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

1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

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 am in rehearsals. It provides a bit of time to reflect and prepare for the day ahead.

2 What might you eat in a typical working day for…

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

Lunch? Salad of greens, tomato and lentils or a sweet potato wrap filled with Parma ham and salad or falafel. Afterwards, I might have a banana or a skinny whip.

Evening meal? Maybe chicken or fish with veg and sweet potato, wholemeal pasta or brown rice. Then, yoghurt or ice-cream for dessert.

3 Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

Yes I believe nutrition is very important. I take a magnesium supplement and Vitamin C every day.

4 Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I went on a carb and sugar- free diet last year for six weeks and lost 22lbs. It was a tough one to do but I am glad I gave it a go.

5 Weekend treat?

Weekend treat is wine and crisps or perhaps a calorific dessert. As the characters in The Gap Year say – life is too short. It’s important to enjoy things you like – in moderation, of course…

6 How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

I like to walk, especially by the sea. I find sea air very soothing and relaxing. Being by the sea is especially useful when I am taking take time out of rehearsals. It is the perfect place to reflect and prepare for the production taking to the stage. Being by the sea also makes me feel like I am on holiday – which has been a great way for me to prepare for my character’s tour around Ireland.

7 Best tip for everyday fitness?

If you have a choice to take a lift or the stairs, always choose the stairs. Keep moving and keep going forward is my take on it all.

8 Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I liked gymnastics and swimming and loved dance classes… although most dance classes were not taken in school. Hockey lessons were my least favourite as they went on until late in the afternoon and I missed my usual bus home.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

I like a tipple at the weekend. I enjoy white wine in summer and red wine in winter. I also enjoy, at times, a wee gin and tonic.

10 Stairs or lift?

Always stairs. I am of the mindset that it is essential to keep moving.

11 What book are you currently reading?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It really is a wonderful book. I am almost half-way through. It certainly takes you on an emotional journey. Perhaps on my own gap year I might visit the places in India referenced in the book.

12 Best Netflix?

I really enjoyed Stranger Things on Netflix, especially the last season. I love the nostalgia of all things 80s. I especially enjoyed the soundtrack – it was marvellous to hear Kate Bush’s song Running Up That Hill being embraced by today’s generation especially after all these years. Music really does transcend time.

13 Most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself over the pandemic?

Surprisingly, during the pandemic, I realised I didn’t mind having time to myself to regroup and re-assess. It 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 which I have developed lately is knitting. At the moment, I am half-way through a very smart sweater. I have been considering making jumpers for the cast of The Gap Year, especially 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 an outing during the 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 worry less about insignificant things and become more creative. I am certainly well on my way to achieving this goal. Especially since I am currently working with wonderfully creative people such as the playwright of The Gap Year, Clare McMahon, and Benjamin Gould, our director.

17 What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

When working, I like to be in bed by about 10.30pm. Sadly, though, I often don’t sleep well. I would often turn to a good book to help me.

18 Biggest gripe?

My biggest gripe is any sort of cruelty to people or to animals. We need to take the time to look out for both. Cruelty is never acceptable.

19 Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

In the past couple of years, my priorities have changed. I now have way more time for people who are genuinely in need and less for time-wasters.

20 Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I don’t think the coronavirus has changed my attitude to my own mortality… I have always been well aware of that. But I do feel very sad for those who have suffered because of it, those who have been ill or passed because of the virus itself and those who have perished because of a delayed diagnosis of other critical diseases.

:: Libby Smyth is starring in The Gap Year, a new play by Clare McMahon, which continues at the Lyric Theatre until Sunday September 25. Lyrictheatre.co.uk.

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