Amy Huberman: “I look back on my childhood and smile and I am really grateful for that”

Amy Huberman Pic: Jayden Fa

Amy Huberman is on foot. She’s walking at pace through the doors of The Devlin Hotel (not far from her home in Dublin 6) where we’ve arranged to meet after this glamtastic photoshoot. Wearing faded blue straight legged jeans with trainers and a funky fleece zip up, she looks cool. But, then again, Amy is cool.

The reason for this purposeful walk is because life at the minute for this actor/author/ Ayu Cosmetics brand ambassador, is a dash. As a busy mum-of-three (at the time of this interview Amy’s husband Brian was away working at #RWC2023), her days are – as you would expect – tightly timetabled. Right now she has a one-hour window before she has to bolt to pick up her youngest, 2-year-old Ted, from Montessori nearby. But, you see, VIP is in a chatty mood and so even when Amy politely insinuates that she must dash, VIP’s keep chatting – FOR AGES! You know those times when you need to dún do bhéal? Yeah, well, we didn’t!

Eventually then when Amy does bolt, she really bolts! Ten minutes later we spy her as we drive by, and there she is waiting at the school gates. We do a double take because to have made it, she definitely had to run, or run-walk at least. But she’s not puffed; there’s no red face; no fleece tied around her waist, she’s still looking cool in her stylishly uncontrived way.

Follow her on Instagram (you probably do already; she has just under half a million followers) and you get a real sense of her also uncontrived sense of humour. Amy is just naturally funny. We hink it’s not at all coincidental that the tv series she wrote and starred in was called Finding Joy. Because joy is precisely what we get from following her on social.

But, lest we blow too much smoke up her proverbial, let’s take it down a bit. Her worst habit, she tells us, “is oscillating between being incredibly organised and totally disorganised”. Her life is also chaotic she says, she’s really sensitive too and, after her last book published in 2022 (she’s written three novels but The Day I Got Stuck In My Brain was her first children’s book), she feared she might never write again.

As she launches her festive partnership as brand ambassador for Irish beauty brand Ayu Cosmetics – who have just opened their brand new permanent store at Kildare Village – we chat the spectrum: from juggling balls to rugby balls in this exclusive interview…

Amy Huberman Pic: Jayden Fa

Amy, the rugby! We’ve got to start with the rugby! We’re so disappointed for our World Cup team and how it all turned out for them. But, are you even a tiny bit happy that you have your husband back for a bit?!

Ah, listen, the World Cup may be over but it’s just on to more rugby! That’s just the way it is! Brian travels for work a lot and I’m used to it now. It’s either gearing up for friendlies or European rugby, rugby never stops! But, on the whole I’m just so gutted for the team, the entire country was behind them and they did us so proud. They gave it their all but it just wasn’t their year. They were such an incredible team and seeing some of the older players retiring just made the whole tournament even more emotional.

Is there an intense vibe at home during something like the Rugby World Cup?

It’s weird because when Brian is not there, I don’t sit down and diligently watch the games. I have friends over, bit of Whitney Houston on the sound system, bit of rugby on the TV!

Probably best he’s not there because it’s not as if you could distract him and ask him to set the table for dinner!

[Laughing] No way, you couldn’t! He’s laser-focused! I could be talking to the wall! And while I may be having a glass of wine, he will definitely not! He watches it analytically, he’s watching it for work. He speaks the language of rugby and it’s a language that I grapple with a bit! But, you know, I did feel nervous throughout the games. I think it’s just remembering back to Brian’s time and knowing what it means to the players.

And what a group of players, some of whom we’re now losing to retirement, which you guys know all about. It can’t be an easy shift as a new work/life balance is established?

When Brian was playing it was a really intense time and when it ended it was such a shift for both of us. Retirement is big and it is hard. The life of a sportsperson takes such discipline and so that loss of routine is a challenge. It is a difficult transition and I do think it takes a long time to readjust and to not miss it. Often your peers will retire alongside you so at least there is a community, but still they’re all so young.

Amy Huberman Pic: Jayden Fa

Sure just look at Netflix’s At Home With The Furys, where the undefeated heavyweight champion boxer Tyson tried to retire but just couldn’t. Would you guys ever consider doing a reality series like the Furys or the Beckhams?

I’m actually in the middle of watching At Home With The Furys at the moment and next on the cards is Beckham. But no, I
couldn’t ever do a show like that. A crew in my house? Couldn’t cope! I definitely wouldn’t do it. For us we like to close the door.

It’s nine years now since Brian retired from professional rugby, has that new balance been found?

Yeah, he’s still in the sporting world but it’s not as fully immersive as it was. But life does always feels like a balance and neither of us really know what’s going on! Even my mother was saying last night, ‘I won’t ask you what’s happening next Tuesday because I know you don’t even know what’s happening tomorrow’! I do know what’s happening! But it’s uncertain! With this way of working you have to be flexible and lean in to it a little. But there are times when I do find it chaotic because neither of us have a 9-5.

Routine is needed to make a home run.

And I do crave routine because to be in a state of flux all the time is exhausting. However, if the family base has routine, life is okay. And, if Brian happens to be really busy, I’ll pull back, and he likewise.

Tell us, do the kids like the rugby? And, do house rules allow for throwing and kicking of balls indoors?

They do like rugby. But Ted’s only two, still it’s probably in his subconscious! We do have loads of rugby balls and footballs but I have soft balls for indoors! Whatever about breaking windows, people getting whacked in the face? Nobody needs that! The poor neighbours spend their time throwing balls back over.

Amy Huberman Pic: Jayden Fa

The best ball catcher must be your mad dog, Phoebe?!

Phoebe! My neediest child, my little rescue dog. Did I tell you before that Phoebe screams at blonde people [she demonstrates the scream and it is indeed a dog scream]. She’s a nervous dog and she has this self-soothing thing where she licks the floor! She could become a viral TikTok sensation! She’s got a serious personality, she’s not just existing in the house! Phoebe’s presence is known [laughing]. She’s wildly entertaining!

Great company I’m sure but you probably don’t need much company because it’s a busy house with small kids, (10, 8, and nearly 3).

The house is really busy but it’s great. The older two were at a great age when my youngest was born. I love every age and stage and every stage is different [thinking]. Actually every year, every month, every day, every hour is different!

Right, let’s talk about your campaign with Ayu Cosmetics. Why makeup? And why Ayu?

I’ve used their products for years so I am chuffed I was asked by a great Irish company that I admire and that is cruelty-free. Makeup has always been a source of creativity for me, and I’m excited to share that passion with everyone during this fabulous festive time of year. Plus, opening their new store at Kildare Village surrounded by such excitement was the perfect way to get involved with the sparkle and fun of the upcoming Christmas season!

Can we digress for a second and say we’re not sure we’re emotionally ready for Christmas yet – where do you stand?

In our house we are massive Halloween fans and I really indulge that for the whole of October and totally block out Christmas. I know the Christmas stuff is in the shops and we can hear the ads on radio, but I just try to ignore it until after my son’s birthday in November. Then from the 21st of November, I am on and it’s all systems go. I used to always be the one who was disorganised but that has definitely changed – I think the kids changed me. The better organised I am, the more I can enjoy December. The Christmas food is a bit harder to organise but I let himself do that, because he enjoys it, please put in brackets, absolutely doesn’t enjoy it, but he does it! That’s his job. But I really enjoy Christmas and I think getting the tree up as early as possible and the tradition of decorating it together, is lovely.

Amy Huberman Pic: Jayden Fa

Back on makeup brief, you always look great even though you may not think it at 7am. What are the staples in your makeup bag?

If I was going to a desert island it would be mascara first, then foundation and blusher. Ayu’s mascara is great for layering on thick and it doesn’t budge. I absolutely adore their under eye concealer and their cream blushers because there’s kind of a shimmer in them, love their colour palettes too because I like doing a smokey eye. I’ve kinda moved away from black eyeliners to brown. When I look back at old pictures of myself I wore heaps and heaps of black eye liner – wasn’t a good look! I also love Ayu’s body illuminator for the tops of your shoulders or your décolletage and their glitter liquid eye shadows too.

How quickly can you do your face if rushing out the door?

Hmm…three minutes? But, if I think back to the days before I had children it felt like a ritual, putting on the music and getting the glam on. If I get a chance the odd time now, I might do that, but I’d put on my audiobook instead! And, I definitely don’t think I’d spend 45 minutes putting my makeup on. I probably wear less now than I did when I was younger. But doing your makeup can be very

Where do you paint the face? Do you have a really tidy, organised makeup table?!

No! I have a drawer in a little desk that I also write on! But, I often think I do good makeup when I’m in a stationary car because forward facing natural light is always your best friend.

A makeup table that doubles as a writing table? That table’s got stories!

That table has! It’s got history! Bought it in Ikea and it has served its time! When you were writing your last book, the children’s book, The Day I Got Trapped In My Brain, you used to write in three-hour bursts when the older two were at school.

Amy Huberman Pic: Jayden Fa

Would you have the concentration span to sit for longer?

Well, the nearer it gets to deadline, longer days of writing are absolutely necessary. But I do find, generally, that I couldn’t creatively write for eight or nine hours. Some people can and that’s incredible, but I think for me it starts to undo itself, it doesn’t serve me, or the book. I often need to get distance from a project too to see what I need to tweak or change. But last year when I finished that book I definitely felt I needed space from writing. I had up until then jumped from project to project but I knew I needed a break.

Why do you think that was?

Well, I did have a young baby but I think mainly it was because I had to finish the book at a really difficult time in my life after my dad had died. And because the nature of the book was about loss I felt it hard to get to the finishing point. I knew I had to take a step back but I was afraid that I wouldn’t want to write again. Only in the last month have I wanted to.

So have you put pen to paper and jumped on that impulse?

I have! And I sent it to somebody! I nearly felt relieved because honestly last year while in this blanket of grief I was at sea with a lot of stuff.

Our careers can really define us even though we’re told they shouldn’t. Our identity can become very linked to what we do so no wonder you felt at sea.

Writing is definitely an element of who I am and how I express myself. It’s not all of me but it’s a huge part of me. I couldn’t imagine me not doing it, so yes identity was an issue.

Amy Huberman Pic: Jayden Fa

For you, do you need to work, not financially, but mentally?

I like to work, yes. But, while it may sound clichéd since losing my dad – and being in my 40s – I’m trying to be more present and trying not to control all the pieces. I feel grateful for what I have and I do strangely look forward to the unknown. That genuinely is exciting for me.

For young people out there struggling to know what to do with their careers, you give hope. Because neither acting or English or writing you studied and yet you’ve made a success of them all.

I enjoyed school but I never had this sense of “acting or writing is for me and at all costs I’m going to get there”. As a student I was conscientious and I studied for exams. As an adult, I have worked hard and I have been open to opportunities and to things not working out and going with that flow. When I wrote my first book I was living in London, was out of work as an actor and was working in a shop and so I wrote it out of a compulsion to create something and have some control. I never thought I would become a writer but it has been a real comfort to me and a real source of joy.

Your Instagram posts are a real source of joy for us! Often you have us howling! Where does the wit come from?

I think my family are really funny. My dad had the best sense of humour – as does my mum – but my dad communicated in jokes. He had such a lightness about him and I miss that. He would never slag you, he just joked in a nice way. He was creative as well and he worked for himself. Only since he died have I realised how similar we are. But, as well, my brothers, they’re funny, there was a lot of craic at home and nothing you said was ever ridiculous. Yeah, got slagged, but you were allowed to make a tit of yourself. I look back on my childhood and smile and I am really grateful for that.

Maybe this is why you seem so self-assured, so solid. Do you ever second guess or doubt yourself?

So much. I just don’t think you ever reach a point in life where you have it all figured out. I am sensitive.

Amy Huberman Pic: Jayden Fa

Are you? We wouldn’t have thought that.

Yeah. Massively.

Tell us something else we may not know about you, like how about your worst habit?

I have loads of bad habits! I think I oscillate between being really organised and incredibly disorganised. With the family stuff I am very organised because that requires routine. But when it comes to my own life I kind of live one day at a time. I can also get very overwhelmed with all the work-travel we have to do. This can get me distracted and then that overwhelm will make me flip the mode and sort everything out. It would probably be a bit easier if I could meet somewhere in the middle, but I don’t!

We know you have a child collection to run to, but before you go, what’s next?

Hopefully, with the writer and actor strike winding up there will be more projects coming soon. But, Harry Wild series 2 is out at the minute and series 3 – I think – will be out soon, too. Also, that Amazon show LOL (Last One Laughing) that Graham Norton hosted where ten Irish comedians/participants – me being one of them – come together in a room to try make each other laugh. That was a laugh and that is coming out in the new year. It was also great to have a little part in John Carney’s movie Flora and Son which is out now. It’s Treasure Films who made it and who made Finding Joy with me and they’re good friends so it was great to see their success. Still doing my collection with Newbridge too [she winks] would make a great Christmas present – just saying! As would makeup gems from Ayu Cosmetics [winks again]!

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