Former UCC student, actress Roisín O’ Neill stepped into the spotlight once again this month as she made her TV debut in TV3’s new six-part serial drama, Deception.
The Ballincollig native-who attended Coláiste Choilm and subsequently studied Drama and Theatre Studies here at UCC-first became involved in acting having been inspired by her fifth and sixth class teacher to join a local drama group. “I couldn’t look back.” She explained, speaking to the UCC Express recently. “I guess I’ve always kind of known (I wanted to act) but in the last few years I’ve been working professionally a lot more so it’s actually seemed more viable.”
Now living in Dublin for the purposes of being closer to auditions, O’ Neill has to her name a wealth of experience (particularly theatrical), and has been seen to play a diversity of roles, from Princess Jasmine in the Everyman Palace Theatre’s 2009 panto, “Aladdin”, to the tragic heroin addict Cassie in Philip McCarthy’s short film “The Dark Room”, which details drug abuse in the city and was screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
The twenty two year old landed the role of naïve teenager Emma Walsh in Deception when she was noted by its producer Hugh Farrelly during the casting process. A to-be medical student who lives with her mother, Colleen (Cora Fenton) in a post-Celtic Tiger housing estate in Galway, her whole life is turned upside down upon learning not only of her father’s true identity and brutal murder but so too the identity of the most likely perpetrator-Colleen herself. Asked if she had found it difficult to relate to her character, O’ Neill pointed out that it was “more about understanding the reactions rather than the situations”. “Everyone understands betrayal (and)…everyone understands what death is like and how devastating it can be.” She explained.
Speaking in relation to her fellow cast members-with whom she lived as well as worked during the five week filming period- Roisín described everyone as being “so nice” and acknowledges that she learned much from them whilst sitting and watching the filming of scenes in which she did not herself feature. “Everyone was really happy to give their time.” She added. “I spent a lot of time with Cora Fenton (her on screen mother), and she’d always be happy to run lines.”
O’ Neill’s response to the predominantly negative reviews which the show has received thus far is simple: “I read an awful lot of the stuff.” She admitted. “All press is good press.” As for the description of Deception as being ‘the new Love/Hate”, Roisín refutes it strongly. “I wouldn’t say that at all.” She said. “It’s nothing like Love/Hate. It’s not gangland, it’s not gritty…it’s far more domesticated…like an Irish Desperate Housewives.”
Asked if she had any advice for students who were considering embarking upon less secure career paths (in music, acting, art etc.), Roisín reflected: “If you really, really want something…you probably know that you’d be unhappy if you did anything else…it’s never too late to go back and get a proper career when you’re thirty…as a mature student, having given it a shot for ten years.”
UCC’s Department of Drama and Theatre studies is one of the most prestigious in Ireland. Originally established in 1986 as a post-graduate programme in theatre, it has since become independent from the Department of English and offers an impressive and full range in theatre theory and practices.
Deception continues this coming Monday at 10pm on TV3.