Introduce yourself! Who are you?
For the last 12 years I have toured the world with the Grammy award winning show Riverdance, Co-founded weighted active wear line KiloGear – Cut and am a fully qualified personal trainer and yoga teacher.
Today, I advocate positive mental health and wellbeing through various speaking engagements, events and workshops for youth and mature audiences.
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
When I was a very small child I would say that I wanted to be a Disney princess when I grow up. I adored all things Disney.
Once I started Irish dancing aged 8 and took up athletics (long distance running more specifically) throughout my teens, I then decided I wanted to either be an Olympic athlete or in Riverdance. I had no desire to have a ‘normal’ job and always wanted to travel the world.
However, I didn’t have a great deal of self – belief, I thought they would just remain dreams.
Were you scared to start the process?
Petrified! So much so that I quit dancing aged 17, I went to college to become a personal trainer whilst working as a beauty consultant, then worked in a gym for a couple of years. I gave up on my dream because I was scared and didn’t believe I could do it.
My dad fortunately had the belief in me that I didn’t have. I missed dancing and would talk about it often, my dad then suggested I audition for Riverdance, I didn’t think there was a hope I’d get in but I did start to practice again. Dad recorded me and sent it in to Riverdance. I was then invited to audition in Dublin, summer of 2007. January 2008, I started my first tour of Europe and later on that year toured China and Japan.
Within 18 months I was asked to train in as a principal dancer, which was beyond my dreams!
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My Dad would tell me that it’s ok to feel fear and anxiety, but that I should do my best to just go for it anyway and not to hold myself back. He would say “You don’t want to end up with regrets, just give yourself a chance and keep pushing.” These words I say to myself often when I’m anxious to pursue something.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
I would let her know that it will all work out for you in the end, that the confusion you feel is ok, clarity will come. You will find peace and contentment.
I’d tell her not to worry about what everyone else is doing and to focus on you. It’s ok not to follow the crowd and to be different, in fact that is very important. Worrying about things you cannot control is a waste of time and energy.
Your math teacher is wrong – you will be in Riverdance. He told me I was living in a fantasy world with my dreams!
I would tell her she’s a lot smarter than she thinks too.
Oh, there’s many more things I’d tell her!
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Growing up I didn’t really have many supportive friends, they couldn’t understand why my weekends were taken up with dance and running. There would often be giggles when I’d mention my goals but for the most part doubt has come from my own self – doubt.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
I would encourage women to not worry about society ‘norms’, where you think you ‘should’ be at each stage in life and not to compare your life to others. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. Whatever is happening in this moment, accept it.
I used to worry about all sorts… Being in a certain place at a certain age, what other’s thought of me and my decisions.
I’m 33 now, single, no children, still figuring things out and recreating myself. I’m also finally ok with this, it’s absolutely ok to live a different life that other people won’t always understand.
If you can become aware of the present moment, your worrying will melt away. Meditate, it has changed my life.
Be kind to yourself, accept yourself.
Have you always had confidence in yourself?
As hard as it may be to believe from someone that has been on a stage most of her life, I’m only now starting to feel consistently confident in my abilities. I have to work on this every day.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love and admire my pure Grit. I’ve consistently struggled with my mind but in spite of that, continued to try even in my darkest of times.
I believe that my time with anxiety and depression has given me compassion and empathy towards others… And I think the world needs a little more of that.
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
It was summer 2007, I arrived into Dublin with my supportive dad for my Riverdance audition. We went to look at the current cast list at the front of the prestigious Gaiety theatre where the show has performed for a number of years. I recognized many of the names on that list from my competitive Irish dance career. I then started to panic, tears streamed down my face and I struggled to catch my breath.
I thought I didn’t belong there and didn’t have a chance of getting in, I put everyone in the cast on a pedestal.
It wasn’t the first time for me having a panic attack, my dad had dealt with this a few times before. He remained calm and suggested we go for a walk. This was about an hour before the audition was due to start.
I had decided at this point that I wasn’t going to do it.
We then went into a bar and my dad ordered us a drink, I had a couple of Martinis. Dad said “I worry that this opportunity might not come up again for you, I think you should do it. I know you don’t believe in yourself but I always have.”
I think a combination of my dad’s words and the martini calmed me down and gave me a little boost because I wiped my tears, fixed my makeup and did the audition, I made that decision just 20 minutes before audition time. Within weeks I had an email inviting me to tour.