Local actress talks Derry Girls, Brian Friel ... and Bridie’s chips!

'Derry Girls' star Saoirse-Monica Jackson who will appear in 'Three Sisters' at Lughnasa FrielFest in August.
'Derry Girls' star Saoirse-Monica Jackson who will appear in 'Three Sisters' at Lughnasa FrielFest in August.

Saoirse-Monica Jackson has proven her true ‘Derry Girls’ credentials by admitting she loves nothing more than coming home and ‘eating Bridie’s chips’.

The actress, who plays the lead character, Erin, in the hit Channel 4 comedy, is still ‘buzzing’ after the show claimed the ‘Radio Times’ Comedy Champion last week.

l-r:  Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn), Orla McCool (Louisa Clare Harland), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson)

l-r: Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn), Orla McCool (Louisa Clare Harland), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson)

‘Derry Girls’ clinched the title following a neck and neck online voting battle with Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s ‘Inside No 9.’

Saoirse will make her way home next week to appear at a rehearsed reading of ‘Three Sisters’ at the 3rd Lughnasa FrielFest.

She told the ‘Journal’ she is ‘so excited’ to be taking part in the festival.

“I am playing Irina in The Three Sisters. It is a part that I always wanted to play because I love Chekov and Friel’s translation of his work as well.”

It will be a very different role to what many viewers of ‘Derry Girls’ will forever associate her with.

“I never really expected to go into comedy but ‘Derry Girls’ has opened so many doors for me, I just never expected it, but I really, really love comedy.

The Three Sisters is a tragicomedy. These women have no idea they are funny in a tragic way.”

Saoirse-Monica will be co-starring in the play with her fellow ‘Derry Girl,’ Jamie-Lee O’Donnell.

“I am really looking forward to it because we work together so well. It’s something completely different to what we have become known for. Jamie-Lee plays the character of Natasha and it’s a very fitting part for her. She is a brilliant actress.”

Saoirse-Monica’s career has really taken off in 2018 with the success of ‘Derry Girls’ and her first stint treading the boards at London’s West End.

She appeared in a six month run of ‘The Ferryman’ written by Jez Butterworth - who will also be appearing at an event at FrielFest - and directed by Oscar winner, Sam Mendes.

“I certainly enjoyed the experience. There are a lot of similarities between Jez’s work and the work of Brian Friel. He actually spoke a lot of Brian Friel being an inspiration.”

Saoirse-Monica’s run on the West End coincided with ‘Derry Girls’ airing on TV, when everything was ‘going mad’.

“It was mental to be on the West End for the first time and to be in popular TV show as well. I wasn’t able to watch ‘Derry Girls’ because I was on stage, but when I came off and checked social media it was like: ‘what has just happened?’”

“You do a job, hope everybody likes it and then you move onto another job and that is your focus. I never expected it to be so popular.”

Saoirse-Monica said she sees her co-stars ‘a lot’ and they can’t wait to start filming series two of ‘Derry Girls.’

“We are so excited to see what Lisa has got in store for us,” she added.

The actress credits the writing of Lisa McGee for making the show such a success.

“We all knew that Lisa’s writing was amazing and, being from Derry, she captured people so well, she really hit the nail on the head. It has a great outlook and it is something that hadn’t been done before.”

“I thought it would be successful, but I never expected it to translate to the way it did in England.”

The actress said she is shocked by how quickly the show has become part of popular culture.

“I get ‘catch yourself on’ shouted at me as I’m going through airports and even by businessmen as I’m walking through Leicester Square in London.

“Oh my god that is weird.

“But it’s brilliant to see that people connect with the show that well and get it. People are starting to see us as our characters.”

She said the show had opened so many doors for her and she is so proud it was all about her home city.

“It’s great that it’s about Derry beacuse I am from there; this is my accent and it’s really proof that people love the accent. It’s also showing other actors with regional accents that it doesn’t matter where you are from.”

“I am proud of where I’m from. My mum and dad have commented that before, I was never really able to come home. Anytime I booked a flight I would get an audition or land a job, so I’m lucky that work is bringing me home this time.”

Saoirse-Monica said she loves nothing more than getting back to Derry.

“Never did I expect, when I graduated from drama school, that that would be the case. I love getting home; I love staying in my granny and granda’s house and love eating Bridie’s chips.” she laughed.

She has other projects lined up which she can’t talk about just yet. For now her focus is on FrielFest.

“It is a fantastic festival. There are some really talented actors taking part and the setting is absolutely beautiful. We have some of the best scenery in the world and to have live theatre performed on Shroove Beach and bang on the border - you just can’t miss it. It will be one of those things you will always remember.”

‘Three Sisters’ is at the Foyle Arts Centre on August 18 and 19. The 3rd Lughnasa FrielFest runs from August 9 to August 19 and tickets are available at www.artsoverborders.com