Irish actor Máiréad Tyers: “I’m so proud to play exclusively Irish characters”

Irish actor Máiréad Tyers is making a name for herself around the globe.

The Cork woman exploded onto the scene in Disney+’s irrevent comedy, Extraordinary – for which she was nominated for a BAFTA.

Now she will be heading in a very different direction in Prime Video’s My Lady Jane.

The series is inspired by the best-selling book and is a radical retelling of English royal history, in which King Henry VIII’s son Edward does not die of tuberculosis.

Lady Jane Grey is not beheaded, and neither is her scoundrel of a husband Guildford. At the centre of this swashbuckling new series is the brilliant and headstrong Jane, who is shocked to be crowned queen and finds herself the target of nefarious villains coming for the crown (and her head).

VIP Magazine caught up with her to chat about period pieces, auditions and flying the Irish flag…

Hey Máiréad, how are you keeping? Congrats on My Lady Jane, we loved it. Tell us about getting the part of Susannah.

It was an ordinary process, where I did the self-tape and did the recall on Zoom. I remember feeling really comforted when I got on the Zoom call. It was all women, it was incredible. I never realised that I never had that experience before until I saw it in front of me. I wanted to be involved already at that point when I saw who was involved but after meeting I felt so inspired. So when I got the call offering me the job I was absolutely delighted.

What drew you to the role?

I didn’t get any scripts until I was cast. But in the audition scenes, Jane is trying to convince her to go, for them to run away. So just from that scene alone, I knew that she was hiding something. A lot of that scene is what Susannah is hiding and what she’s not able to say. There’s also the fact that Susannah has a duty to Jane as not only her friend but as her maid, the power dynamic exists there, where she has to go along with what Jane suggests. I just found that it was so layered, it was so interesting. So that combined with the people who were involved it was a dream job.

Right, we’ve got two questions in without mentioning Ireland. Tell us are you proud to fly the Irish flag?

God yeah! So proud! It’s fantastic. I’m glad that so far in my career I’ve played exclusively Irish characters. Sometimes people ask am I looking forward to getting away from that and getting to do an accent. And of course, I am because it’s something I would like to explore. But I am so proud of the fact I have played Irish characters and Irish characters who have existed in stories that aren’t necessarily about the fact they’re Irish. Like in this, why couldn’t there be an Irish maid? Sure we’ve seen it before! But there is so much more to this. She’s such an interesting character. She’s not just a side character who is Irish because all the maids are Irish. She has a real depth and story of her own. Because she’s Irish compliments that. And then Jen in Extraordinary is about a character who is living in London – but why couldn’t she be Irish? In my experience, my Irishness, probably because I have red hair and I’m pale, so I can’t get away from it, I can’t get away from it, but it’s been welcomed by the jobs I’ve done. And when it’s big companies like Disney and Amazon, they’re happy to have those characters. It’s great to see, us having such incredible work.

We love that! What would you tell your younger self, the one starting out in the industry or even back to doing your Leaving Cert?

When I think of doing the Leaving Cert, I knew very early on that I wanted to do acting and go to drama school. I found out I got into drama school a week before doing the Leaving so everything went out the window then! [Laughs] But when I think back to who I was at that time, I knew what I wanted to do but I felt so terrified by it all. It was a big move, moving over to London and everything. But everything has been going very well so far and I’m very grateful for that. But I think I would just like to tell younger me and anyone that age, just trust that it will play out in a way that will aid your growth as a person. And anything that comes your way you can overcome it. If it doesn’t happen quick and fast doesn’t mean it’s not coming!


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My Lady Jane is based on a Young Adult novel. Is there pressure to live up to the hopes of the fans?

I had read the book. But very quickly I think the focus was just to look at what was in front of us in terms of scripts. But what was fantastic was that when the series and casting was announced, the book readers were so excited that there was a series. Of course, there is a pressure there and you hope you can meet their expectations. But as the news and the trailers have gone out, you see people commenting about how excited they are to watch it. It feels so rewarding. The series uses the book as a base, but it’s elevated it and added even more. So it’s very exciting.

This is very different from your other show, Extraordinary. What’s it like being in a period piece?

Amazing. It’s a lot of hours in the makeup chair. A lot of hair! I felt like the scalp was being ripped off me at times! [Laughs] But it was lovely to have hair down to my toes. But it’s amazing because you get so much for free. When you walk into the set, it’s candle lit, there is the scents there, it’s incredible. Even your costume. And the props! I love a prop – that sounds like something a bad actor would say! But so much of it helped build the world in such a truthful way. It really felt like they were creating the world. There was a great budget and great producers behind it, which pushed everything to the limits in the best ways!

And being hoofed into a corset…

And hoofed is the word for it! [Laughs] It is quite funny because at the end of the day, our costume trainees would have to pull us out of these corsets. You’d just be standing there sweating in a drenched petticoat. But it was amazing, when you’re in a costume like that, it changes your physicality completely. For my character, she goes from wearing a uniform to breeches and bits that she would have robbed from places. That really helped the character process and journey in my mind.

And period dramas are everywhere, even in our fashion! 

It has to be from TV shows like My Lady Jane, like Bridgerton, there’s this feminity in the style of dress. And corsets are such a thing right now in our fashion. It’s beautiful. I think we’re into well-made stuff now, rather than fast fashion. We’re using second-hand clothes a lot more now and I feel like there’s that correlation with period times. I think we’re getting more inventive with fashion. But I think there’s a real surge in it and I love it.

Before we let you go, what do you hope audiences take away from My Lady Jane?

I hope that they laugh, it’s great for escapism. I hope they can see the parallels with the Tudor society and the society we’ve created in this show with the Ethians and the Verities. I hope they can see the discrimination between the Ethians and the Verities, see the parallels that also exist in our world. I know the pressures that are on women in this world are harsher than they are now but there are certain parts of the world that has that harsh reality for women. There is so much to take from it, but mostly I want them to fall in love with the characters and have a laugh and cry and get excited.

My Lady Jane is currently streaming on Prime Video 

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