Monday 23 September 2019

'It crashed and burned so hard - I left drama school without an agent' - Irish actress Valene Kane on forging career

Valene Kane
Valene Kane
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

Now best known for her roles in The Fall and Death and Nightingales, a career in acting almost didn’t take off for actress Valene Kane.

The 31-year-old, from Newry, Co Down, left drama school in London without securing an agent despite her driving ambition to be a star from the age of 11.

Since she was a child she had a fantastic imagination and used to dream up a world in her head that she was the leading lady.

“By 11, I had decided that I was going to be Anna Karina when I grew up. I was just weird looking; very unattractive, braces, terrible eyesight, so I had milk bottle glasses.

“It was an escape probably into a more glamorous world. I lived in my head,” she said. 

Aged just 14, she made the cut for the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, which boasts past pupils like Judi Dench and Carrie Fisher.

“I still don’t know how my parents let me do that; they were quite strict. It changed my life. Because I saw that it was a possibility. That I could go to drama school, the little girl from Newry could do this.” However her confidence took a hit when she failed to be booked by an agent during her studies.

“It crashed and burned so hard. It was really bad. I left drama school without an agent. That really was soul destroying,” she said.

While she is happily married to actor Ed Cooper Clarke, matters of heart were no better for a young Valene.

“I had this boyfriend, this love of my life, who broke up with me in third year. It was the worst. A year of ‘oh here you want another hit? Here you go. You want another one? This is it’,” she told Irish Tatler.

Looking back, she is glad she didn’t get her break to star with Jamie Dornan in psychological thriller The Fall until she hit her mid-20s.

“I think I am lucky in a way that it didn’t happen earlier because I don’t know if I would have done good work. I was a bit immature. Quite young, very green,” she admitted.

As she enjoys more and more success, featuring in Roge One: A Star Wars Story and in upcoming Sonja: The White Swan, her feet are still firmly on the ground.

“My girls from home who I grew up with, went to school with, are still my best friends. Without my WhatsApp groups, I would be in a very dire situation,” she said.


She has also come to terms with her anxiety, opting to meditate and avoid sugar to alleviate its grip.

“I think you get into your 30s, and you question everything. Am I doing the right thing? Do I want children? Is my relationship good? Am I living in the right area? And I found I that it was just getting worse. Simple decisions seemed like a huge thing,” she added.


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