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People: Actress Kerri Quinn on her special relationships

By Kerry McKittrick

The actress (31) lives in Belfast with her partner Paddy McBride and their daughter Libby (2). She will be playing Sally Bowles in the Mac's production of hit musical Cabaret from next week.

My partner, Paddy

We've been together for four years but I've known him for about 15 years. We were cast in the same panto together four years ago and it just went on from there.

Paddy works in the civil service but he used to do a few shows years ago. He also plays guitar and records his own material. I think it helps that Paddy has been involved in the theatre – he understands I have long rehearsals and strange hours. The beauty of the job, though, is that once the show is up and running my days are free to spend with Libby. There's many reasons why Paddy and I work as a couple, not least because we're like chalk and cheese. He's more laid back while I'm a bit more higher maintenance. We're stronger now than we ever were.

My daughter, Libby

Becoming a mum was a shock to the system – she was a little surprise. I was doing the show Dancing Shoes, about the life of footballer George Best, up until when I was about seven months pregnant.

She's a wee dream. Of course, she can also be a little handful and she has every single one of us wrapped round her little finger, but she's so loveable.

My best friend

My oldest and dearest friend would be Heather Dunlop. We've been singing together for about 15 years, currently in the AM:PM Supperclub in Belfast. We met at an open call for auditions and hit it off straight away.

Another best friend is Joanna Kelly. I met her through Ten Square hotel, where I used to do the breakfast shift – I was there for years as they were great for accommodating my shifts when I was in shows. I have loads of close friends but those two are my oldest and dearest.

My parents, Cathy and Gerrard

My dad is a maintenance manager and my mum works in the civil service. I have an older sister, Roisin and a younger brother, Gerrard.

From the minute I came home from school and said I wanted to be an actress my parents knew I was serious. Of course, they were concerned about me being able to support myself but they have always encouraged me. If it wasn't for the support of my family I don't think I would still be working as an actress. We're a very close family, too – I see them most days of the week if I'm not talking to them on the phone.

Who I go to for advice

It's always going to be my mum. But there isn't one thing I wouldn't be able to turn to either of my parents about. They always have my back and are brutally honest, so if I haven't made a wise choice they'll tell me.

My mentor

Patrick J O'Reilly is an actor, writer and director, and he's actually playing the MC in this production of Cabaret.

He's a very good friend of mine but it's our first time acting together.

He's advised me and taken chances on me and even employed me in the past.

I would also like to choose my teacher from Our Lady Of Mercy Secondary, Mrs Meir, who is responsible for me being in the arts in general.

She taught me drama and it was she who said that this was something I should be doing as a career.

My secret crush... Peter Kay

When I was younger I was besotted with Michael Jackson. I shared a room with my sister and we had a big Michael Jackson mirror on the wall surrounded by posters. Now, though, it would more likely be Peter Kay – I love someone who can make me giggle!

My fantasy dinner party

My first guest would be my favourite actor, Sean Penn. I think he's so versatile – if you look at his filmography you can see he has a huge range.

Then, of course, I 'd ask Michael Jackson. Next, to have a funnyman, I would ask Ricky Gervais.

Then, I'd ask Judi Dench or Helen Hunt, who are my two acting idols.

  • Cabaret runs at the Mac, Belfast, from next Tuesday, September 16, until October 4. For details, visit www.themaclive.com

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