Belfast actress Libby Smyth: I now have more time for people in need and less for time-wasters

1 Up and away – what does your morning routine look like?

I get up at 8am, shower, feed the cat and then have breakfast. Breakfast is a very important part of the day for me – especially when I’m in rehearsal. There is a little time to reflect and prepare for the day ahead.

2 What do you eat on a typical working day for…

Breakfast? Fresh berries, yoghurt and gluten-free muesli.

Having lunch? Vegetable, tomato and lentil salad or a sweet potato wrap filled with Parma ham and lettuce or falafel. After that I might eat a banana or a thin whip.

Dinner? Maybe chicken or fish with vegetables and sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta or brown rice. Then yogurt or ice cream for dessert.

3 Is diet important to you – do you take supplements?

Yes, I think diet is very important. I take a magnesium supplement and vitamin C every day.

4 Have you ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I went on a carb and sugar free diet for six weeks last year and lost 22 pounds. It was a difficult task, but I’m glad I tried.

5 weekend treats?

Weekend treats include wine and chips, or maybe a high-calorie dessert. As the characters in The Gap Year say, life is too short. It’s important to enjoy things you love – in moderation, of course…

6 How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit?

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I like to go for walks, especially by the sea. I find sea air very beneficial and relaxing. Being by the sea is especially useful when I’m taking a break from rehearsals. It’s the perfect place to reflect and prepare for the stage production. Being by the sea also makes me feel like I’m on holiday – which was a great way for me to prepare for my character’s tour of Ireland.

7 Best tip for everyday fitness?

When given the choice of taking the elevator or the stairs, always choose the stairs. Keep moving and keep going is my opinion on everything.

8 Were you a fan of school sports/sports or do you have a memory from that time that you would rather forget?

I liked gymnastics and swimming and loved dance classes…although most dance classes weren’t taken at school. My least favorite was hockey lessons as they lasted until late afternoon and I missed my usual bus home.

9 Teetotal or tip?

I like a sip on the weekend. I drink white wine in summer and red wine in winter. I also enjoy a little gin and tonic sometimes.

10 stairs or elevator?

Always stairs. I think it’s important to keep moving.

11 What book are you reading right now?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It really is a wonderful book. I’m almost halfway. It will surely take you on an emotional journey. I may visit the places in India referred to in the book during my own gap year.

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12 Best Netflix?

I really enjoyed Stranger Things on Netflix, especially the final season. I love 80’s nostalgia. I especially loved the soundtrack – it was wonderful to hear how Kate Bush’s song Running Up That Hill is being embraced by today’s generation, especially after all these years. Music truly transcends time.

13 The most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

Surprisingly, during the pandemic, I realized that I didn’t mind having time to myself to regroup and reevaluate. It has helped me focus on the things that matter and let go of the things that don’t.

14 Any new skills or hobbies?

A new skill I’ve developed lately is knitting. Right now I’m halfway through a very chic sweater. I’ve been thinking about making sweaters for the cast of The Gap Year, specifically for my partners on the road trip, Marion O’Dwyer and Carol Moore, as well as fellow cast members Frankie McCafferty and Meghan Tyler. They might get a trip during production – if I knit them all in time.

15 How do you relax?

I relax by walking, reading, baking, and spending time with friends and family.

16 What are your goals for 2022?

My goals for 2022 are to be less concerned with insignificant things and to be more creative. I’m certainly on the right track to achieve this goal. Especially since I’m currently working with wonderfully creative people like The Gap Year playwright Clare McMahon and Benjamin Gould, our director.

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17 When do you go to bed and do you think you’re getting enough sleep?

When I work, I like to be in bed by 10:30 p.m. Unfortunately, I often sleep badly. I would often reach for a good book to help me.

18 Biggest point of criticism?

My biggest criticism is any kind of cruelty towards humans or animals. We must take the time to keep an eye out for both of them. Cruelty is never acceptable.

19 Have your life priorities or perspectives changed?

My priorities have changed in recent years. I now have a lot more time for people who are really in need and less for time wasters.

20 Has Corona changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I don’t think the coronavirus has changed my attitude towards my own mortality… I was always aware of that. But I am deeply saddened for those who have suffered, those who have contracted or died from the virus itself, and those who have died due to late diagnosis of other critical illnesses.

:: Libby Smyth stars in The Gap Year, a new play by Clare McMahon, which runs at the Lyric Theater until Sunday September 25th.

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