‘Michelle’s ready to take on the world one swear word at a time’

Acclaimed Derry actress Jamie-Lee O’Donnell who missed out on the recent premiere in Derry due to performing on stage in Dublin, speaks about Series 2 of ‘Derry Girls’ and the character she plays, Michelle Mallon.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 7:34 am
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 8:35 am
l-r: Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn), Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan)

Explain a little about Derry Girls . . . .

Derry Girls is a coming of age story about a group of friends who are finding their way through life and their teenage years in the backdrop of the ‘Troubles.’ It’s a fun-filled comedy. We have lots of laughs and a lot of important relationships.

Explain a little bit about Michelle.

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

Michelle really thinks she’s maybe just a bit too big for the place she was born in and she’s ready to take on the world one swear word at a time. She’s really feisty, really ballsy, doesn’t really care about authority, just sort of up for anything and up for a laugh.

The first series was a phenomenal success. When did you realise it was going to be a hit?

After the first episode came out, the response it got right away. Even in the adverts, after the first half of the first episode, the response was unbelievable on social media and stuff like that. That’s usually the way people give feedback so after the first episode people took it to heart really quickly and loved it.

The show is now on Netflix internationally – how does that feel?

Civic Reception for Derry Girls Derry Girls' Saoirse-Monica Jackson (Erin Quinn) and Jamie Lee O'Donnell (Michelle Mallon) with their former drama teacher, Ms. Greta McTague, St. Cecilia's College.

I’m really proud of it. It seems to be going down well. I’m just delighted that a show, such a female-lead comedy and about Derry, is doing well across the world. It’s amazing.

Where you anything like Michelle as a teenager?

Not really. She’s pretty out there. She’s pretty boisterous and pretty crazy. I can’t believe somebody being still in school and not listening to any rules and setting things on fire. I wouldn’t have been that mad. I don’t think anybody was. I would have been quite outspoken but was nowhere near as mad as Michelle.

The show is full of music from the 90s. Do you like the music? Do you listen to it to get into character?

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

I definitely do love the music. The soundtrack is fantastic, it really is. Definitely the music I’m in to. We listen to music throughout filming and stuff as well – Nicola had a Derry Girls soundtrack she made on her Spotify while we were filming season one. So, it was always good to get into that and have a wee bit of craic.

Can you tell us about season two? Is it true it’s moving towards the period of the ceasefire and the Clintons’ visit?

Yes, the Clintons visit Derry. I think it’s just with season two everyone’s really gotten into the characters from season one, so I think Lisa sort of hit the ground running with everybody and it just sort of jumps straight in back where we left off with all the madness and the banter and the good times with the girls and the family.

I suppose there’s just plenty of madness through the six episodes.