Jayne Wisener

On a brief visit home, we caught up with actress Jayne Wisener who has recently got engaged and is continuing to make her mark on stage and screen.

Northern Irish singer and actress, Jayne Wisener is best known for playing Johanna in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”. It was while performing in a youth production of West Side Story at the Millennium Forum in Derry, Wisener was spotted by a talent scout, who asked her to audition for a role.

From Coleraine, Jayne represented Antrim in the highly acclaimed Rose of Tralee competition in 2005, time spent at local dramatics group, M4UTH progressed to training at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama for one year before she left after landing the role of Johanna in “Sweeney Todd”.

Jayne made her stage debut in the UK premiere of the musical “Parade” at the Donmar Warehouse theatre in 2007. She appeared in “Boogeyman 3” playing the role of Amy and in November 2008 created the role of Sophie in a West End showcase of the new musical “The Lost Christmas” by Laurence Mark Wythe at the Trafalgar Studios, London. In 2009 she appeared in one episode of “The Inbetweeners”. In late 2009, until early 2010 she appeared on stage playing the role of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. In late 2010, Jayne played the lead character “Jay” in UK feature film, “Life Just Is”. She starred alongside Paul Nicholls and the two play a couple trying to work out their complex relationship.

In March 2011 she played Sally, a young woman in a centre for female juvenile delinquents, in “The Runaway”, based on Martina Cole's novel, and just recently has been on our screens as Lucy Wilson in “Injustice”.

Congratulations to you and Wayne on your engagement. Did he surprise you?

He did surprise me with how he did it, however, he has already asked my parents for my hand in marriage and we have talked about it before, so I knew it would happen at some point. We’ve been together for three years now, so it was really the next step in our relationship.

So, how did he pop the question?

It was my birthday weekend and he surprised me with everything he did! He gave me mini scrolls with instructions which I opened and followed what they said. So, we went into London, where he had booked us into the Park Plaza in Westminster, which was the hotel where I had filmed “Injustice”. Then we headed to the South Bank and I thought he would propose while we where here because we would have hung out around here when we first started going out. However, we left here and headed to a fabulous Michelin star restaurant in Kent for dinner. On the way we took a detour to the place where we first met each other at a party and that’s where he proposed.

Did he have the ring?

Yes, he had the ring. It was one he got made by a Belfast manufacturer in line with a design I had described to him in the past. It’s a beautiful platinum, diamond solitaire with diamonds circling the solitaire and running along the platinum band. It’s a real sparkler!

Have you set a date and location for the wedding yet?

I’m not going to be giving all of the finer details away, but I will tell you that the wedding is planned for next summer and will take place here in Northern Ireland. I have my planning book at the ready and with everyone’s help Wayne and I want to organise everything ourselves, how we want it. My younger brother, John, 22, will be an usher and my sister, Gillian, 20, will be my Maid of Honour, but that’s all I’m giving away!

When you’re married would you ever think of coming back to NI to live?

Both Wayne and I have jobs that require us to be in living and working from London, so no I don’t see us living anyway else at the moment.

What’s it like for Wayne being the other half to a successful actress?

Wayne works for Barclay’s and it’s nice that he’s not in the same line of work as me because I get to see what I do through his eyes. He’s very supportive and gets excited about going to screenings, coming on set or seeing the end result on TV. I like that his reaction keeps me excited too, without that you would become a bit more blasé.

Since we last spoke to you two years ago after the success of “Sweeney Todd”, you appear to have been busy?

I don’t get everything I go for, but yes, I’ve been busy. I’ve done a couple of plays. The last play I did I played called “Future Self” that was written by best selling novelist, Lucy Caulfield. I’ve also had some TV work with appearances on “Casualty”, and of course, “Injustice”. Anthony Horowitz, who wrote “Injustice” is a great writer and my character, Lucy Wilson, was a bit different to the roles I’m usually cast in, she wasn’t a particularly nice person, and I really enjoyed the role. Another role that was completely different to anything I have been cast in before was Sally who I played in Sky TV’s “The Runaway”. Sally was a paramaniac and completely mad. I looked awful and had blood everywhere. It’s great to be able to show that I can do roles they wouldn’t necessarily look at me and cast me for. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed in any way and enjoy the variety offered to me by my work.

You also mentioned you were planning to take a trip to the US to look for work. How did this go?

Well, I did head over and I’ve now got an agent here and I’m sent for a lot of castings and tapings. I don’t get everything I go for, but certainly my role in “Sweeney Todd” has helped and helps people recognise who I am over there. There is a lot happening over here, but there are also a lot of actors and actresses out there.

Have you done any larger feature films lately?

I do have a part in the new Jayne Eyre movie, however, now that I’ve seen it, the scenes I filmed have been drastically cut - which is just all part of the job - not all the work you do gets used. I went to screening in March/April in the States and I believe the film is due for release here in September.

What would be your favourite, film, TV or theatre?

I’m lucky to have different options and as I’ve said I love variety. I enjoy the chance to work across all three to be honest.

Would you like to be part of a regular TV drama series?

It’s not what I’m necessarily looking for. The days are long and it’s really hard work, not that I’m against a bit of work - I’m constantly on the go either working or auditioning. In this industry you have to be prepared to work, the glamorous side on the red carpet is a perk, but it’s not a true reflection of the long days spent hanging around in green rooms or filming through the night. Acting is a tough profession, but I have to say it is the most amazing job and I really love it.

What would your dream job be?

I think that I would like to be in a US comedy or something. I love singing all of the songs from “Wicked” and would love the role of Rachel Tucker’s character, Elphaba.

Interview: Margaret Connolly

Photography: Darren Kidd at Press Eye

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