After five years working relentlessly in Los Angeles, Ruth O’Neill has returned home to embark on a new chapter.
The South Dublin native was one of the most recognisable photo call models during the Celtic Tiger, but always harboured dreams of making it in television.
After competing in reality talent search Total Xposure in a bid to join the presenting team at TV3’s Xpose, Ruth decided to take a gamble and hot foot it to Los Angeles.
The former UCD student booked a one-way flight in 2010 with her two suitcases and landed in a city where she knew no one and had never been before.
Ambition and graft paid off for O’Neill, who first freelanced at VH1 before landing enviable roles at ABC News and E! News.
For five years, she “had a ball” in the “amazing” city, despite the intense workload and competitive environment.
“I learned so much working for two major networks in America,” Ruth told Dave Fanning on RTE Radio One.
“But America is a tough place too, it's so competitive, you get barely anytime off. LA is a bit strange, it’s like a never land - no one grows up, no one gets married, no one is in relationships,” she revealed.
The blond beauty insists that Irish people don’t know how good they have it.
“The lifestyle is great - except for the weather - and the people are so much nicer here,” she offered.
After five years of living and working in the “fast-paced” industry, working constantly and being “chronically tired” Ruth made the decision to return home.
“At E! you’re working 24/7. Everyone wants your job so you’re always watching behind your back. Every day, we had to have five new ideas to pitch. I was up at 5.45am every day, then covering an event until midnight or 1am, then back in a few hours later.”
“It became hard to separate your personal life and professional life. Dating in LA - it’s impossible,” she confessed.
“I was thinking about it [coming home] for the last year. Do I wait until I’m 35 and all my friends are married and have kids and I’d be the ‘weird single friend from LA,’” she laughed.
The rumour mill is currently in overdrive that the chirpy and bubbly 27-year-old to front ‘Bounce’, a new entertainment show commissioned by RTE One.
However, Ruth refused to comment on her “plans for the future”.
When pressed by host Fanning about whether she might return to modelling, she laughed off the idea.
“At the moment I’m chilling out with family and friends as I never got any time off.”
“Modelling? That was about 100 years ago, I’m way too old for that now!"
Knowing no one, and with barely any TV experience, Ruth O'Neill booked a one-way flight to LA at the tender age of 22. It's now five years on, she's back home, and she tells Liadan Hynes about landing the much coveted dream job at E! as an entertainment reporter, how dating in LA is like living in a bad episode of 'Sex and the City', and how her decision to give it all up is probably the best one she will ever make. Photography by Kip Carroll. Styling by Liadan Hynes.
It's yet another tediously stunning day in West Hollywood but Ruth O'Neill, one of Ireland's brightest new TV exports, has no time to work on her tan. This is the natural habitat of the A-Lister, and harvesting morsels of news about them is a full time job.