Our November cover star, activist and author Sinéad Burke, has met presidents, royals and A-list celebrities. Here, she explains the one trait they all share, and answers our quick-fire questions
Sinéad Burke is the November cover star and Guest Editor of Irish Country Magazine. In her interview, she shares the life-changing and pinch-me moments of her career – from trying on her very first piece of custom-made designer clothing (a Burberry trench coat), to walking the Met Gala pink carpet dressed in Gucci last year. Through her advocacy work campaigning for accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities, as well as the most marginalised and under-represented in our society, she has had the pleasure of being in rooms with some of the most powerful people in the world. From the royal family, to Barack Obama, to Cate Blanchett, Victoria Beckham and many more designers and celebrities. During her interview, Irish Country Magazine Editor, Klara Heron, asked Sinéad about what she has learned from those meetings – what trait do the famous and powerful have in common?
“I’ve learned the importance of kindness,” Sinéad says, “the people who I’m most impressed by, I’ve learned that what connects them is their kindness. I think sometimes kindness is considered similar to niceness, but I don’t think that’s true. I think kindness is an act of vulnerability. When you’re being kind you’re placing more emphasis on the person you’re being kind to than yourself, you are taking yourself out of your comfort zone and trying to create a space of collaboration or listening to people. Kindness is an act of bravery and vulnerability because it takes such confidence to be kind.
“I’m fortunate to be have been in rooms with very influential people and sometimes I find that intimidating and I think, coming back to how my disability shaped who I am as a person – I was always very aware when I was in school or going into a room for the first time that sometimes people wouldn’t know how to speak with me or what to say. And out of that not knowing would just avoid speaking with me, and I never wanted that to happen. So I began going up to strangers and saying, ‘Hi I’m Sinéad’, and that became really useful whether it was at the World Economic Forum in Davos or at a fashion show being like, ‘Hi I’m Sinéad, I know you from culture or the internet'”, she laughs. “And learning about receiving kindness and being a kind person is something I’ve really tried to develop within myself in the past few years.”
Seven questions with Sinéad Burke:
- The designer you’d love to work with that you haven’t yet: Issey Miyake
- Dream place to live: Los Angeles in the summer, Navan any other time
- Dream interviewee on your podcast, As Me With Sinéad: Jacinda Ardern
- Aside from your new children’s Break the Mould, one book everyone should read: Women, Race and Class by Angela Y. Davis
- Favourite person in your phonebook: My mother
- Most famous person in your phonebook: Jamie-Lee Curtis
- What should they name the film about your life: A Movement Not A Moment
Read Sinéad’s full interview inside the November issue of Irish Country Magazine, in shops nationwide now.