Alumni Spotlight

Lesley Conroy, Actress

1 Oct
Alumni Spotlight - Lesley Conroy, Actress

Fans of RTE’s Fair City will know her as Aoife, one of the show’s most reviled characters, but Lesley Conroy is now taking on a role of a different kind in Decadent Theatre’s 'The Mai’, which has just finished up at the Everyman. The versatile actress, who has worked with the likes of Brendan Gleeson and Mia Farrow, is also a fluent Irish speaker and can count roles in TG4 productions among her credits. She is due to appear again on our screens this autumn in Sharon Horgan’s comedy-drama series ‘Women on the Verge’, alongside fellow Cork woman, Eileen Walsh. We chat to Lesley about her UCC days.

Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation
BA (Hons) English & French 1993

Best memory of UCC
The immense freedom after the regiment of school. Forging school friendships and making new ones. Running to the tutor’s office for the 5pm deadline, submitting sweaty essays. Watching videos in the Audio Visual centre between lectures (how quaint!) and of course the ‘fla wall’ – a prehistoric precursor to discussion boards.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
I knew I wanted to act from a young age. So, the time in Dramat and studying English galvanized that aspiration. I was only 16 when I started college and those 3 years helped me to mature in a safe and creative environment.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
Enjoy this time in your life, you don’t get it back! Work hard, but don’t be hard on yourself. Engage in societies and clubs that have nothing to do with your degree/course. You never know, it might lead you down a different path. Listen to your intuition and follow the goals that fit with your values and that unique inner spark within you.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
I had great respect and admiration for my college lecturers – some of whom were peers also. My English tutor Fergal Gaynor for opening my eyes to the beautiful prose of Michael Ondaatje. John Crowley for his days in the Dramat producing student drama of a professional calibre. Also, my peers who followed their dreams and made the world a more interesting place as a result.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I was very much involved in the Dramat and was on the committee. I was lucky to represent the college at ISDA twice in my time in Cork. In Dublin and Belfast – and have razor sharp memories of those excursions. In hindsight they were great networking opportunities, rubbing shoulders with Willie White and Camille O’Sullivan (to name but a few) when they were students.  At one point, myself and a friend set up the first skateboarding club. When making up posters, there were no skateboard templates in the Clubs and Society office and so we had to use a scooter picture and Tipp-exed out the pole and handle (pre-digital media days). Creative problem-solving in action! I believe we had about 3 members.

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