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Sunday 19 August 2018

This star won’t fade

Life on Fade Street has been kind to 23-year-old beauty Louise Johnston, who tells Anna Coogan how her studies come first

There's no doubt a star is born, following Clonskeagh girl Louise Johnston's role on RTE's reality TV show Fade Street. It's not only that the camera loves her sculpted good looks, but that the 23-year-old is savvy enough not to pretend to be anyone other than herself.

In spite of being followed by cameras everywhere, there has always been a feeling that Louise is being honest about who she is, and the young southsider confirms she is happy with how she has been portrayed in the reality series so far.

She's sharp, ambitious, hard working and ultimately friendly on Fade Street. Yet it's her common sense that shines through, suggesting she will have a durability in TV land. Meanwhile, her incipient stardom is in her ordinariness and how, in spite of being gorgeous and glamorous, she readily admits to being worried about her college exam results.

"I'm waiting for my Christmas exams results and really hoping I get what I want," says the fourth year UCD economics student. "I've put a lot of work in and it's important to me I do well as this is my final year."

While we wait for RTE to confirm if another series of Fade Street is coming our way after the upcoming final three episodes in the current series are aired, it's unclear if Louise's guaranteed media career is set to continue immediately.

For starters, the star, who lives with her mum and sister, is aiming for more independence. "I'd love to share an apartment for real with Vogue and Cici," she says.

Regarding her third apartment mate Dani, with whom she reportedly had a falling out during filming, she says: "Dani has completely different interests to me."

She has not allowed the cameras to overwhelm her while filming, which might explain her credibility on screen in Fade Street, a show loosely based on the American reality TV show The Hills.

"They never stopped me saying what I really think," she says. "I always liked Brody on The Hills. He was very cheeky, and I admire people who say things to people's faces and don't go behind their backs.

"I took the approach that it's better to say what I think and then people will have a true sense of who I am. That's why I haven't struggled with how I come across on screen, and I haven't cringed at looking at myself on the series, because I didn't try to impress and I was just myself."

Fade Street, like many a youth programme on RTE, has attracted its fair share of criticism. Fledgling reality star Louise responds: "I laugh at the parts of the show other people laugh at, so I'm not going to come over all offended and sensitive.

"The cameras were only with us for a couple of hours a day anyway, and I rarely missed a lecture in UCD. I've had no response at all from my fellow students, so recognition hasn't been a distraction in college.

"I go into lectures and sit down at the front and get on with my work. I don't hang out in UCD the way I would have a couple of years ago, so maybe that is why nobody has made the connection between the girl in lectures and the girl in Fade Street," the young TV personality reveals.

"We're in very tough times and we've a long way to go to get out of this recession, but I don't aspire to being a celebrity economist like David McWilliams."

The stunning student is taking whatever fame has come her way in her stride. "When I'm out and about, people come over and ask to have their photo taken with me and want to have a chat, and they've all been fun and positive," she says.

"A good barometer of how true I've been to myself is how my mum has reacted. She sees Fade Street as being a great opportunity for me and doesn't see reality TV as being in any way negative.

"She loves watching me and feels that the person on screen is the person she knows. My older sister Judith is an accountant and is good at everything she puts her hand to, and she has been complimentary and supportive. I'm taking that as a good sign."

She would consider doing a few things differently if filming the series again. "I've matured a bit since shooting began last July," she says. "I've learned a lot about dealing with people and how to approach different situations. I've learned a lot about how I put myself across, especially when it comes to interview skills.

"We all learn from our mistakes, but I don't regret maturing on screen, and being on Fade Street has helped me rather than hindered me."

She kissed a boy on Fade Street, but the blonde beauty is happily single. "I love going out with my friends and we're always in groups, so I think we would frighten any prospective suitors off," she says. "And now I've been on telly, maybe some guys would be put off by that.

"But I'm not chasing a relationship at the minute. I'm too busy studying and planning my future in event management."

But she admits that if another offer of TV work comes along, she will consider it.

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Fade Street, Mondays, RTE 2, 10.55pm

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