Claire Sweeney is sipping a cup of tea while gazing at the ocean from her hotel room in balmy Barbados with her eight-year-old son, Jaxon. It’s a moment of deep gratitude for the actress, whose Caribbean New Year escape has been three years in the making following countless Covid cancellations.
Claire earned just £5,000 during lockdown when the entertainment industry was decimated. But the former Brookside star has started 2023 more in demand than ever.
Since turning 51 last April, her career has soared with an unrelenting schedule that included starring in 9-5 The Musical and Proud Cabaret’s Cabaret All Stars, hosting her BBC radio show Claire Sweeney Meets and filming Channel 5 drama The Good Ship Murder with Shayne Ward and Catherine Tyldesley.
“I’m so grateful at 51 years of age to have had one of the best years of my life,” says Claire. “I’d sold my house in Majorca in 2019 a year before Covid so luckily had the savings from the sale to see me through, but it was tough. I’m just so proud that I’ve been in the industry for nearly 40 years and I’m still working and loving what I do.”
Claire lives with Jaxon in a four-storey townhouse in London that she bought for £1.2 million in 2006. She also has an apartment in Pimlico and two in Liverpool that she rents out. Her success comes not only from her talent but from her determination to provide for her son, who she shares with former IT professional Daniel Riley.
She became a mum for the first time at 43 and dubbed Jaxon her “miracle baby” after going through two miscarriages before his arrival. Claire and Daniel split just weeks before she found out she was pregnant, but have maintained an excellent co-parenting relationship. However, the star admits balancing single motherhood with work is still a daily struggle.
“From being in lockdown and spending 24/7 with my son, the adjustment of having to go back out to work has been hard,” says Claire. “Jaxon knows I’m a single mum and that Mummy is a provider so she has to work. It’s not just an ego ride, it’s a necessity, but I get mum guilt all the time.
“In lockdown, I was watching the news and Jaxon said, ‘Oh, Mummy, why is everyone saying this is the worst time ever? I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. You’re sat with me on the sofa watching Harry Potter and you haven’t got a suitcase packed to go to work.’
“I can get lost in trying to provide, but sometimes you’ve got to find the balance. The most important lesson I’ve learnt in the past few years is that it’s as important to say no as it is to say yes.”
Claire started singing in clubs at 14 and trained at the Italia Conti stage school. Her first big role was as Lindsey Corkhill in Brookside, which hit screens on Channel 4’s launch night in 1982 and ran until 2003.
She went on to become runner-up in Celebrity Big Brother before thriving in the West End as Roxie Hart in Chicago, then opposite Patrick Swayze in Guys And Dolls.
Since then, she has appeared in everything from Strictly Come Dancing and Loose Women to ITV’s Benidorm and BBC One’s Scarborough. There’s little room for dating, and while Claire is conscious of making time to find love, she isn’t yearning for a new relationship.
“I’m still single and I’ll continue to make time because I think it’s important to feel like a woman,” she says. “But I get all the attention I want from being on stage and I get all the love from my son. I have a great network of male friends, all my gay friends, so I don’t feel there’s a massive void in my life.
"If someone came along who’s great and enhances my life then brilliant. I want someone who’s interesting, makes me laugh, and who’s financially secure so I’m not having to keep them! But I’m quite happy and loving life.”
She was approached to star on E4’s Celebs Go Dating, but turned it down due to TV commitments. She adds, “I don’t know if I’d be too shy.”
Claire is in the best shape of her life thanks to hot yoga and Barry’s Bootcamp sessions. “I’m at an age where my hormones are all over the place. A specialist recommended hot yoga,” she explains. “I love it – it not only cleanses my body but my mind. When I do Barry’s Bootcamp I don’t kill myself or deny myself foods – it’s all about balance.”
She adds, “I love when I see people like Lizzo – I’m glad curves are back in and it’s cool to have a bit of a big bum. It’s healthy!” Claire, who’s followed diet plans in the past, says she can still feel insecure.
A brand ambassador for Footner Exfoliating Socks, she says her biggest insecurity is her feet but she has learnt to love herself.
“My feet are not the best feet because I’ve been a dancer for years – they’re knackered,” she laughs. “I wanted to get them looking nice in strappy sandals for Barbados and the socks are amazing. My feet are like brand new underneath.
“People did say I looked amazing in Cabaret All Stars, but I got changed with all the skinny dancers and felt heavy. But I’ve learnt to love my body and accept me for who I am. They were all so gorgeous, it would be easy to feel terribly insecure, but you’ve just got to know who you are.”
Claire Sweeney is brand ambassador for Footner Exfoliating Socks
Click here for today's top showbiz news
Missing X Factor star Levi Davis 'may have been kidnapped by British gangsters,' says PI
Inside Lisa Marie Presley's life in a quiet English village before tragic death
Robert Downey Jr looks completely unrecognisable on movie set as he rocks ginger curls
- For the latest showbiz exclusives, sign up to our daily OK! newsletter
Source: Read Full Article