Laoisa Sexton is an Irish actress, she studied drama in New York City, and has worked in Film TV and Theater in the US, Ireland and UK. She has recently relocated and now works out of Dublin and London. Recent TV: Red Rock for TV3/BBC. Laoisa has also written and performed in 3 plays that have all received their premieres Off Broadway New York, the 5 * NY Times Critics Pick: For Love & The Last Days of Cleopatra and The Pigeon in The Taj Mahal.
London Prestige Interview with Actress, Writer and Director Laoisa Sexton
London Prestige:What are you currently working on?
Laoisa Sexton: I’m producing, directing and acting in a short film that I also wrote. It’s called- “I didn’t..I wasn’t..I amn’t…” I am calling it an un–romantic comedy. I also just booked a role in an Irish feature next week called This Day.
London Prestige: What made you take this role?
Laoisa Sexton: The film is adapted from my debut play that I wrote called For Love- As an actress, I was getting sick of getting cast one way, so I wrote something the opposite way. I wanted to write myself something that was very layered and complicated… She is deeply flawed character but it’s very authentic.
I was always told as an actress make friends with writers, I would beg writer friends to write me an original role and occasionally they did- but it wasn’t enough, so I had a go myself…I write to act…
I don’t want to be a writer as such, I could never just do that- I find writing very hard it’s so lonely- so very isolating, it’s like acting in that way you have to dive in and cut yourself off…But I just want to get on set or on stage and dig in.
London Prestige: What journey does your character go on?
Laoisa Sexton: My character Bee, is trying to decide whether or not to get into an affair with a smooth talking, older, married man. He is very sophisticated, and she is very ordinary, working class woman in a dead-end job at the credit union. Her bossy Boss is trying to talk her out of it. The story sort of challenge is what is held up as morally appropriate and asks pertinent questions about the social contract of human endeavor in the paradox of modern life. It’s basically about a woman who makes all the wrong decisions … and why we make mistakes and keep making them again and again…
London Prestige: Tell us a little bit more about this film, what is it about, who else are you working with, and who is the director?
Laoisa Sexton: Well I am the director… Ahem… This is my first journey into directing, it was not something I really was thinking of. But I reckon I may as well, you know. I have written a couple of plays and you can get into situations sometimes with directors where they just don’t understand what you have written or want to interpret it a totally different way, and while it’s fine- there’s a lot of chat about it being a collaborative process, but if you are telling your story, you might as well tell the story the way you want it, not the way someone else wants it.
It’s also my first time directing- so I’d rather blame myself if it all goes pear shaped. I’ve got another short film that I intend to make straight after this one. So I reckon, if I fail with this, then next time I will “fail better“…It’s all hard work you know- and you can just try and maybe you will fail, but maybe not- Sure lookout, I can give it a go…
London Prestige: What is the most challenging role you have played and why?
Laoisa Sexton: Acting is about the human condition isn’t it- every role has a certain amount of challenges, big roles and small roles. Sometimes they can be emotional things you are working on that you find difficult to get around, or sometimes they can be technical things like- you are working in a massive theater and you need to know how to throw your voice the right way so the back row can hear you, or you need to learn how to twerk, walk in a fat suit, land after you’ve been punched… or avoid your leading man’s bad breath. .. you know -there are many things…I like to do things that I have not done before so I can go on a journey. I like to travel
London Prestige: Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?
Laoisa Sexton: I am not sure if I feel accomplished yet… I mean you’re never really there… and when you are you don’t even realize it half the time and then there’s the next gig…I just want to work and keep working… I suppose I’m proud of the plays I have written, they were all produced Off Broadway. Two of them received the much lauded 5 * NY Times Critics Picks.
I was very lucky to be produced by the legendary Irish Repertory Theater in New York- twice! I had worked there as an actress there before, but never dreamed they would produce this lil’ girls’ debut play… and then they did my third play too. Charlotte Moore is an incredible force of nature there and so is Ciaran O’Reilly, it’s a special place to be. Hope I get to be there again one day!
London Prestige: What training / education do you have? How has your training prepared you for you acting career?
Laoisa Sexton: I studied in New York, I did three years Drama Sandy Meisner program in New York City and a two year On-Camera Improv class- I love improv, it’s very freeing. I also explored some method stuff in New York with Actors Studio Alumni, that was cool, I liked it a lot- playing Lady Macbeth as a five-year-old child… “give me the lollipops” etc.
I think every actor needs training, I know some folk go straight into the business without it, and maybe that’s fine if they are really talented or super connected. But training gives you the confidence to trust in your own convictions and use your instincts in ways that you never thought possible- it frees you to make choices. I never had the money to go to NYU or any major drama school, I worked -paid my own way since I was 16, I did odd jobs to pay for my training. It was very important to me, because I always lacked confidence in myself. I am very shy, I get very nervous around people- wasn’t it Maggie smith said “We go on the stage to hide” I can relate to that very much
London Prestige: Is there any academy or professional in the field that you enjoyed working with that you would like to recommend in your city?
Laoisa Sexton: I loved Joe Paradise I worked with in New York, he is a member of the acclaimed Actor’s Studio in NY- he taught me a lot, mainly to trust myself. He’s wildly talented inspiring teacher and he loves actors who come with a strong g point of view and are prepared and who make brave choices. He taught many of the big ones- Kevin Spacey, James Gandolfini, etc. He is the kind of teacher that would never go easy on you, and I liked that, he would always want you- to want to be better, which is just the best in a teacher.
London Prestige: Who is your favorite director to work with and why?
Laoisa Sexton: I was very lucky to have worked with Philip Seymour Hoffman right before his very sad demise, he directed me in a play, so got to work with him for a few weeks. He was- as expected, the most creative soul, hardworking, diligent, brilliant man. He was in prep for a film at the time, where he was playing a violinist, so he would be at violin lessons at 6 am and then be at our rehearsals for 9:00am (with very sore finger tips!). That was a special time.
I worked with Des Kennedy, he is supremely talented Northern Irish director from Belfast, we did a play together some years back in NY that also went to Dublin. He’s super sharp, no flies on him. He is working on Harry Potter on Broadway now I think he is only brilliant. I have a massive wish list of film directors I’d love to work with- Andrea Arnold… William Oldroyd… I loved Lady Macbeth last year it was the best film I’ve seen in ages.
London Prestige: Have you ever considered branching out into directing or screenwriting?
Laoisa Sexton: Yes, as mentioned-dipping my toes in, as we speak… I have written 3 plays since 2013 and all three of them were produced Off Broadway, NY. I have a screenplay that I am currently working on called The Tour and another one called The Pigeon in The Taj Mahal (based on my last play) Big dreams ahead!
London Prestige: Where have you played a lead role? What was the character about?
Laoisa Sexton: I have played lead roles in lots of short films, and also lots of lead roles in plays. I have originated lots of roles in new original plays.
London Prestige: Do you have any theatrical experience? What plays have you performed?
Laoisa Sexton: Theater is very important to me, it keeps you oiled and focused. I will always do theater, even though it’s hard to sustain a living from it as an actor, but it is truly the most rewarding being in front of a live audience, and that connection you have with it, nothing beats that ride.
London Prestige: If you weren’t acting what would you be doing?
Laoisa Sexton: Ahem… maybe an astronaut or the female James Bond… something that kept me awake…
London Prestige: What have you seen lately that’s inspired you?
Laoisa Sexton: Actually, I just marched in Dublin for the Belfast rape Trial that was hugely controversial over here. It was extremely moving to see all these women and men marching for survivors of sexual abuse and women’s rights, in light of the recent #metoo campaign. Thousands of people were marching up these streets toward historical Stephen’s Green, where Constance Markevitz held the city during the Easter Rising of 1916. Irish women have been white washed from Irish history and it’s time for change in this country.
We owe a lot to the women of the Suffragette movement- we would not even have the vote, and Ireland is very backward in lots of regards especially when it comes to women rights. Speaking of voting, we have a big vote coming up in Ireland for Repeal the 8th and I think it’s more important than ever to do something rather than be sitting on Social Media, pressing like buttons and Retweeting. Everyone needs to get out there- show up and be counted for- mothers, daughters and sisters everywhere.
London Prestige:What television shows or show would you love most to be on?
Laoisa Sexton: Peaky Blinders, the women roles are great on that… Game of Thrones is over but… sigh!
London Prestige:What’s your goal for this year?
Laoisa Sexton: I want to get a bunch of short films made, so that I can get my features done. I’ve also just relocated too, so trying to get more established this side of the pond.
London Prestige: What is your advice for aspiring actors?
Laoisa Sexton: Always be present…do your work, be prepared… know that you will start over and over again many times… and just when you think you’ve worked hard, you will have to work harder…
Don’t do this unless you have to…. travel and do things… create your own life… Be Kind
London Prestige: Do you have a website, agency that represents, social media, etc?
Laoisa Sexton: My agency is www.reflectionstalentagency.co.uk
My film is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IDidntIWasntIAmntFILM/