NewsNorthern Ireland

'Becoming a pirate helped me to cope with losing my baby'

Amanda Large as Captain Jack Sparrow
Amanda Large as Captain Jack Sparrow

Amanda Large has dealt with heartache in the most unusual of ways – by becoming a Jack Sparrow impersonator.

When the 43-year-old lost her beautiful baby boy Thomas at just three months old in 2010 her whole life fell apart.

Having had some existing health problems since birth, Thomas’s death was classified as Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy yet Amanda remains tormented by the lack of answers surrounding his shock death.

Overwhelmed by grief the mum-of-three decided it was time to re-evaluate her life. She left her career as a publicist and entertainment manager but still she felt incomplete.

Until she watched Pirates of the Caribbean last Christmas and her life changed forever.

While watching the film Amanda said she felt connected to the character of Captain Jack Sparrow, so much so that’s she’s now Northern Ireland’s only female impersonator of the character.

“I have always loved the sea, collected antiques and had a fascination with ships but when I watched Pirates of the Caribbean for the first time, I loved it, both the historical and mythical elements in the storyline. 

“But it was the character of Captain Jack Sparrow that totally fascinated me.  His style, attitude and how he is quite feminine in ways but still very much masculine,” Amanda Large said.

“After watching the film I went on to read the books where his character and background is far more detailed and portrays him as someone who is loyal, admirable, has strong morals who really is a pirate and a good man.”

“I did quite a lot of research into pirates and discovered that the pirate lifestyle is actually a ‘thing’ just like being a goth or an emo. Having always been a little eccentric in my dress and thinking I have never really felt like I fitted in to what is considered ‘normal’.

“Then I discovered this and I finally felt ‘this is it, this is me – I’m a pirate’ and it totally fitted in to what fascinated me and the connection I felt with Jack Sparrow,” she explained.

Amanda’s transformation into Jack Sparrow is fascinating to watch, she says she is living her dream.

“It is a lifestyle of freedom, doing what you want to do when you want to do it, being independent and not relying on others for your happiness. 

“It’s about living your dreams, having fun and enjoying each day and moment of your life.”

For Amanda, losing her son heightened all her feelings about living in the moment.

“After losing someone very close it really brings home what a precious and fleeting gift life is and one not to be wasted. 

“Pirates are open minded and non judgemental, so beliefs and values vary from person to person, I consider myself to have strong principles and morals so again Jack fitted in to that ‘role model’.

“I also love Jack’s sense of style. I already wore dreads so I began to add beads and antique trinkets to them as he does and dress in my own interpretation of what a modern day pirate would wear.

“It was fun coming up with my pirate style. I remember a few people said that I looked a bit like Johnny Depp but I didn’t pass much heed to it at the time. But after I began to take on Jack’s look it was said to me many times on a daily basis.

“Then when I was confirmed to be in the Belfast Pride parade I decided it would be appropriate to go all the way and actually be a man and it was such fun getting the whole costume, the facial hair done and other elements.

“It was a huge success and from that point on I wanted to be a Jack Sparrow Impersonator. 

Now Amanda is taking classes to help her perfect her act.

“I have begun voice coaching and acting lessons so that I will be able to not only have the look but the speech and mannerisms also,” she said.

“The mannerisms are coming along well but the voice is proving difficult as not only do I have to try to neutralise my strong accent but also try to disguise the fact that I am actually a woman. 

“At present I mainly do community and charity events but I want to pursue it properly professionally and with the fifth film out in 2017 I think that will provide many opportunities for me in the future.”

Find out more about Amanda Large’s Captain Jack Sparrow act at