Monday 26 September 2016

Parsing this Smart Blonde's big moment

Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30

SMARTS: ‘Fair City’ actress Sorcha Furlong, who helped set up Smart Blondes, Ireland’s first all-female production firm
SMARTS: ‘Fair City’ actress Sorcha Furlong, who helped set up Smart Blondes, Ireland’s first all-female production firm

It's a big few weeks for Fair City actress and fan favourite Sorcha Furlong, as she gears up for a huge storyline involving her character, Orla Kirwan. The future of McCoys, the Carraigstown pub where Orla works, hangs in the balance, and it will mean a lot of screen time for the actress, something she takes in her stride.

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"It's going to be an exciting time on set and I'm sure the storyline will cause a bit of buzz. Orla has been though a lot", the actress says on a break from filming. "There's long days for us, we're twelve hours on set. For me it's a job I love, but it's still a job. I'm a mother to a five-year-old as well."

Sorcha, 38, is a single mother to Stella, but she says she still has lots of help. "I have a load of friends who have grandparents helping them out. Even if you're not together, it's a tag team. I'm blessed in that I have amazing support. My mum is a big help."

Sorcha has said in the past that she might now be reluctant to uproot herself, as many actors climbing in their career are required to do, in search of new parts. "I suppose that kind of thing, moving away is a bit easier when you're younger, but at the same time, if a part came up that I truly wanted I would definitely work around it. In some cases you could be away two weeks, in some cases it might be two months. It would all depend on the scenario. If I want something I still like to go after it."

As well as being a regular on Fair City, the Carrigstown star is a co-founder of Smart Blonde Productions, which she set up with novelist Caroline Grace Cassidy and actresses Sarah Flood and Elaine Hearty. They established the production company to write scripts for women but the impetus partly came from family members and friend exhorting Sorcha to write down some of her more amazing anecdotes about pregnancy and life generally, and partly from the desire to work with some of her closest friends.

"Sarah and I knew each other from Fair City. Elaine and I knew each other from bands we'd been in. We all just started hanging out. Of course, there's competition in this business, you'd be a liar if you said there wasn't, but if there are auditions happening and one of my friends might be good for it, I'll always let them know. You have to have a degree of comaradarie."

Already the company has seen an unusual degree of success. "We wrote our first short in 2013 and it got accepted to the Galway Film Fleadh. We had another one the following year and it went on from the Fleadh to Toronto, where it was shortlisted, and was shown at Glastonbury and in San Francisco. We're working on our third project now and Tara Flynn and Morgan Jones are involved, which we're excited about."

Sorcha grew up in Lucan in Dublin and attended the Gaiety School of Acting as a child. After school, she had to choose between business and French in DCU or the Guildhall drama exams, but is happy she chose acting. Could she imagine herself settling into the role of stage mother if her daughter wanted to follow in her footsteps? "No. I'll support her whatever she wants though. My Mam and Dad were wary because it was a different world but there were some family connections. My mother's uncle was Joe Lynch, who played Dinny in Glenroe. He was great when I was starting out. But when I look at Stella, the thoughts of her one day leaving the nest and getting into something like acting, which can be precarious and you can get rejected, I'm not sure."

In the meantime Stella can watch her mother on screen. "The new storyline is without doubt one of the most challenging I've ever been part of", Sorcha says. "I can't wait for people to see it all kick off." Fair City is on at 8pm tonight on RTE1

Sunday Independent

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