Jamie-Lee O’Donnell shares she was holding down two jobs when filming season one of Derry Girls

Jamie-Lee O’Donnell
Pic: Jamie-Lee O’Donnell/Instagram

From the very first episode, everybody knew Derry Girls was a hit. Well… not everybody as Jamie-Lee O’Donnell who plays Michelle actually wasn’t sure the show would be a success and worked two Christmas jobs as a backup plan after the first season finished filming.

So where exactly did Jamie Lee work? Well, she revealed to the Belfast Telegraph, “After I finished season one, because it took so long to come out, I found myself working in Eason’s and Swarovski. Both stores were across from each other, so it was handy.”

Of course, the Derry native hadn’t given up on acting, as she explained, “I did a thing for BBC2, but my agent said, ‘It’s going to be a while before things come in.’”

“All these expectations had to be adjusted, and the reality of it is you’ve got bills to pay, so I thought, ‘F**k it. I’m going to go and get these two Christmas jobs.’”


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As mad as it is to think you could have been served by Michelle herself while buying some books at Christmas time, the show hadn’t came out yet so you would have never known. Which is part of the reason Jamie Lee decided to get her jobs.

As she said, “There was a lot of times where I didn’t want to sit about, but I thought, ‘What’s the point? I might as well work before I’m known’.”

We now know Derry Girls became a sensational hit. Receiving rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, developing a cult following, and going viral worldwide gaining an international audience. But as is often the case for actors, even though everyone who worked on the show loved it, there was a lot of uncertainty over its future in the beginning.

As Jamie Lee explained, “We didn’t know Derry Girls was going to take off. It’s surreal. Obviously, we hoped for this. We loved filming it.”

The show has now become so popular it was even subtly referenced on iconic cartoon The Simpsons. While some might have missed it, eagle-eyed fans noticed an ice-cream shop in the latest episode was called, “Dairy Girls Ice Cream.” The Simpsons’ producer Matt Selman, confirmed it was a reference to Derry Girls on Twitter, saying it was “the least we could do!”

So from working two jobs at Christmas to getting referenced on The Simpsons, it’s safe to say Jamie Lee (and Derry Girls) have made it.


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A post shared by Jamie Lee O’Donnell (@jamie.lee.od)

As for when we will get to see Jamie Lee back on our screens as Michelle, there isn’t a date yet. However, we do have some info on the upcoming final season of Derry Girls.

This season will focus on the girls (and James) as they prepare to take their GCSE exams (which is similar to the Junior Cert) and get in to all types of trouble. They will all grow up a bit more this season and they’re not the only ones.

Everyone’s favourite nun Sister Michael will also be doing some growing this season. As actress Siobhán McSweeney revealed, “there are a few things in this series that force her to stand up and actually take account of herself and of what she believes. So, I think Sister Michael becomes more herself. It’s really lovely.”

Roll on season three!

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