Demi Isaac Oviawe chats her next role, manifesting and what’s next for her

Demi Isaac Oviawe Pic: Virgin Media

Demi Isaac Oviawe made a name for herself on The Young Offenders but two years since the RTÉ series came to an end the Cork woman has her eyes on the prize.

She’s starring in the TV adaptation of Graham Norton’s Holding, a four-part drama set in a sleepy, rural village in West Cork that is turned upside down when human remains are found. The shocking discovery begins to unearth even more twisted truths about members of the village.

Demi stars alongside the likes of Charlene McKenna, Pauline McLynn, Siobhán Sweeney and Brenda Fricker. It’s a fairly stacked cast.

VIP Magazine caught up with Demi ahead of the series airing…

Demi Isaac Oviawe and Pauline McLynn Pic: Virgin Media

Hi Demi, how are you keeping?

I’m good, I’m still in bed! I have not gotten out of bed so I’m great! [Laughs]

Where else would you be on a dreary day like today? Tell us a bit about your character in Holding!

I play Aoife Akingbola, she is the right-hand woman to Pauline McLynn’s character Mrs O’Driscoll and Anne Kent’s Nora. The three of us are the town’s gossip. But Aoife isn’t necessarily a gossip, she’s just new. She’s heard so many stories that she has important information about the case. The show is set in a town called Duneen where there’s been a murder and they’re trying to figure out who killed who, why they killed them and the significance of this murder. You see it impacts everyone’s lives in different ways. That’s a really bad summary! [Laughs] My character Aoife drifts in and she fancies the new detective that comes in who is played by Clinton Liberty, [who wouldn’t?] she befriends him. She has important information about what’s happening and she tells him a bit here and there.

The cast is filled with absolute legends, you mentioned Pauline and Anne. And, of course, it’s based on a book by the one and only Graham Norton. Did you feel pressure to perform?

Not at all. I was just delighted to be there! I have done a few jobs here and there. I have never been in West Cork, to be out in the country was absolutely fantastic. I got to see it for its full beauty last year. Pauline McLynn is an absolute legend, she is naturally funny. The two of us…it was like Tom and Jerry! We put on the best show possible. Our characters go head to head. It was absolutely great, she was fantastic to work with. And so is Anne Kent, who I also worked alongside. Everyone was great to work with.

Demi Isaac Oviawe and Pauline McLynn Pic: Virgin Media

So what attracted you to Aoife?

When I auditioned for it, it was very specific to me. They were looking for a Black Irish woman, who was tall and had a thick Cork accent. I thought, “F**k that’s me.” Not to sound cocky but that’s me, like unless there is someone else I should know about! It was based in Cork and it’s great to work in Cork and pay my respects almost. And I wasn’t in the city for once. And a job’s a job! I don’t want to stop, especially when it’s so close to home. This is more of a reason to do it.

We’d be remiss not to mention your other Cork show, The Young Offenders. What was filming Holding like compared to that series?

The Young Offenders was a lot more chaotic because we were literally in the city centre. We were in council terraces, there was so much happening. And this was before COVID, so people were coming up to you as well. West Cork is so much quieter. Cast wise is a lot more mature. I’m a lot older than I was when I did The Young Offenders. It was different but it was a nice different.

You were very young. You did your Leaving Cert when you were working on The Young Offenders, right?

Yes, I was literally in the middle of it!

It sounds like you loved being out West! 

Absolutely! And, I had just watched the West Cork Murder documentary about Sophie Toscan du Plantier, I love true crime. I was like “That’s where this happened and that happened”. It’s so surreal. I’m so invested in that case that happened years ago! West Cork is so beautiful! It’s one of those places that is taken for granted. I wish I had gone swimming, but when you’re on a job with your hair braided you can’t go swimming which is f**king b****x! And everyone else was going swimming! I wasn’t going to just dip my toes in because what’s the point? They were all going on crazy adventures. We went to these little markets and little restaurants. They were class! I love West Cork. I wish there was a train line going from Mallow to West Cork. You could just go for the day!

Demi Isaac Oviawe Pic: Brian McEvoy

So what’s next for you, Demi?

Holding is out on the 12th and then I’m in a film for Netflix which comes out on the 19th of October [The School for Good and Evil]. That’s quite big! I’m not going to jinx myself but it is big! I did all this last year, so I haven’t done anything this year. I’m auditioning for things, but you know yourself, you’re a sitting duck until someone says you’re the perfect person. I’m still doing my radio show at the moment. I will never let that go because it is great craic. I sound really conceited but I’m not, I’m just chilling. But hopefully, come pilot season I’ll pick up something. Hopefully, after Christmas I’ll definitely have something. I’m manifesting!

You mentioned before that you were interested in writing your own series. Is that still something you’re working on?

I am and I’m not. In the sense, that I haven’t brought out my notebook. I have a copybook dedicated to all my ideas. If I think of an idea or see someone who is funny, I’ll jot it down on my phone now. But in terms of writing a script, I haven’t written one. And I don’t want to! I can’t write! I can think of jokes and think of punchlines, I’m creative in that sense. But I don’t have a way with words that a writer would have.

So you need to get someone else on board to help!

I need a partner in crime for this project. And I really want one because projects take forever. Once you type up the plot, basically a menu of what to expect, you have to send it away and then you get your funding. Then you actually have to write the scripts for however many episodes and do about 10 drafts of that! Then you have to pitch it to a production company. By the time you get there, it’s about four years down the line. I mean, that’s what I want. But I need that partner in crime first.

Graham Norton’s Holding will launch on Virgin Media One this Monday 12th September at 9pm

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