Saturday 16 December 2017

London Calling: Diana Bunici's fresh start

On the face of it, Diana Bunici had the dream life for a 26-year-old in Dublin: a career in TV presenting, a rock-star boyfriend and family and friends around her.

But the Moldovan-born beauty was never going to be content to be a big fish in a small pond. In the last few months she's moved to London, started writing a children's book and is playing the networking game. "It's going really well", she told the Sunday Independent last week. "I was going to go to New York but since London is so close and I can travel back and forth for work at home I thought it would be better."

She fronted RTE children's TV show Elev8 for five years but says she's ready to leave the world of kids' TV behind her. "Yes I'd love to work in programming for a more general audience but at the same time I wouldn't rule anything out either. It would be a dream to front a series of documentaries. I'm a big fan of Louis Theroux and Stacey Dooley - to follow in their career paths would be incredible. I'm also doing reports for Irish TV - I did reports about St Patrick's Day. I'm contributing a couple of reports a month."

She's also in talks with publishers about her book. "It's about making dreams come true for the 12+ market. If you want to be an accountant there might be a set path but supposing you want to be Hozier - what then? I'll be compiling interviews for it."

So will her boyfriend, Kodaline rocker Steve Garrigan, be contributing to the book? "Well obviously he's very creative and he's worked very hard to get to where he is - the success of the band was 10 years in the making really, going back to You're A Star back in day. It would be an honour to have him included in the book. I'm sure that if I asked him nicely he'd do it."

They see each other as much as they can. "When he's not busy gigging and promoting he's back home in Swords. He's over here a bit and we get to hang out which is cool. I've been over a few times in the last few months too."

Diana has an example to look up to in terms of immigrant success stories; her parents moved from Moldova to Ireland in 1992, when Diana was eight, and worked hard to give her and her brother a better life. "They left behind everything and had to adapt to a new culture, a new language", she recalls. "I have memories of not being able to speak English. My dad was a mechanical engineer in Moldova but in Ireland he worked during the day in construction and he'd get home at 7 or 8 a night, depending on how far away the construction site was - he walked to save money on bus tickets. And then, after hanging out with me and my brother for a little bit, at a crazy hour of the night he'd go and work in a fish and chip shop. In Moldova, my mother had been a doctor in the emergency room but she worked many jobs in Ireland in restaurants, and she worked for Superquinn for a while."

Growing up, Diana loved creative writing and from an early age harboured ambitions to become a journalist. "In fourth year I went to The Star newspaper and FM104 and in my final year of college I did work experience in TV3. That was great because I got to see what a real TV environment was like and when I started in RTE I was able to give it my best. When you work with kids you can't control what happens: a kid threw up live on air, a child peed herself live on air! Luckily it happened toward the end of the show."

Aside from pitching herself to producers she's also stepped into the producer role herself for Irish TV. "It's nice to step into the producer role", she says. "I had a taste of it working on my 1D documentary two years ago but this is a very exciting new challenge!"

Donal Lynch

'Out and About in the U.K.' airs Wednesdays at 8:30 on

Sunday Independent

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