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My people: Actress Nicky Harley's special relationships

By Kerry McKittrick

The 31-year-old actress, producer and director from Londonderry will be playing Betty in Gulliver at the Mac Theatre in Belfast later this month.

My best friends

I'm very lucky that I have a group of friends I've stayed in touch with since we were all at Thornhill College in Derry. The core group is Niamh Fallon, Maria Jackson, Karen Howarth, Sarah Mahon, Colleen Tierney and Laura Tierney.

A lot of them have moved away and others have settled down with kids so we don't see each other that often.

We might not speak for six months, but when we do we just take up where we left off.

My parents

Mum and dad still live in Derry. My dad Brendan recently retired from the Civil Service, but he always played in bands, too. My mum Irene worked in retail for a while and spent the rest of the time looking after us - myself, my sister Kim and brother Dean.

Kim lives in Canada with her husband, but we keep in touch through Skype as she's one of my closest friends. Dean still lives in Derry with his partner and their two children.

We're a close family - if anything notable happens I'm straight on the phone to my mum and vice versa. I blame my parents for where I've ended up as they started signing me up for drama groups from a very young age.

This was before drama was taught in schools. They were always looking for things for me to get involved with. I saw my dad play Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1989 and I've been obsessed with the theatre ever since.

My mentor

I would choose a man called Tony O'Donnell who set up an amateur drama group in Derry. He's passed away now, but I would say he had been the mentor to a lot of people who have gone on to film and theatre careers. He brought structure to the art form for a lot of us.

He shaped my life and gave me pearls of wisdom at the age of 12 or 13 that I've always been able to apply to my career.

Person I go to for advice

That would be my mum. She's done it all and seen it all, and we're similar, so she can see things from my point of view.

Celebrity crush

I had a crush on Father John Misty - he's a singer-songwriter. I saw him in Glastonbury recently though and his dancing put me off a bit. I might need to find a new crush.

Fantasy dinner party

My first guest would be Wonder Woman. I always idolised her and thought she was cool. I also liked her costume.

Then I would ask the writer Dorothy Parker as she would be a good conversationalist.

Next, I would invite the director, Shane Meadows, as I love his work.

The final guest would be my late granny Gracie.

She was a class woman and would give them all a run for their money if they got her stirred up.

  • Gulliver will be on stage at the Mac Theatre from September 29 until October 17. For information go to

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