Belfast Telegraph

The Apprentice teen mum Grainne McCoy says son Ryan comes first

By Ali Gordon

Teen mum Grainne McCoy is using her experience on The Apprentice to give her son the best life possible.

The businesswoman from Dromintee, near Newry, gave birth to 15-year-old Ryan when she was just 16.

“I’m so lucky because kids at that age are usually hard to handle but he’s so laid back and chilled and he knows now that everything I have done over these last few years has been for him,” Grainne told Sunday Life.

“Every single day is for him, even now.”

Make-up artist Grainne is now down to the final nine of BBC’s The Apprentice and, with only four episodes left, is edging closer to securing a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar.

But it’s taken the 31-year-old a lot of hard graft to get to this point in her career.

She said: “My dream has always been to have my own make-up brand and have a team of girls working for me and, ultimately, just do the best I can for me and Ryan.”

When she was 20, Grainne  managed Aldo shoe shop in The Quays shopping centre in Newry. After a production company came to film a new advert at the mall, Grainne got talking to the make-up artist on set and decided on a career change.

She worked her way up the make-up counter ranks before becoming manager for Laura Mercier in Belfast’s House of Fraser, and later going to Dublin to teach make-up artistry.

But an opportunity to work on a film in Londonderry led to work in London and soon she had set up her own company, specialising in film and TV.

She said: “I used to work on films in England, finish at 7am and get a plane straight home to spend 20 hours with Ryan and then go back.

“It wasn’t easy because most of my money was going on travel and rent and I had to eat Sainsbury’s meals for £3 every day, but it’s paid off in the end.”

Grainne’s mum, Siobhan, looks after her son Ryan while she’s away with work, but when she’s home she has a self-built make-up studio at the back of her mum’s house.

“I couldn’t have done it without my family,” she said.

“I would be so lost without them. It must be an Irish thing that we talk to our mothers 6,000 times a day, but I have to.” After applying for The Apprentice, Grainne’s life has changed in more ways than one.

“I stopped drinking at the start of the year because I wanted to change something and then I went onto The Apprentice and didn’t bother going back on it.

“To be honest, I don’t miss it at all. I used to feel like I needed to have a drink even before you leave the house, but you don’t.

“I’d have got a carry-out and then we’d have gone out — it was like a confidence thing. Now I’m going to all these events in London, usually on my own, and I’m sober as a judge and talking to everyone. You remember everything and you meet loads of people, it’s great.

“I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I feel a lot better for it, definitely.”

Attending events in London has introduced Grainne to loads of exciting people, from actors to presenters to reality TV stars.

“It’s so strange now because I thought it would only be people locally that would recognise me but I was walking through Victoria station in London last week and I must have been stopped seven times.

“I was always at big events with work and would have been out with a lot of people from TV so I understood what it was like, but you really do need to be thick-skinned and be ready for anything.

“People try to find everything out and next thing you’ll read that I’ve been drunk at the weekend or something, which is wrong because I don’t drink.”

But Grainne admits there were some things she just couldn’t prepare for.

“The first episode of The Apprentice I watched, I was totally cringing. It was like when you send a voice note to someone and you think to yourself ‘do I actually sound like that?’, but I’m quite enjoying it now.

“I’ve never realised that I do so many facial expressions, though, but the more I see them on the telly, the more I notice it.

“My facial expressions have become the talk of Twitter.

“Firstly I was getting called the Ice Queen because of the stern look I have, but now it seems people tweet about everyone I look at.

“Ryan has been getting loads of messages too, especially from girls, and I’ve also been doing talks in schools so a lot of them know him.

“But I’ve told him, he’s never having a girl. He’s my baby!”

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