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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-08-31 07:35:41

irish tatler jan/feb interview

janfebinterviewNEW
UPLOADED

INTERVIEW
She’s Ireland’s hottest new
talent and has been tipped
to follow in the footsteps of
Saoirse Ronan. We catch
up with Seana Kerslake, the
girl of the moment and a
star on the rise.

COVERstar

Dress (€1,160) by
Roksanda @ Brown
Thomas; earring
(€495) by Alexis
Bittar @ Loulerie

SceneS
48 IRISH TATLER JAN/FEB 2017

coverstar

She’s Ireland’s hottest new talent and ha s been
tipped to follow in the footsteps of Saoirse Ronan.

Shauna O’Halloran catches up with Seána
Kerslake, the girl of the moment and a star

on the rise.

Photography by Barry McCall
Styling by Corina Gaffey

Stealer
JAN/FEB 2017 IRISH TATLER 49

coverstar

Interviewing Seána Kerslake definitely feels like catching a rising for her drifting best friend’s impending wedding. Her portrayal of Mary
star on its ascent. She’s a cool, laid-back, open-minded Dublin girl and her many layers, from angry alcohol-abuser to tender lover and
who’s either generous with her modesty or genuinely has no idea heartbroken best friend, earned her the Bingham Ray Award for new
just how good she is. That’s not to say that the rest of the industry talent at the Galway Film Fleadh, while the production took away Best

hasn’t noticed; there’s some serious tongue-wagging going on about Irish Film, as well as stellar reviews from Variety, The Irish Times and

Seána’s talent in Ireland and beyond and it’s clear that she has been the Irish Independent.

marked out as a notable one to watch for 2017. Or as Ireland’s answer During that same month, RTÉ’s new, darkly comic drama Can’t Cope,

to Scarlett Johannson, if you will. “Yeah, a few people have said that, Won’t Cope was airing. Starring alongside another fresh newcomer

the Scarlett Johansson thing,” she laughs, when I remind her of the Nika McGuigan, Seána played the part of Cork gal Aisling O’Dowd

comparison that was made in news reports when she began hitting our and followed her downward spiral as she tried to cope with life in the

screens last autumn.“I personally don’t see it, but Scarlett Johansson is city: a big job, a rocky love life and alcohol-fuelled partying soon take

very nice and very talented, so you can only take that as a compliment, their toll. It was an instant hit, with a running Twitter commentary and

you know?” She says, pragmatically, adding, “But with a pinch of salt high profile praise for the writing and acting alike.

as well,” lest I think she was getting carried away with herself. With the two landing at once, Seána Kerslake became something of

Born and raised in Tallaght, Seána is one of three girls – her elder an overnight sensation, even though people were still only learning who

sister is a professional makeup artist and her younger is studying she was. “It’s been a strange enough experience, but a good one!” she

biochemistry at Trinity. She’s the first in the family to get the acting bug says of her new found fame. “It’s all been quite positive,” she admits,

and is an alumna of the hotbed of Irish talent that is The Factory – now but is keen to point out that it has been a flash in the pan, despite getting

called Bow Street since its relocation – a multi-faceted hub that offers praise from all corners. “It’s pretty flattering, all those nice things but

screen courses, has its own creative agency and is run by the best of the you can be consumed by that as well…You kind of just have to keep

best in Ireland’s film and television stalwarts. your head down and say, ‘Well, you’re only as good as your last job,

It was here that she ran into film- what am I doing next?’”

maker Kirsten Sheridan and got her Next is a return to the stage as she
reprises her role as Eva in From Eden
‘ S o m e t i m e s I g o : ‘ O h ,first break in Irish independent film
Dollhouse back in 2012. At this at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre in Dublin.
moment in time, dramag was still a that rol e isn’ t me ,’ b u t Concurrently, she is on a roll of
part-time endeavour for Seána. auditions lined up by her agents.“It’s

Casting Director, Nick McGinley, actually kind of terrifying but also
exciting because you have to keep
i t ’s b e c a u s e I ’ m a l i t t l ecame to her Friday evening classes
looking for actors to play teen yourself pretty available anyway for
tearaways in the film written and
the work that comes in,” she says of
s c a r e d o f w h a t t h a tdirected by Sheridan. Seána got the not knowing what 2017 will hold.

gig and was part of a cast that “I’ve got a manager and an agent in
the States and I’ve got a great agent
m i g h t a s k o f m e ’improvised nearly the whole script
during filming and had plot twists that here looking after me in Ireland and

were only known to some of the the UK; the work and auditions are

actors. Her debut performance was so good that she earned an IFTA coming in, it’s just a matter of time of what’s right and what fits.”

nomination for Best Actress, and it lit a spark for the young Seána who The dream, perhaps unsurprisingly, is to land a role Stateside in a big

was still completing her degree in English and Music at Maynooth NUI. budget television series. Television is holding its own in terms of appeal

“It was then that I realised that this was more than a pastime for me,” over the blockbuster movie for viewers and actors alike and it’s no

she says.“I realised there was this whole other world that I didn’t know different for Seána. “I think every actor would want a good TV series

about. There were so many jobs – a guy doing sound, someone doing – there’s so much good writing in TV at the moment. True Detective,

continuity – it made me realise that someone could have a career in Happy Valley, American Horror Story…you know, where actors get to

Ireland without being a superstar. It opened up so many doors and I come back and you have a long period of time to work with a character.

realised this was where I wanted to be.” But wherever there’s good writing, good directors, that’s where you

From that moment, Seána decided to take up acting training on a want to be.”

full-time basis at The Factory, mixing and mingling with some of Ireland’s In terms of what she would and wouldn’t do, there don’t seem to be

most talented actors, directors and writers.“It worked out well for me, too many boundaries – pushing out of her comfort zone is something

because that’s where Kirsten was based and that’s where I met all the that this young actor is signed up for, even if it is counter-intuitive.

other directors, like Lance Daly (Kisses, The Halo Effect), Shimmy “Sometimes I go, ‘Oh that isn’t me,’ but it’s because I’m a little scared

Marcus (Headrush) and John Carney (Once, Sing Street) who were all of what that might ask of me.At this point in my career, I wouldn’t shut

kind of living over there, all doing their work over there. And then it out any options and you never know what a project is until you have

just grew from that.” the full team around it and you don’t know really what it could be.”

By ‘it’ she means her real-life acting career that led to two roles in On the subject of teams, Seána is keen to attribute a big part of her

particular that propelled her into view – that of Mary McArdle (the success story so far to those that have surrounded her. Especially as her

lead in A Date For Mad Mary) and main character, Aisling, in Stefanie roles have all pushed boundaries when it comes to what’s expected from

Preissner’s hit show Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. a lead female part. “What’s great about the writing that I have been

Both required Seána to tap into very different skills as an actor and given – even from my first role in Dollhouse and in the play From Eden

while they were worlds apart in terms of back story and depth, both – is that they’re three-dimensional characters, they’re people, they’re

dealt with issues surrounding the societal pressures on so-called millenials human, they’re flawed, they’re funny and you can love them or hate

and tackled the harsh reality of excessive drinking in Ireland. Described them, all of those things.” Describing herself as a feminist, she

across the board as a triumphant Irish production, A Date For Mad acknowledges that meaty roles for women aren’t always as easy to come

Mary got sweeping good reviews when it hit cinemas in September by in bigger productions.And while she has been surrounded by strong

2016. In it, Seána plays a misguided young woman with anger issues female creators for much of her career to date, she also acknowledges

who has just returned from a six month spell in the women’s prison at that her feminist leanings don’t mean that she feels only women can

Mountjoy and is now faced with the task of finding a suitable plus one connect to this need for pushing gender-biased casting. “Can’t Cope

50 IRISH TATLER JAN/FEB 2017

COVERstar

‘It’s terrifying but also
exciting…I’ve got a manager and
an agent in the States and I’ve got
a great agent here; the work and

auditions are coming in’

Stripe top (€215) and was written, directed and produced by a woman, so it was very female-
trousers (€225), both by driven and has a very female eye on it. Mad Mary was originally from
Solace London @ Gallery a play written by Yasmine Akram, but it was adapted for screen by two
men, and it is so good because it’s so fluid and it’s very colloquial. It was
9; shoes (€45) @ River nice, I feel, that a man too can write something like that…it lets people
Island; necklace (€999) by – actors, writers, everyone – know that we’re all just human beings and
Zoe & Morgan @ Loulerie we can write for women and men just like a human because that’s what
we are. There’s not some kind of secret behind it, we all have the same
emotions, they just affect us in different ways.”

“I am very much a feminist, but then there are so many men I know
who would openly say that they’re feminists too, which is amazing, and
I’m very fortunate that a lot of the men I’ve worked with, in Mad Mary
and also in the theatre I’ve done, men who view women as their equals.
So the work you do with them, it never comes into question.”

Her vocality on the subject was heard recently at a Waking the Feminists
event, which came at the end of the year-long campaign to improve
women’s representation in the arts. It was brought about when Ireland’s
national theatre The Abbey released its full 2016 programme, featuring
just one play written by a woman and three directed by women. A viral
discussion online became a national, then international campaign that
culminated in major appointments on the board of the theatre. Seána
was asked to speak at the anniversary meeting, and it is a subject she
hopes will continue to gain traction.“I do think times are changing, that
there are more roles but still not enough and there are still far more parts
for men than for women. I think it’s changing a little bit but the
conversation on it is good – if we say‘Oh, now it’s fixed,’ then we’ll keep
having to strive for equality. “We’re speaking about equality now and
also diversity – in Ireland, I don’t think our screens and our stages are
that diverse, with different cultures and religions represented. So I think
there’s a whole world we need to explore.”

It’s clear that the world is also waiting for Seána Kerslake to explore
it too and many are predicting that it won’t be long before a big job
comes knocking on her door. At the moment, however, the Tallaght
native hasn’t moved too far from home and despite pulling off a mighty
Cork accent in Can’t Cope and auditioning on the regular in American
tones, her own turn of phrase has remained as Dub as it comes.“I think
if I lost my accent my family would have to take me down pretty quickly!”
She jokes, claiming that living a stone’s throw from her homestead has
helped keep her feet on the ground. “I’m still near them and they’d
definitely keep me in check.

“I do love Tallaght and I’m very proud to be from there – there are
some amazing actors and sportspeople from Tallaght so it’s a hub of
talent,” she tells me, without ruling out a big move if the right job came
along.“I definitely would move, but I think you can take the girl out of
Tallaght but you can’t take Tallaght out of the girl!”

And on where this Tallaght girl sees herself going next, the focus is
fairly clear. I ask her where she hopes to be speaking to me from in six
months time. “I just hope that I can barely take your call because I’m
working! Hopefully a nice film, a nice TV gig – I hope that I’m calling
you from on set during a break.”

I can’t help feeling that it’s a fairly solid prediction, not to mention
one that’s most definitely deserved.

JAN/FEB 2017 IRISH TATLER 51

COVERstar

Dress (€499) by Victoria,
Victoria Beckham @
Gallery 9

MAKEUP BY Celebrity
Makeup Artist Christine
Lucignano using
BOURJOIS
HAIR BY David Cashman
NAILS BY Pamela Laird
using Sally Hansen

52 IRISH TATLER JAN/FEB 2017


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