Inbetweeners Actress Comes Home
Jayne Wisener gives acting master class for young performers in Derry~Londonderry
'It’s amazing for me to be back here again, where it all began.' Four years ago, Jayne Wisener put Northern Ireland on the map in Hollywood by landing the role of Johanna in Tim Burton’s deliciously dark take on Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical, Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Now, the Ballymoney-born actress finds herself back home for the Millennium Forum Youth Theatre’s production of the same musical. And she is 'amazed' by the talents of the young performers who make up the cast.
'On Saturday last (July 30), I held an acting master class on character development with the cast,' says Wisener on opening night, as young actors buzz around her and cameras flash. 'So I was really eager to see how the finished production would turn out.'
Despite having a very busy schedule, the 24-year old decided to stay in Northern Ireland for a few extra days to see how the company's production turned out.
'In the end, I’m glad I stuck around to see it,' she beams. 'It was a great show. It was also interesting to contrast what I saw on stage with the film. What they do in the stage version is magical, really. I especially loved hearing ‘Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd’, which had to be cut from Tim Burton's film because it just wouldn’t have worked.'
Returning to these shores brings back some special memories for the Ulster star, who started out her career in amateur dramatics, performing in theatres across the country before being 'spotted' for greater things.
'Before the Master Class, the last time I was actually at the Millennium Forum was when I performed in West Side Story for Musical Theatre 4 Youth,' Wisener recalls. 'That was the play that got me spotted, and eventually led to me starring alongside the likes of Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman. So it’s kind of special for me to be here again.'
Wisener is also well known to young television viewers for her memorable appearance in Channel 4's hit comedy The Inbetweeners. The success of the sitcom has ultimately led to a movie version, which is set for release later this year, and Wisener has good things to say about her time on the show.
'It’s such a big, British cult comedy which everyone seems to be a fan of,' she says. 'The audition process was tough and gruelling, with quite a few auditions and call backs. But I was very keen to be part of it, so I kept going and it all paid off. It was a great thing to be involved in. I felt like part of comedy history.'
Better still, producers were happy for her to retain her regional accent in the role, and Wisener was happy to fly the flag for Northern Ireland. 'Most people I’ve worked with love the accent, and would prefer it if I’d use it in my roles. That is, unless the script says otherwise.'
Since landing that role, Wisener has gone from strength to strength – on both a personal and a professional level. She has recently gotten engaged; her latest movie, the independent feature by Alex Barret, Life Just Is, is in post-production; and she has an upcoming role in the Channel 4 community service superhero comedy drama Misfits to look forward to.
It's certainly a busy time for Northern Ireland's latest acting export, with plenty of jobs on the horizon to keep her busy and in the public eye. However, Wisener has some words of advice for aspiring actors: 'Even though I’m happy enough with the way things have gone,' she says, 'I’ve had to face a lot of rejection along the way. Everyone does.'
One thing’s for sure, though: she hasn’t left her roots behind. 'I’m still very close to my family, and I make an effort to come home whenever possible. Northern Ireland is where I’m from, and I can never forget that.'