Jordanne Jones: A star was born with her first role at age 12

Jordanne Jones: A star was born with her first role at age 12
Jordanne Jones as Emma.

At 18, Irish actress Jordanne Jones already has a lot of experience, but Metal Heart could be her breakout film, writes Esther McCarthy

AS a child, Jordanne Jones would regularly tell her family of her desire to be an actor, so when her mother, Senator Lynn Ruane, heard of auditions for a film in their community centre, she encouraged her to go. The 12-year-old ended up delivering an extraordinary lead performance in Frank Berry’s film, I Used to Live Here, set in her native Tallaght.

“She had seen on Facebook there was an audition. She gave me the space to explore and try new things. She was definitely a great support. I would tell my mam that I desperately wanted to be an actor.

"I kept telling people, because I was so scared that it wouldn’t happen. I hadn’t known anyone who was in acting; none of my family or of my friends. So, I wasn’t even sure if it was realistic or a thing that I could actually do.

“I just remember, being younger, my dad was a film buff and he’d show me all the classics. There definitely was a fear that I wouldn’t make it, and I think my mam would have seen that from really early on.”

In the years since, the 18-year-old, from Killinarden, has carved out a promising career for herself, playing the central character in Emmet Kirwan’s short spoken-word piece, Heartbreak, which became a viral hit, and starring as Minnie Mahon in RTÉ TV series Rebellion and its follow-up, Resistance.

In Metal Heart, the charming directing debut of Irish actor, Hugh O’Conor, Jones takes on her first leading movie role, as a feisty goth who has a chalk-and-cheese relationship with her twin sister (Leah McNamara). She saw a lot of herself in Emma.

“I related to Emma as a character, because I definitely had a conflict of expressing who I was, in terms of the clothes I wore and the songs that I listened to. That was also a challenge, because it meant I probably didn’t have many friends, growing up in school.

“I didn’t fit in or wasn’t invited to parties or whatever, because I was a little bit different. I would always go back and forth between being like everyone else and getting bored and having to come back to being who I really was. What I loved so much about Emma is that she owned it, despite it being easier to be like everyone else.

She fights that and she continues to be herself, which I loved about her, because I definitely wished that I could have done that more, growing up.

She learned to play guitar “a little” for Metal Heart, as her character is in a band. “I was always interested in getting into music, but I could only play the easy stuff, like ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Wonderwall’. I’d love to get into music, but I’m happy to listen to it right now.

“I wouldn’t have grown up listening to the music I listen to now. My mam was a big Tupac fan. She had me in bandanas and all! She had me really young (when she was 15), so she was big into music and I feel like music means so much to young people. It can really speak to them.

“My cousin Holly actually introduced me to the music that I listen to today. She showed me Queen and people like Sonic Youth and The Smiths and I felt like it changed my life. It just really spoke to me and really made me feel. I’ve always had a love for music, so it’s really great that that was part of Emma’s character.”

Currently studying film in Trinity College, Jordanne will also star in Dead Still, which is filming (it will form the cornerstone of RTÉ’s winter drama season). “It’s set in Victorian ages and it’s a black comedy, which I’m really happy about, because it’s not something I would have usually done. Metal Heart did give me that confidence to go for other roles in different genres.”

Metal Heart opens today

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