Follow your passions to be success, Girls Aloud's Nicola Roberts tells her Belfast audience of teenagers
Girls Aloud may be no more, but former pop star Nicola Roberts still knows a thing or two about achieving your dreams.
Her advice to an audience of around 1,000 teenagers in Belfast as they try to decide what they want to do in life was simple - follow your passions.
As one of five members of Girls Aloud - which also included Londonderry singer Nadine Coyle - Nicola enjoyed global success as well as 20 consecutive top 10 British singles, including four number ones.
Yesterday she told the young crowd at the Icons Festival that having a passion is "half the battle" to achieving career success.
Interviewed by Northern Ireland-born Radio 1 presenter Phil Taggart, she recounted how she auditioned for Popstars: The Rivals when she was just 16 years old.
She said that as a young singer she often felt vulnerable. However, she insisted that the young audience members allowed their careers to be led by what they loved doing and advised them to find out as much as possible about the industry they wished to work in.
Speaking backstage to the Belfast Telegraph, the 29-year-old star said: "Having a passion is half the battle. To get so many young people who wanted to come to an event and get advice for their future it is quite amazing. It's a good time to speak to them because they're young and fearless.
"On Twitter quite a lot of young people contact me saying they haven't found their passion, and that can be quite a scary thing. I was quite lucky I always wanted to sing but I might have felt lost if I didn't have that. Sometimes people only are introduced to the thing they are passionate about later in life, and that's OK too." Over the festival's three days, leaders from the worlds of technology, music and screen will converge on Belfast to speak at an event that hopes to inspire the next generation of icons.
Speakers will include hip-hop legend Chuck D, Hollywood producer Bill Daly, Jon Bradford, managing director of the TechStars, and Marvin Liao of Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups.
Lurgan singer Emma Horan said she hoped she can inspire others to be ambitious.
The 17-year-old starlet has built her fame by posting videos online and has become an icon for teenagers across the province.
Another young inspiration speaking at the event was BT Young Scientist Ciara Judge. The entrepreneur may be only 17, but already she has set up three companies.