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She played in Amy Driver‘s Willa Dollar Baby film as Willa.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Julie Ann McKiernan: Hello everyone, My name is Julie Ann McKiernan. I come from Ireland in a small place called Cavan. (I am currently living here). As well as an actress, I am also a primary school teacher. Films and plays are my passion, but you can also find me keeping active outdoors, on the farm and Reading.

SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actress?

Julie Ann McKiernan: From as far back as I remember, I always wanted to be in the films, but I figured that was a dream all young girls wanted. I would devise plays/storylines in my head and act them, playing all the parts myself. I am from a rural farming background where acting wasn’t actively encouraged. I was a very shy child so I lacked the confidence to put my dreams into reality then. I kept them dream in the back of my head, and decided to  pursue computer Science and then primary  teaching after. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s and dating an actor, often rehearsing lines with him, that I realised I could do this too. I enrolled and  studied part time in the Gaiety School of Acting, Dublin. The tutors there were great and really encourged me to go for it. While I was studying there, I auditioned for my first play by local playright Philip Doherty, got the part and haven’t looked back since.

SKSM: How did you become involved in Willa Dollar Baby film?

Julie Ann McKiernan: I had heard of and seen some work by Amy Driver and was keen to work with her if I ever got the chance. A few contacts I had in the industry, told me about auditions she was having for her new film “Willa” and I jumped at the chance to audition for her. I contacted her, was sent a tiny bit of script,  got an audition and luckily for me, I got the part.

SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?

Julie Ann McKiernan: I think people love a good ghost story, and whats even better, a romantic ghost story. I think the plot twist also adds to the haunting nature of it. It also brings up the question, what is real and what isn’t. It’s the kind of story you can tell your friends some night over a campfire or a glass of wine.

SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?

Julie Ann McKiernan: I had to audition to get the part.

SKSM: You worked with Amy Driver on this film, how was that?

Julie Ann McKiernan: I had saw a play directed by Amy a few months before I heard about Willa. I really enjoyed the energy, creativity and eye for detail she had in the play. It was a really energetic piece called “Phil the Fluters Party” I was over the moon when I got the chance to work with her. She was a dream to work with, really clear in what she wanted while allowing the actors to try out new things. She has a great eye for subtle detail and creating the perfect picture. She was  the perfect director to work with, on my first film.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Julie Ann McKiernan: One thing that stands out for me, was the kiss, between the 2 main characters, Willa and David. It was my first kiss as an actress, so I was really nervous. Amy and Jack, my co-star made me feel super relaxed and after a few giggles in rehearsal, we got the kiss in one take. The dance scene at the end was fun, and Jack Hickey who is a great dancer, showed me some moves. The dancing turned quite energetic. I think we were doing the tango throughout takes.

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Julie Ann McKiernan: I would be Friends with all the cast and crew on social media, but haven’t been in direct contact with any of them recently. I would always support them and catch their new films/plays etc. We are all scattered throughout the globe at the minute.

SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?

Julie Ann McKiernan: Due to Co-Vid 19, all plays/ films have been put on hold but I had just came off the back of winning 3rd place in the All Ireland Drama Finals with a one act play called “The Aftermath” with Cornmill Theatre Group. We were about to start reading a new play which had been written directly for me and 3 other actors with the same theatre group. We hope to.

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Julie Ann McKiernan: Absolutley, He is the ultimate master of horror, suspense and supernatural story telling.

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Julie Ann McKiernan: I didn’t stand on a stage until I was 27.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Julie Ann McKiernan: Thanks a million for taking the time out to read this and I hope you enjoy the film!

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