Camille O’Sullivan is a singer and actress. She is the lead actress for Westival, has a solo show at Olympia in November and from December will play Edith Piaf at the Gate Theatre. Born in London, she grew up in Passage West, Co Cork. She lives in Dublin with actor Aidan Gillen and her daughter, Leila Elodie (9 years old).
I am very shy around other people but at home I am always smiling, cheerful and full of joy. My parents had to pretend I was three years old to get me into Montessori because all my babysitters left after one day. They say they love me but I’ve been too complete for them. Dad says nothing has changed.
Choose three words to describe yourself.
Bonkers, loving and loyal.
What motivates you?
Curiosity, fear and love of life. I love to learn, explore and do new things every day. I hope to be like that until I’m 90. Curiosity is very important. I’m scared of things and so I chase them. David Bowie says don’t let your feet touch the ground. If you’re too comfortable, you’re not living the life you should be. That really resonated with me.
Who is your role model?
Anyone working as a nurse. I’m just a singer. Those people do real work. After my car accident in 1999, I was in Tallaght hospital. I was very vulnerable – I couldn’t walk or go to the bathroom on my own – but the nurses took great care of me. One of them still comes to see my shows. She remembers when I was on morphine saying, “I want to sing.”
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Your mother is French. Tell us about the French side of your character.
I look French, and so does my daughter. The French side of my character is Mediterranean. I like to laugh and I like to cry. It’s “I love you” and a minute later it’s “I hate you”. It’s dramatic, loud, and full of passion.
How ambitious are you?
I’m artistically ambitious, but money doesn’t motivate me, and neither does fame. As long as I’m singing and love what I’m doing, that’s all that matters.
You have performed all over the world. How would you describe your career trajectory?
I used to think that if you were good, someone would find out and that would be lucky. But seeing people on stage who weren’t brilliant but really brave, I realized that it wasn’t luck. It’s all about really hard work. If I want to be successful, I have to make it happen.
So I wrote a very serious letter to the theaters asking if I could perform there. I planned my own travels. Noel McHale from MCD Promotions still has my postcard asking if I can perform at Olympia. That’s how it started. I’ll be back there in November. 80% of my life is planning and 20pc doing.
How do you juggle parenting? [with former partner, Waterboy Mike Scott]?
We make it work. We decided that we would never be away from her for two weeks. I tend not to perform too much during the semester, and I take her with me on vacation. She went to a lot of festivals and met a lot of drag queens. I want her to see everything.
Tell us a few facts about yourself that might surprise everyone.
I can ski the black slope. That means you can go down very steep slopes, like skiing off a cliff. Last year, I learned to drive a mountain bike in New York. And I love gardening, sewing, fixing cars, and doing it myself. Woodie’s is my favorite store.
Your partner is an actor and sometimes you act too. Are there any other similarities?
I love sleeping in a tent and I love roughing it up. Aidan does too and I like that about him. The two of us looked as if we had stepped out of a bush.
Does having a partner involved in the arts help?
Yeah, and he’s cool about it, but I don’t let him come to my shows. If I asked him if my ass was as big as anything, he would say yes. He is a lovely boy, but very honest. I don’t want to know that my ass is big in anything. I want to lie all the way!
Camille O’Sullivan was at the Town Hall Theatre, Westport, Co Mayo, on October 29 as part of Westival and at 3Olympia, Dublin, on November 26; westival.ie; camilleosullivan.com
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/performer-camille-osullivan-david-bowie-said-not-to-let-your-feet-touch-the-ground-that-resonated-with-me-42029847.html Performer Camille O’Sullivan: ‘David Bowie said don’t let your feet touch the ground – that resonated with me’