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My People: Aidan O'Neill

We ask personalities about the special relationships in their lives

By Kerry McKittrick

The 34-year-old is originally from Coalisland and lives in London with his girlfriend Shamia Chalabi. Next week he will reprise his role as George Best in the musical Dancing Shoes at the Grand Opera House in Belfast.

My girlfriend, Shamia

Shamia is half-Egyptian and she normally goes by the name of Sham. She's an actress, too. We met through mutual friends and have been together for three years now.

It helps that we work in the same industry because she understands that I have to travel for periods of time. She's not the kind of person to sit around waiting when I'm away, though, as she has a great crowd of her own friends.

My best friend, Ryan

Ryan O'Neill and I met in secondary school. I was his best man and I'm also godfather to his daughter.

My parents, Breda and Aidan

My dad passed away when I was quite young, but my mum is still in Coalisland and is a retired nurse. I'm one of six: there's also Darren, Siobhan, Shay, Eithne and Louise.

We're a very close family for a couple of reasons. First of all, my dad passing away brought us all closer together, but now that we're older there are lots of nieces and nephews who keep us close. There are five girls and two boys so there are a lot of birthdays to keep track of. Recently I asked my mum if she was ever worried about me becoming an actor. She told me that she never had any doubt that I would be successful at what I do. Mind you, she has no problems letting me know if I'm not up to scratch!

Person I go to for advice

The one person I would go to for advice or a moan is certainly Sham.

Again, because we work in the same industry she understands what I'm talking about.

My mentor, Paddy

I've been fairly self-sufficient throughout my career, but Paddy Jenkins, who is a real stalwart of Belfast theatre, has always been a great friend.

We've worked together a lot and we're similar kinds of actors so he's been a great person to go to for advice. My ears perk up when he offers tips.

Paddy and the great John Linehan are always there with advice, followed by a mighty slagging.

My celebrity crush

I'm going to choose Jennifer Aniston, but from the days of Friends rather than these days. She's a fantastic comic actress.

Fantasy dinner party

I would invite Larry David, the comedian, because he has an amazing outlook on life.

Next I'd ask Dawn French as I find her really funny.

I am going to choose John Cleese, as I'm a bit of a Monty Python fan.

Finally, I'm going to choose Ellen Degeneres. She has an amazingly dry sense of humour.

  • Dancing Shoes: The George Best Story will be on stage at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, from next Wednesday until August 29. For tickets and information, go to

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