'Some people think acting is just for Dubliners' - Aisling
A star of new crime drama series Darklands has urged young people to follow their dream after getting her breakthrough part a week after leaving college.
Aisling Kearns, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, said people in rural areas often thought acting was just for people living in Dublin.
But the 24-year-old said she always knew it would work out for her because she was so determined.
"Growing up, I knew what I wanted to do and was going to get there. I was very confident as a child and teenager.
"A lot of people don't see the opportunities because they are from the midlands and they go, 'Oh, I can't do that, sure you need to be living up in Dublin'.
"But you can do it. If you put your head to it, it doesn't matter where you're from. If you have the talent and work hard, you will get there."
Aisling was accepted into the Gaiety School of Acting and applied for the role in six-part Virgin Media series Darklands near the end of her two-year course.
"I auditioned through my agent Lisa Richards and was given a call back. After that they gave me a ring and said I had got the part," she said.
"It was absolutely brilliant. I was just about to go on stage and do my graduation play and I was shaking.
"I couldn't believe it. I had to leave that off-stage and walk on and do the grad play and deal with it after. I rang my mam and said, 'My God, Mam, I'm going to be on the telly. Mam and Dad are delighted for me. I'm so lucky I have such a supportive family.
"From a very young age I said, 'I'm going to be a performer, I'm going to be an entertainer' and that's what I'm doing.
"They all said, 'Yeah, go for it,' and so when I got this part I said, 'Ma, all that money you spent, it actually worked out! I'm doing what I'm supposed to do.'"
In Darklands, which will hit our screens in the autumn, Aisling plays 17-year-old Nicola Keegan, who is from a criminal background but dreams of a normal life and going to college. Her boyfriend Damien Dunne, played by newcomer Dane Whyte O'Hara, also dreams of an escape from crime with a career as an MMA fighter.
"That's why they connect with each other, they are both trying to live a normal life and not the life their families and people they know are involved in," said Aisling.
The series is directed by Mark O'Connor, who shot to fame with his movie Cardboard Gangsters.
"It was great working with Dane and everyone in the cast was brilliant," said Aisling. "It was a fantastic opportunity. My friends are saying, 'You're going to be on telly, that's mad.'
"Everyone is excited and it seems so surreal, especially for someone from the midlands."