‘I’ve had to ignore people’s advice and trust my own instincts’ – James Kavanagh’s secrets to success


James Kavanagh
James Kavanagh
James Kavanagh launching Virgin Media’s Drive-In cinema which will be coming to Wexford, Wicklow, Dundalk and Ennis this summer. Picture: Brian McEvoy
John and James Kavanagh with their mother Margaret. Picture: Mark Condren
James Kavanagh in Phibsboro. Photo: Frank Mcgrath
James Kavanagh at the TV3 Spring 2018 Season Launch at Robertas
James Kavanagh and William Murray have a successful food business called Currabinny Food, named after William’s homeplace. Photo: Tony Gavin
James Kavanagh at Brown Thomas Dublin Autumn Winter 2018 International Designer Collections. Picture: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

The key ingredient to success is to “just put your blinkers on” and trust yourself, according to social media star James Kavanagh.

Kavanagh’s rise to fame has been meteoric, he turned what was essentially an off the cuff comedy routine on Snapchat into a lucrative career with a number of brand partnerships and a burgeoning path into presenting.

“I’ve had to ignore so many people’s advice on my journey because I trust my own instincts, and it’s worked out better,” he told Independent.ie.

“It’s about having a trust in yourself – to either make the job move, or leave it- you kind of just have to shut off from everyone else, put your blinkers on and trust your guts.”



James KavanaghJames Kavanagh

James Kavanagh

He emphasised the importance of self-confidence and like all successful entrepreneurs, not to be afraid of taking a risk – which, for James, included leaving a full-time position in public relations to pursue building ‘Brand James’ full-time in 2016.

“Self confidence is the key. It’s all about finding your inner self confidence and taking risks,” he explained. “I don’t know anyone who is successful who hasn’t taken big risks.

“I was working elsewhere for about six years, and I just got on to Snapchat and just started to have the craic on it. I had no idea it would enable me to have an actual career. It’s mad.”

The most impressive part about Kavanagh’s rise has been his ability to effortlessly work across mediums, which, most recently, came in the form of a presenting Ireland’s Got Mór Talent on TV3, the sister programme to the network’s runaway hit this year.



James Kavanagh and William Murray have a successful food business called Currabinny Food, named after William's homeplace. Photo: Tony GavinJames Kavanagh and William Murray have a successful food business called Currabinny Food, named after William's homeplace. Photo: Tony Gavin

James Kavanagh and William Murray have a successful food business called Currabinny Food, named after William’s homeplace. Photo: Tony Gavin

“One moment I’m filming in my bedroom, the next I’m being offered a TV gig, just because of my social media stuff,” he said.

“That’s probably the strangest thing that has happened to me. When they offered it to me, I was like, are you sure? I have no experience on this kind of thing!”

However, switching from a phone screen to a TV screen was not easy, and Kavanagh said that he was “nervous” during the transition.

“It was quite difficult. It is just myself and my phone and all of a sudden, there’s a team – a producer, director, and a co-host,” he said.



James Kavanagh launching Virgin Media's Drive-In cinema which will be coming to Wexford, Wicklow, Dundalk and Ennis this summer. Picture: Brian McEvoyJames Kavanagh launching Virgin Media's Drive-In cinema which will be coming to Wexford, Wicklow, Dundalk and Ennis this summer. Picture: Brian McEvoy

James Kavanagh launching Virgin Media’s Drive-In cinema which will be coming to Wexford, Wicklow, Dundalk and Ennis this summer. Picture: Brian McEvoy

It’s this multi-tasking that has made him one of Ireland’s premier influencers, and his star power is on display as he is regularly stopped by fans, usually teenage girls, wherever he goes.

“A girl came up to me when I was DJing at Longitude and she started crying,” he said. And I was like, oh my god, I’ve never had someone cry when they meet me before!”

“I’ve had people show up to my house. I’m always filming around my house and stuff, and a lot of people have figured out where I live. Sometimes I get stuff sent to me from followers- like handmade drawings.

“I’m a big collector of candelabra, and one day these two girls showed up to my house with a giant candelabro. They showed up and gave me this gift, and I was like, ‘Oh my god! It’s so nice of you to think of me that way!'”

One person who has grown increasingly comfortable with his newfound fame is his long-term boyfriend William Murray, who regularly appears in his feed.

“He’s really shy-he was a bit taken aback cause people would come up to him on the street and whatever,” he said.

“But he understands now that it’s all for the greater good and he’s gotten a bit more confident as well, he’s not as shy anymore.”

In fact, the duo have launched their own food company Currabinny and will be launching their own eponymous cookbook in October.

The 29-year-old’s latest project is to head off on a road trip to four towns –  Wicklow, Wexford, Dundalk and Ennis, where he will be quizzing locals on their movie knowledge.

The road trip is scheduled for August, ahead of Virgin Media’s Drive in series – which will bring the cult classic ‘Grease’ to drive in screens in towns across the country.

“I always wanted to be one of the pink ladies,” he laughed.

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