Wednesday 21 February 2018

‘After Red Rock I’ll leave my comfort zone’

Like so many actors before her, Ann Skelly's sterling performance in a controversial storyline means she's ready for bigger challenges.

Ann Skelly from Red Rock
Ann Skelly from Red Rock
Joanna Kiernan

Joanna Kiernan

Ann Skelly (19) has always wanted to be screen star, so despite the fact that her family — who are originally from Killester — were living in Wexford, the then 15-year-old took it upon herself to travel to Dublin city by train every Saturday to attend classes at the Irish Film Academy.

A year later, Ann landed her breakout role in TV3’s hit soap Red Rock, which has seen her character Rachel Reid, front and centre of a controversial storyline involving a sordid affair with her friend’s father, Garda Sergeant Brian McGonigle, played by actor Sean Mahon.

“I feel like Rachel was kind of like me when I was 15, in a way,” Ann explains, “But then there have been some really overwhelming scenes that myself and Sean Mahon and my on-screen dad, Anthony Brophy, have had to do too and I think that experience of being pushed in that way is really challenging and it is exciting for me to test the limits.”

“TV3 really took a risk on me at the very beginning because it was my first ever acting job and when I auditioned, I was quite young. I was just 17,” Ann adds. “It was great to get a job so early on, but especially a role like Rachel and with such a big storyline. I was really just thrown in the deep end, which is the best way to learn. It helped me to develop a lot and very quickly as the show is really fast-paced and the reaction has been really good overall.”

The storyline of Rachel Reid, a 15-year-old schoolgirl preyed upon by the paedophile Garda Sergeant Brian McGonigle, garnered such attention in series one of Red Rock that his role was reprised for series two, which is now airing with McGonigle back reeking more chaos as he awaits trial.

Amongst a bevy of other dramatic events, this particularly controversial plot has been a major factor in the soap’s meteoric success, both here at home and abroad. Red Rock has been making a big impact stateside, following the award-winning soap’s US debut on Amazon Prime in a €1m deal for TV3.

Red Rock has also put Ann Skelly’s acting talents on the map, leading on to other roles such as her recent part in 1916 RTE drama Rebellion.

“It was really great to be a part of Rebellion; the 1916 Rising story is so close to many Irish people’s hearts, so to play a tenement girl was really great as my granddad, when he was quite young, would have lived in the tenements with his family, so it was kind of personal for me,” Ann says.

So what’s next for Ann?

“I would love to do something really far away from me and out of my comfort zone,” says the young star, who left school to prioritise her acting. “I love Al Pacino; he left school and slept on the stage he performed on and I just love all of that poetic ridiculousness. I think Saoirse Ronan is incredible too.

I love film and it is, of course, something that I would love to do, but I am not sure about the Hollywood ideal; I don’t feel like it is an end goal for me. I want to act until I am 90 and make good stuff rather than aiming for Hollywood success and fame.”

Catch Red Rock on TV3 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8.30pm


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