Erin shows her fight­ing spirit

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - REVIEW -

Erin Mcgre­gor went from a cri­sis of con­fi­dence to light­ing up ‘Danc­ing with the Stars’. She talks to Li­adan Hynes about win­ning a role in panto and in­tro­duc­ing brother Conor to ‘The Se­cret’

ILAST met Erin Mcgre­gor a few days be­fore it was re­vealed that she would be a con­tes­tant on 2018’s Danc­ing with the Stars. It was her first big shoot. She was ex­cited, she con­fided on the day, but also ter­ri­fied. “I was a ner­vous wreck,” she de­clares now with a smile. Erin was com­ing out of ma­ter­nity leave to per­form on the RTE show, ful­fill­ing a se­cret life-long dream to be­come a dancer.

Erin, now 37, is tiny, dressed in Ba­len­ci­aga sock train­ers, black jog­gers and a hoodie. The el­dest of the three Mcgre­gor sib­lings (Conor is the youngest, sis­ter Aoife is in the mid­dle), she can do loud and showbiz-y when the oc­ca­sion re­quires, but oneon-one she’s a real girls’ girl, a cosy chatty sort. She’s the type of woman with whom it is easy to get quickly in­ti­mate in con­ver­sa­tion, to com­pare wardrobe notes, par­ent­ing strug­gles, body in­se­cu­ri­ties.

“I think when peo­ple see me on telly, the showbiz side of me might come out, and they don’t re­alise that I suf­fer from anx­i­ety a lot,” she re­veals now, curled up in her seat over her cof­fee. “Be­cause they’re see­ing this im­age that might not look anx­ious. But I hold those nerves up un­til the last mo­ment, this feel­ing of ‘can I do it? I can’t do it’. With a men­tal strength her brother knows a thing or two about, Erin talks her­self back down. “In those few sec­onds I’ll say ‘come on Erin, it’s go­ing to be OK. This is what you want, let’s do it’.”

She is an ex­tro­vert, she says, but then won­ders if that is some­thing she does “to try and mask the in­se­cu­rity; ‘Oh look at me, this is great’, so no­body ac­tu­ally says ‘ look at her, she’s re­ally ner­vous’. But I do love danc­ing, love showbiz. Live au­di­ences, the nerves, the adrenalin.” Af­ter the birth of her daugh­ter Tay­lor, now 18, Erin, then 19 her­self, had gone back to work (a hair­dress­ing ap­pren­tice­ship) af­ter three months. “When I had Harry (now two), I was older, I was in a very lov­ing re­la­tion­ship, and I just thought ‘I want to be with my baby’.” As many women can tes­tify, be­ing home all day with a small child is ex­haust­ing and iso­lat­ing, and of­ten leads to a sort of loss of one’s sense of self. By the time DWTS came up, she had lost her con­fi­dence. “When you’re in a rut like that it’s very hard to get your­self back out there. Es­pe­cially af­ter hav­ing ba­bies; it’s all about the baby, and you don’t re­ally know who you are. I re­mem­ber the first time go­ing out af­ter hav­ing Harry, and feel­ing like I was an alien that had been dropped in. Ev­ery­one else was talk­ing about all this other stuff, and I was think­ing ‘I’m so dis­con­nected with the out­side world’.

It wasn’t the phys­i­cal­ity of DWTS that scared Erin. “For me, it was def­i­nitely more of an emo­tional jour­ney. It was con­quer­ing the fear,” she ex­plains.

Anx­i­ety wasn’t a par­tic­u­lar is­sue when she was younger, she re­flects. In fact, it seems to in­crease with age. “I think as you get older you be­come more aware of the dan­gers of life. Youth can be care­free. When you’re older, you’ve other peo­ple, more re­spon­si­bil­ity. You re­alise that bad things do hap­pen.”

Un­sur­pris­ingly, given her lin­eage, Erin is not one to be van­quished by fear. It was in fact she who orig­i­nally gave her brother Conor, then a teenager of around 15, a copy of Rhonda Byrne’s book The Se­cret. She is, she says, a big be­liever in the law of at­trac­tion. “He lives by it,” she says of Conor. “You can see, you can tell.”

Of her­self, she says fear is prob­a­bly some­thing she will al­ways live with, but the point is now that she knows she can deal with it, and would never let it stop her. Her big­gest re­gret about

‘It was on a visit to Las Ve­gas for a fight of Conor’s that Erin met her part­ner’

the show is wor­ry­ing about what other peo­ple thought of her. “DWTS was huge for me, be­cause I learnt how to let go, and not re­ally give a s**t any more.”

The first few weeks were stress­ful; Erin was trolled on­line. Then one night, some­thing clicked. She had had a bad dress re­hearsal, and was now in the dance-off. “I re­mem­ber stand­ing on the stage and hear­ing what peo­ple had said on Twit­ter, in my mind. It had been a hard week. And so I chose my guilty plea­sure; It’s Rain­ing Men. That to me is kind of my fun per­son­al­ity. I thought ‘Just let go, have fun’. Life is hard enough for ev­ery­body. I just thought feck it. Feck this.”

It seems to have be­come some­thing of a motto. “It’s OK to move on. I held on to things in my life for way longer than I should have, in­stead of go­ing ‘ let go, try some­thing new’. The ‘feck it men­tal­ity’.” Get­ting to the semi-fi­nals meant per­form­ing in the fi­nals, so Erin was in­volved for the whole run. She cried for the en­tire last week. “Be­cause I had fi­nally found some­thing that was just for Erin. I’ve al­ways wanted to be a dancer. Some­where I had put it out to the uni­verse. But I never knew how it was go­ing to come about. I was a woman at this stage, how would I ever be a dancer? With DWTS I had ful­filled that dream. And now it was over. It

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