever Caroline comes home, she is bombarded with media questions about what she's doing? Does she feel the weight of expectation every time the Irish showbiz journalists bear down on her wielding their tape recorders at events?
"They always ask me what films I'm going to be in and when I'm having babies, and I found it really hard and stressful in the beginning, because everyone had such high expectations of what I ought to be doing," she says. "I understand that it didn't make sense to people that I would walk away from a career here to go to no career there. I'm in class and studying acting full-time, with no US agent, so I'm not going for auditions the whole time.
"I've booked a few roles through social things, where people would meet me and then have me read for stuff. I've also done a couple of independent films, and sometimes you book a role that you're really excited about, but the movie's finance falls through, which happened to me recently."
So what kind of roles does she get called for? "My features seem to appeal to casting directors who want a sweet, caring mom, kindergarten teacher, or a vixen b***h who is here to destroy your marriage," she laughs. "I'm really lucky to have a wonderful Irish agent, Tina DeFaoite, at In Good Company, who is on this crazy career journey with me, and having the support of fantastic casting directors like Maureen Hughes and Frank Moiselle motivates me even more."
Happily, in her role of brand ambassador for Littlewoods Ireland, the beauty gets to come home regularly. She adores their clothes, she says, and is rocking a Coleen Rooney dress from the gorgeous new autumn/winter collection when we meet. "The new collection is incredible," she sighs. "I want everything in it when it comes out in July."
The other association that keeps her coming home is being a brand ambassador for Udo's Oil in Ireland. Caroline has been taking it for years, and credits it with giving her flawless skin.
As actors are so dependent on other people booking them for a job, Caroline has decided to harness her writing skills. In an exclusive piece of news, she reveals that she is in the process of writing what she describes as a "riotous romantic comedy." It will be a US/Irish co-production, she explains, and it's one of two projects that she has in the pipeline.
"I've always been a believer that you create your own opportunities," she says. "I'm really enjoying the writing process and it's a wonderfully empowering feeling to be creating on this scale. All going well, we hope to be shooting next year."
FORMER RTE presenter Caroline Morahan flexed her style muscles as the fashion judge at Gowran Race Course's 100 celebrations at the weekend to declare Kilkenny native Julie Muldowney the best-dressed lady at the Littlewoods Ireland Ladies Day event.