Portarlington’s rising stars

Robert Sheehan may not be the only Laois name starring in big shows on our television sets in years to come, as three Portarlington starlets take their first steps into the world of showbiz.

Robert Sheehan may not be the only Laois name starring in big shows on our television sets in years to come, as three Portarlington starlets take their first steps into the world of showbiz.

Olivia and Gillian Daly from Killenard have been working with Elaine Hearty and Showstoppers Stageschool for the last four years. Most recently, 8-year-old Olivia filmed a UPC ad with Craig Doyle, which she is anxiously waiting to be aired on television.

Olivia started young, signing up to the stage school four years ago when older sister Gillian was enrolling. Since then she’s appeared on the Late Late Toy Show, an advertisement for strawberries in the papers in 2010, and she has also modelled on TV3’s breakfast show, Ireland AM.

Last month, Olivia auditioned for the UPC advertisement and was lucky enough to get a callback. Dad, Alan explains.

“We got a phone call to say she had been called back for a second audition, but then we got another phone call to say they liked what they had seen and had decided to use Olivia,” he said.

The ad was filmed in Kenilworth Square in Rathmines. For Olivia’s role, she had to run into her parents bedroom in her pyjamas and jump on her dad to wake him up, something which Olivia no doubt has practised a few times at home.

“The ad hasn’t been aired yet, they told us it would be on shortly but Olivia was very impressed with meeting Craig Doyle.”

The second class pupil in Killenard NS has a big day coming up very soon, as she will make her First Holy Communion, next month.

While sister Gillian has had a few TV appearances so far in Watch Your Language, ICE and Rumour Room, all on RTE television.

Both sisters are working their way through their stage exams with the famed London stage school - London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).

“Gillian just took the bronze medal exams on April 1 and we have to wait six weeks now for the results. There is bronze, silver and gold medals, once you pass the gold you can teach. Olivia just took the first set of exams, but we hope that she will follow in Gillian’s footsteps.”

Gillian is in her second year in Colaiste Íosagain in Portarlington, and recently reached the semi finals of an All-Ireland debating competition in Irish.

“Gillian would love to be an actress, but she is very good academically too. Showstoppers has been a wonderful opportunity for both girls. They have huge scope there to achieve what they want to achieve,” Alan explains.

Another Port family also has showbiz dreams. Five-year-old Lee Lee O’Riordan from Portarlington filmed an advertisement for Aldi recently.

But after giving over their home to boom operators, lighting crews, director and cameraman for a day, they later found out that Lee Lee’s ad would not be shown on TV.

“Lee Lee is only six months in the stageschool and this was her first audition. We were e-mailed a script beforehand and Lee Lee practised what she had to do. We went for a casting in a TV studio in Dublin. There was about 30 parents with children there on the day, but Lee Lee got a call back.

“They filmed it in our home, they had a dog, a paramedic, boom operator, lighting people, the director and cameraman,” Lee Lee’s dad Jasper explained.

After anxiously awaiting her big television debut, Lee Lee’s parents were told the ad wouldn’t be airing.

“We just felt they way they dealt with things was a bit insensitive. She was very excited to be on tv, she had told all her friends in school about it and everything. Luckily she was just excited to go along to the casting and play with the other kids.”