Arts Q&A: Saoirse-Monica Jackson on Anna Burns, Julie Walters and missing gigs

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Derry Girls actress Saoirse-Monica Jackson

Derry Girls actress Saoirse-Monica Jackson
Derry Girls actress Saoirse-Monica Jackson

1. When did you think about a career in acting and what were your first steps into it?

When I was really young, about six or seven, my mum and I used to have these 'girls' nights. She would put my little brothers to bed and sneak me back down the stairs and would watch old films, such as Beaches, with Bette Midler. I can't tell you how informative films and actors like this were to me as a little girl. We would dress up, making loads of costumes and props from what was around the house, and do little performances. I remember the very night asking my mum “if I wanted to do that, could I be an actor when I was big?” Her reply was "if you want to then, of course you can". Those small special moments as a child I would say were really my first steps into acting.

I was then introduced to speech and drama and this then started to grow my love for a text and an understanding a performance.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

Busted, in Dublin, was one of my first concerts, when I was about nine. I was completely blown away by the atmosphere and being in a room with that many people. I got to wear this cracker denim catsuit and if I could still fit into it now I would never have it off – it was a real belter. When I was at drama school my best friend and I went to see Jay Z at The Manchester Arena. We just got the tickets on the day and they were like gold dust, so we were buzzing and his performance was amazing. Last year I saw Micheal Kiwanuka, supported by Celeste, in Copenhagen. Honestly, what a gig. I have to say getting me to answer questions about gigs at the moment seems strangely cruel. I MISS GIGS.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Definitely T. Rex. Imagine being able to have all that glam rock in your living room?

4. The record you’d take to a desert island?

T. Rex Gold, because that has Cosmic Dancer and Debora on it.

Saoirse-Monica Jackson, a fan of Anna Burns, Derek Cianfrance and T. Rex
Saoirse-Monica Jackson, a fan of Anna Burns, Derek Cianfrance and T. Rex

5. And the book you’d take?

A blank notebook, so I could write and draw. I would be fuming if I got stuck on a desert Island with a book I already read.

6. Top three films?

Educating Rita is probably my favourite film of all time. Julie Walters is my favourite actor and Educating Rita shows her in all her warmth, humour and glory. Next would be Blue Valentine, a cinematic masterpiece, in my opinion. It's just a simple but raw depiction of love uniting and disbanding. Derek Cianfrance's films always have that sort of evolving vulnerability through them. I would love to work with him some day.

Lastly, I would choose The Grinch at any given time of the year.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion but Into The Woods. I went to the toilet, went to buy more food, came back and Anna Kenrick was still singing about getting into the woods. COME ON, stop singing and dancing about it, just do it!

8. Favourite authors?

Currently Anna Burns. I ploughed through Milkman and Little Construction. Both deeply dark, but extremely funny. I feel like Burns isn't scared to say anything. Her books to me have this honest unwavering opinion about needles acts of violence, with such a dry sarcastic voice. I love them, No Bones is next on my list.

9. Sports you most enjoy?

I don't enjoy watching sports or taking part in them.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Anywhere in Donegal on the few nice days of the year we get.

11. Pet hates?

People eating with their mouth open, bedcovers with no buttons at the end and when someone doesn't take responsibility for what they've done. The injustice of it all really winds me up – or maybe that's just the Derry woman in me.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Homemade sausage roll.

Dessert? Cheese board.

Drink? Bloody Mary. 

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

I met Holly at drama school. She was kind and uncompromisingly truthful. I knew we'd be friends for life.

14. Is there a God?

Yes and she goes by the name of Shania Twain.

:: Soirse-Monica is a patron of the Cinemagic Film Festival which is running online at Cinemagic.org. She can currently be see starring in Urban Myths on Sky Arts. Erin's Diary: An Official Derry Girls Book will be available on November 12.