Amy Huberman on reading, people pleasing, saying no and decorating. Oh, and prawn crackers
30th Jun 2019
For Edaein O’Connell, the opportunity to interview author, actor and designer Amy Huberman was a pure fangirl moment. What followed has only cemented the feeling…
Have you ever heard the words Amy Huberman and prawn crackers in the same sentence? Well, now you have. Because that is forever what I will associate her with, but in the best way possible.
On a gloriously sunny day in Dublin, I walked straight into its human equivalent in the form of Amy. She fanned herself, while I fangirled. She offered me prawn crackers. I told her about my new phone which can only be bought in China or Ali Express, but one which I managed to track down on German Amazon.
Not your normal everyday conversation but then again, Amy isn’t your everyday girl.
Interviews are a tricky game. It’s just like sticking your hand blindly into a tin of Celebrations; will you get the joy of a Malteasers or the horror of a Bounty?
Thankfully, Amy was very much the former. She has a way of instantly putting you at ease and lets conversation rattle on.
Refreshingly honest, there wasn’t a question she shied away from. Each one was embraced, considered and opened in a way completely unique to her. She was warm, relatable and self-deprecating in the best way possible.
Not your normal everyday conversation but then again, Amy isn’t your everyday girl.”
The actress/author/designer was spending the day promoting the Diet Coke Book Club which hopes to get the nation reading during the summer months through events and social media. Amy is, as she says herself, “someone who loves books”.
“Audible has been a revelation for me because I wasn’t getting to read everything I wanted to read.”
How to fail
One of the books she is reading for the club is Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail which relates to Amy’s own personal story of becoming an author herself. “[Becoming an author] came through one of my failures of being an unemployed actress in London going ‘oh good God, how am I going to feel like I have some control over my life?'”
I’ll just show up and write 1,000 words a day and even if it comes to nothing.”
So, what was the process like? “I would write every day for about two hours. I was, like, ‘I’ll just show up and write 1,000 words a day and even if it comes to nothing I’ll have kept myself sane in a time when I had no work’. I didn’t know if I had made the right career choice. I didn’t know when I was going to get a job again.”
The first book was Hello Heartbreak published in 2009. Amy still sees it as a career high. Her second, I Wished For You, was released in 2012. The latter was written under a deadline, alongside an influx of acting jobs and pregnancy, which she believes made the process slightly harder.
Two books later, she made her way into the world of screenwriting with the hit show Finding Joy which she stars in too. As a writer myself, I know how jarring it can feel to have your work out there for everyone to see. These words come from a place inside which others don’t know and this can leave you feeling vulnerable. I was interested to know if Amy felt the same, particularly towards a show which she writes and stars in herself.
Related: Amy Huberman on ‘Finding Joy’
“I felt like my brain was streaking down the middle of the street. It’s like that’s what is in there! I really loved it but then when you finish, it’s just the start of another journey – the one where everyone sees it. And that is really scary, especially when you have poured your heart and soul into it.
“With books, there’s a distance but with the telly, it’s different because I’m also in it. There is nowhere to hide.”
There are still times where I over squash my diary and pay for it because sometimes you can’t say no.”
With everything in her bag of tricks, how does she balance it all? She’s quick to point out that looks can be deceiving and each aspect had its own time to breath.
“I sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud when people say that. I think when you say it all together it sounds mad, but these things have happened over a number of years.”
However, when times do get busy she has learned to take care. “I’m careful now but there are still times where I over squash my diary and pay for it because sometimes you can’t say no and there will be a period where it is very busy. But I make sure to clear time after that and take on very little. You can burn out.”
The inability to say no is the old female adage and one which Amy herself dealt with for years, but nowadays she has learned the skill. “I say no to things that I know won’t work because there’s only so much I can do. There was a time where I would have been like ‘I need to be doing this, this and this’. Now I don’t because I want to enjoy it.”
It’s something, she believes, we all need to become more mindful of saying: “We put ourselves under so much pressure, and people can burn out so quickly and easily. And I know we all have responsibilities and I know I am so lucky to love what I do, but it’s giving ourselves a break if we can. It’s so hard to go full pace all the time. In my twenties, I wanted to hoover it all up, but now I am like no. I know my limits.”
And what advice would she give to 16-year-old Amy on the verge of moving into early adulthood?
Anyway no one actually gives a sh*t what you are doing.”
“I think for me it would be to stop the people pleasing. I was guilty of it. And having more conviction in the stuff that makes me happy, and I don’t mean that in a selfish way. I just expended so much energy into ‘oh I hope that others approve of this and they approve of that’.”
“To a degree, I will always be that but, at the same time, I wouldn’t have got to the stage I’m at now without caring a little less about what others thought. And anyway no one actually gives a sh*t what you are doing.”
My colleagues had warned me to not forget to ask her where she was buying her interiors for her new home. She told me Etsy, vintage and things they had in their house already. However, the dream is those cool gallery walls that Instagram people do so well, but something which she can’t. With the knowledge I needed to bring back to IMAGE HQ, I walked out the door laughing.
Because with Amy, that’s what you do. Laugh, a lot.
And eat a few prawn crackers while you’re at it.
Read more: Find joy everyday
Read more: Amy Huberman’s is IMAGE guest editor
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