Amy Hu­ber­man

The award­win­ning ac­tor talks to Donal O’Donoghue about fame, fam­ily and Find­ing Joy

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“We are all meant to be shiny happy peo­ple,” says Amy Hu­ber­man of Find­ing Joy, her TV drama writ­ing de­but. “Of course, it’s not re­al­is­tic to be happy all day, ev­ery day. I’m not up­beat all the time but I’m not go­ing to come in here, giv­ing out about stuff. I don’t feel that I have to bare my darkest fears or worry all the time about the things in my life, like my par­ents get­ting older or the fact that my Dad is not well. I have to ac­cept those as the re­al­i­ties of my life but I do have a pos­i­tive out­look. That’s not to say that there are times I feel down or am hard on my­self, be­cause that’s just hu­man. I think we should own our sad­ness but there’s also the pres­sure to con­stantly have your game face on.” Three months ear­lier… It’s early June, the last week of film­ing on Find­ing Joy. We’re in a semi-d in leafy south Dublin and Amy has her game face on. Not that you’d no­tice with this up­beat multi-tal­ent, who is an ac­tress, writer, nov­el­ist and fash­ion de­signer (Bour­bon footwear, New­bridge Sil­ver jew­ellery). On set, ev­ery­body loves Amy (who plays Joy) in­clud­ing the pro­ducer, her co-stars and the cam­era­man who jok­ily pre­tends to pour a can of Red Bull into his cam­era as Amy laughs. You feel the love too. De­spite be­ing un­der the weather, Amy gamely does a short in­ter­view, fu­elling up with a mouth­ful of Tang­fas­tics, be­fore apol­o­gis­ing for rustling the sweet bag. Then, be­fore re­turn­ing to film­ing, she phones home to say good­night to her two ‘ba­bies’, Sadie (5) and Billy (3).

Two weeks ahead of Find­ing Joy’s de­but, we meet again. I ex­pect Hu­ber­man to be up the walls but she’s not anx­ious at all. Well maybe a bit. “Find­ing Joy is my other baby and I want it to do well but even if it is an ab­so­lute fail­ure, I’m go­ing to own it. This has been a long time com­ing for me and it was a dream to do it. I do feel like I’m walk­ing the plank now and won­der­ing who or what is wait­ing in the wa­ter.” She’s had lit­tle time to mull over such mat­ters, busy in the edit­ing room, adding in “lit­tle screams or noises” to the comic sound­scape. “I’m prob­a­bly driv­ing them all crazy,” she says, but of course, you know that she isn’t. It’s mid-morn­ing in a trendy café in south Dublin. The pre­vi­ous night Amy was at the theatre to see her big brother, Mark, in Ham­let. Now she or­ders a cof­fee with oat milk and im­me­di­ately checks her­self: “That’s such an ac­tressy thing to do isn’t it?” Peo­ple nearby pre­tend they haven’t clocked the ac­tress but their stud­ied in­dif­fer­ence is a dead give-away. When Amy sug­gests we swap ta­bles to a quiet al­cove, a mem­ber of staff rushes over to won­der what the hell is go­ing on. Then they no­tice Amy and their fuss trans­forms. For these rea­sons, it’s a devil to in­ter­view her, as in­evitably you end up yap­ping and laugh­ing and be­fore you know it you’re best friends, time’s up, and you’re won­der­ing, did I ask her any­thing ‘jour­nal­isty’ at all. Like, what’s go­ing on with her epic new home or life with hubby, rugby icon Brian O’Driscoll, or bring­ing up her ba­bies?

Of course, right now she wants to talk about her TV baby. In the open­ing episode, we get Joy wedged into a har­ness (“Can you see my knick­ers?” she wails) just be­fore ab­seil­ing from the top of the Aviva sta­dium. “Yep, I did that for real,” says Amy, who did lots of other things in Find­ing Joy for real, but the view from the top of the sta­dium was the scari­est one. “I said to my­self ‘Grow a pair Amy’, but it was re­ally scary up there and I was bloody ter­ri­fied. I was laugh­ing later with Brian when I told him that he now had com­pe­ti­tion for who was most scared in the Aviva. I did jump out of a plane in New Zealand once but I won’t be do­ing that again and I won’t bungee jump in a mil­lion years. Joy also gets to wres­tle and does a few il­le­gal ma­noeu­vres. You haven’t see episode two have you?”

Find­ing Joy is the tale of a re­cently sin­gle 30-some­thing, who shares her bed with her faith­ful dog Ca­nine Ai­dan (as op­posed to her ex, hu­man Ai­dan). Her name is spelled in light-bulbs above the bed, which just makes her seem sad­der. If it’s com­edy with a lonely side, it also has a sur­real twist as Ca­nine Ai­dan is also a nar­ra­tor of sorts. There are some fart jokes, a few swear words and a kook­i­ness that plays with Hu­ber­man’s wide-eyed per­son­al­ity. De­spite a starry cast, in­clud­ing Ais­ling Bea and Laura Whit­more, Amy is un­doubt­edly the star, al­though fol­lowed closely by her four-legged co-star, Ferne. “She’s an amaz­ing ac­tress be­cause she’s play­ing a man,” she says, “but we had to edit out her nip­ples in one shot where I was rub­bing her belly.” Find­ing Joy was ger­mi­nat­ing in her brain for some time. “I first met the guys from Trea­sure En­ter­tain­ment for the sketch com­edy series Your Bad Self,” she says. “They were so good to work with and we be­came friends. Later, I made The Stag with them (and also Hand­some Devil). We were at the Toronto Film Fes­ti­val and my first child, Sadie, was like four se­conds old, well ac­tu­ally six months and I hadn’t slept in those six months and it was first time away and I was re­ally jaded. I chat­ted with (pro­ducer) Re­becca O’Flana­gan who said I had to write a script and so it hap­pened, with Re­becca be­ing a true men­tor to me. By then, I had al­ready started writ­ing a film script, Bolt, with Re­becca as well. Then Re­becca and I had this idea for Joy.”

Hu­ber­man started writ­ing Find­ing Joy in Jan­uary 2017 (the out­line was penned at a friend’s house in LA) and lm­ing started in May of this year. “Joy needed to be some­body who was not shiny,” she says. “She had to be some­body who strug­gles, as most peo­ple do, with happiness. How do we get to be happy? So I wrote her and fell in love with Joy. And yes there are el­e­ments and quirks of my­self in there.” She wrote four episodes be­fore shoot­ing sea­son two of Strik­ing Out and mak­ing Cold Feet in Manch­ester (where, many years ago, she made her stage de­but, in an Ir­ish take on Sopho­cles’ Elec­tra) be­fore get­ting back to Joy and com­plet­ing the rest of the series (again in LA).

“Work­wise, this year has been re­ally busy and fun but there have also been times when I thought my ca­reer was over,” she says. “I thought ‘ at’s it’. So there might be peo­ple look­ing in, think­ing ‘ at was re­ally easy’, but it was not. I think of all those pit­falls and the jobs I didn’t get or got dropped or the pieces I wrote that peo­ple didn’t like and that’s part of life and also part of the cre­ative process. But you have to put it in the con­text of other peo­ple’s prob­lems and I know that I’m in­cred­i­bly lucky to get to do what I do.”

She also en­joys the other side to her life. “I love be­ing a mother,” she says. “I re­ally en­joy my fam­ily time and I need it and I’m pro­tec­tive of it. I also need to be cre­ative, so I need my time away from it as well. But I would never be pre­scrip­tive about how any­one else should live their life and whether they should be do­ing it one way or an­other.”

Amy is big on so­cial me­dia (with nearly 500,000 fol­low­ers on Twit­ter) but she doesn’t post im­ages of her chil­dren. “It’s a per­sonal choice,” she says, re­fus­ing to be dragged down the rab­bit hole – at the end of the in­ter­view, she says again that she wouldn’t want to sug­gest how oth­ers should live their so­cial me­dia life. “When I put my­self out in the pub­lic eye, that is my choice and I can still walk away from it,” she says. “It is a mis­placed sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity if you be­lieve you have to do ev­ery­thing per­fectly, whether that is wear­ing the right clothes or say­ing the right thing or do­ing the right projects all the time. at’s im­pos­si­ble.”

Act­ing was al­most ac­ci­den­tal: Amy, who stud­ied so­cial sci­ence at UCD, fol­lowed older brother, Mark, into act­ing classes. “Some­times my whole ca­reer seems very serendip­i­tous but the thing is, I have worked my arse o . e whole thing might seem to have hap­pened so eas­ily, but I spent years try­ing to make it work. And a few years ago, there was the time when I had the kids and I felt, I don’t know, strange, won­der­ing how I might get back into this job that I had been en­trenched in for so long. But I had that feel­ing also in my 20s, liv­ing in ats in Lon­don, not know­ing where my next job was com­ing from. I didn’t study act­ing but it is some­thing I have al­ways loved. I didn’t know if I was ever go­ing to be a writer, but I wanted to do some­thing cre­ative.”

So far, Amy has writ­ten two nov­els and has an un nished screen­play ( Bolt, adapted from her novel, I Wished for You, is also with Trea­sure En­ter­tain­ment). “Be­fore I had the kids, I used to write at night-time and I found that at night I wrote the more sen­ti­men­tal stu . I can’t write at night any more as I have to take the kids to school. I can do three solid hours of writ­ing. I get up at six, maybe go to the gym twice a week – but just in case peo­ple think I’m su­per- t, I’m not – then I go to my o ce and spend the morn­ing writ­ing and as the a er­noon is my least cre­ative time any­way, I think I have gured it out! A er all these years, all of 21, ( the woman who will be 40 next year laughs imp­ishly), I have cracked it!”

A fan of TV shows like Catas­tro­phe, Fleabag and GameFace, much of her time re­cently has been spent mak­ing TV rather than watch­ing it, al­though one show she has started watch­ing is Suc­ces­sion (Sky At­lantic’s mod­ern take on King Lear with Brian Cox in the lead). Oth­er­wise, she lis­tens to true-crime pod­casts in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian hit se­rial, e Teacher’s Pet. “It helps me to switch o from what I’m do­ing for TV,” she says. Did she laugh as she wrote parts of Find­ing Joy? “I did, but then you won­der if you’ve lost it and is it re­ally funny?” she says. “But I be­lieve you can only write for your­self, so it has to be what makes me laugh and not the guy down the road. Peo­ple can only come to the screen­ing if they laugh just to make me feel good!”

When we met last De­cem­ber, Hu­ber­man was on the way to Manch­ester for a role in Tony Marchant’s new ITV drama, But­ter y (Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 14). at was at the be­gin­ning of a hec­tic year, which in­cluded the sec­ond sea­son of Strik­ing Out, lm­ing Flack with Anna Paquin and now the de­but of Find­ing Joy. Is there the pos­si­bil­ity of a sec­ond sea­son? “ e hope is that Re­becca and I go away for a think-in and try to work out where it goes next,” says Amy, be­fore fur­row­ing her brow. “But what if noth­ing comes? What if there are no jokes le ? What if I have ex­hausted ev­ery­thing?” Maybe, but that is doubt­ful. With that, the tape runs out and Amy says she’ll look a er the bill and you step out in a world that seems just that bit brighter.

ere have been times when I thought my ca­reer was over

Find­ing Joy

Amy Hu­ber­man with Mil­lie Gib­son in But­ter y

Amy Hu­ber­man & David O’Do­herty in Find­ing Joy

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