Life

Love/Hate's Aoibhinn McGinnity up for Goliath challenge in Cinemagic movie

Jenny Lee chats to Monaghan actress Aoibhinn McGinnity about life after Love/Hate, filming in Northern Ireland, her favourite fashion labels and how singing live at Electric picnic scares her

Monaghan actress Aoibhinn McGinnity, best known for her role as Trish in Dhit Dublin gangland series Love/Hate

IF SOMEONE calls out the name Trish across the street, it still makes Monaghan actress Aoibhinn McGinnity take a second glance.

She has fond memories of playing gangland wife Trish in the hit crime drama drama Love/Hate for five series.

"I had a lot of laughs in series one with [fellow cast member and star of RTE Easter Rising drama Rebellion] Ruth Bradley and we became great friends. I also enjoyed doing some of the more challenging storylines in the later episodes. It was a great drama – there was nothing ever like it before and we all worked so well together."

Tipped for stardom following the end of the drama, Aoibhinn was signed to an American agency. While she has done one HBO pilot in New York, she's "making herself available" on both continents.

Most recently she was seen playing the role of Crystal, one of the two women involved with and battling for the attentions of the troubled James, in Conor McPherson's dark three-part BBC drama Paula.

"It was a role written for me. The script gripped me from the first time I read it. It was powerful and challenging in a good way."

The demanding role called upon her to portray a wide-range of emotions including fear, paranoia, jealousy and love.

"I just tried to get into her boots and to imagine this strange situation of another girl living with them," says Aoibhinn, who admits that, whatever the role, she finds it difficult to sleep when working.

"I'm not amazing at switching off when I'm filming, because you get such a buzz. If you're trying to portray someone else truthfully, they are always in your head and it's difficult to relax."

She has also filmed two shorts, which will be shown at next month's Galway Film Fleadh. The thriller Away with the Fairies deals with the subject of postnatal depression and again required Aoibhinn to research mental health in preparation for her character.

The other short she stars in, The Drummer and the Keeper, is an uplifting comedic story of an unlikely friendship between Gabriel, a 25-year-old rock’n’roll party animal with bipolar disorder who revels in rejecting society’s rules; and Christopher, an institutionalised 17-year-old goalkeeper with Asperger syndrome who yearns to fit in.

This month, she has been enjoying the sights and sun in Northern Ireland as she shoots Grace and Goliath, the second feature film produced by Cinemagic.

The project follows the success of A Christmas Star in 2014/15 and will once again give 37 young trainee film-makers, aged 18-25 an invaluable opportunity to work in areas such as directing, production, sound, lighting and music composition.

Billed as a big comedy, with an even bigger heart, Grace and Goliath tells the story of Josh Jenkins, a giant of the silver screen in America, who arrives in Belfast with a big ambition to make a movie. However, soon his world comes crashing down and in order to survive his fall from grace, he has no option but to take up hotel cleaner Lily’s offer and stay in her modest home, with her dysfunctional, working class family.

Directed by Tony Mitchell (The Bible, Primeval and Flood), it also stars Ciarán McMenamin as well as Emy Aneke, Olivia Nash and Jo Donnelly alongside young actors Isaac Heslip (11) from Banbridge, Maitiu McGibbon (11) from Lurgan and five-year-old Savanna Burney Keatings from Moira.

"Four weeks is a very short period to get a film done, so it's all go. But it's a very high standard and there's no such thing as can't. We've been all over filming, including the Giant's Causeway," says Aoibhinn, who plays the role of mum-of-three Melody.

"My character's marriage hasn't worked out. She's not in a good place and is a bit depressed, but she has to be there for her kids. But things do change for her as she finds her fighting spirit and goes back to her singing roots."

Aoibhinn, who studied musical theatre in London, has indeed started to rediscover her own singing voice. As well as singing in Grace and Goliath, last year she did a soul and blues set at Electric Picnic at Stradbally Hall, Co Laois – something she is planning to repeat this September.

"We only had a week to rehearse before Electric Picnic last year. I do covers, but try to make them as unique as possible, with little twists. I do really like it and sometimes do gigs in Monaghan, but it's not in the foreground of my career plans," says Aoibhinn, who admits singing live still scares her.

The glamorous 30-year-old is also a regular in the showbiz, fashion and gossip columns. Over recent years she has been linked romantically to DJ Chris Moyles and actor Adam Weafer, but she remains tight lipped about her relationship status.

"You can't really do anything about it. People believe what they want to believe, but it's not necessarily the truth," she says about tabloid gossip and media intrusion into her love life.

When it comes to style, she admits she likes "getting dressed up", yet also loves to be comfortable. While there are jumpsuits aplenty in her wardrobe, she does succumb to the odd designer treat.

"I love Zara, but I also like things that are a little bit different. The last time I was at an event I wore a Helen Steele outfit. She's from Monaghan and incorporates a lot of colour into her designs. She does eccentric, vibrant, bold colours and it's refreshing to see."

And her advice to budding actresses?

"Some people think it's an ultra-glam career, others think of actresses as struggling artists. It's neither. It's like any job with highs and lows, though between roles it can feel like a roller coaster ride. But my advice is if you really want to do it, then go for it."

:: Grace and Goliath will be released in early 2018. For further information on Cinemagic visit Cinemagic.org.uk

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