Friday 22 June 2018

'He told me if I really want to impress him, I should perform naked' - Derry Girls star claims she was targeted by sexual predator

Derry Girls, Channel 4 (Nicola is on the far right)
Derry Girls, Channel 4 (Nicola is on the far right)

Aaron Tinney

DERRY Girls star Nicola Coughlan has revealed she was targeted by a sexual predator in her teens.

The actress said a "respected" director told her to strip naked if she wanted to impress him in an acting competition.

She said the traumatic experience was "barely the tip of the iceberg" of the show-business sex attack stories she has heard.

We can also reveal how Nicola recently prevented an assault on a young girl on a bus while other passengers did nothing.

Nicola recently made global headlines when it was revealed she is 31, yet convincingly plays 16-year-old Clare Devlin on Channel 4's Derry Girls.

Describing the approach by the creepy director she said: "I took part in an acting competition when I was a teenager.

Derry Girls cast
Derry Girls cast

"One of the judges was an older, respected director.

"I had a chat with him before about what the competition would entail and he told me that if I really wanted to impress him, I should perform naked.

"I was a kid, but no woman of any age should be spoken to like that by a man in a position of power, ever."

Galway-born Nicola added: "Trust me, I have a lot worse stories than that."

Nicola never worked with the director.

The diminutive blonde spoke about her run-in with a sleazebag director days after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke.

While her agent yesterday declined for her to speak to us further about the incident, she spoke of her trauma over the experience in a lengthy message posted on Twitter under the hashtag #GreyAreaNoMore.

The hashtag was used last year by millions of women around the world to share their tales of abuse in the wake of Weinstein's alleged abuses being revealed.

Millions of victims of abuse then began sharing their stories of sexual violence and intimidation using the #MeToo hashtag.

Nicola added her October 2017 post about being asked to strip by a leading director: "I just felt compelled to add my voice to the many brave women who've made themselves heard in the last week. #GreyAreaNoMore."

She also wrote after her post had been shared among four of her closest friends: "Overwhelmed by the bravery of women, both ones I know and ones I don't - you're my heroes."

Days after her post, she tweeted about the Weinstein scandal: "The men who are staying silent right now … what's wrong with you?"

And before she wrote about being targeted by the sleazy director, she tweeted an emoji of a nauseated green face alongside the message: "I once asked a guy about his weekend plans and he said, 'Seeing the female'.

"I thought he was talking about a move - he meant his girlfriend."

Nicola also used Twitter to shame passengers on a bus who did nothing to stop a young girl being abused by a mob of male thugs.

She wrote on October 29 about jumping to the defence of the youngster: "I'm an hour into a five-and-a-half hour bus journey and I've just finished my giant iced coffee when I find out the toilet is broken.

"The bus stopped: Yay! A bunch of terrifying drug addicts just got on and are sitting behind me now.

"So the police had to get called - this is the most unfortunately dramatic bus journey of my life.

"One of the druggies ended up threatening and eventually physically hurting the girl. Literally no one but me reported it.

"It is genuinely mad how many people just ignored it."

Nicola - famed in TV's Derry Girls for necking energy drinks - is represented by the London-based Curtis Brown talent agency.

The firm also represents actress Kaya Scodelario who made her name in Channel 4 show Skins. Kaya (25) also spoke out in October using the #MeToo hashtag about the sexual abuse she endured aged 12, telling the world on Twitter: "To everyone still suffering silently, you never asked for it. NOBODY DOES."

The Harvey Weinstein scandal first made headlines last October after the New York Times published sexual harassment allegations against him stretching over three decades.

Since then, more than 80 women including actress Angelina Jolie and model Cara Delevingne have accused him of abuse including rape, assault and indecent behaviour - although 65-year-old Weinstein insists the sexual relations he had were consensual.

Derry Girls has been commissioned by Channel 4 for a second series after the first episode racked up record-breaking viewing numbers. Over 2.5 million people watched the first episode, making it the C4's most popular comedy launch in five years.

Belfast Telegraph

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