On my radar: Saoirse-Monica Jackson's cultural highlights

The Derry Girls star on the TV adaptation of Normal People, Irish rappers and a podcast about mental health

Actor Saoirse-Monica Jackson was born in 1993 in Derry, Northern Ireland. She trained at the Arden School of Theatre in Manchester and made her TV debut in miniseries The Five in 2016. She stars in Channel 4 sitcom Derry Girls, playing the role of Erin Quinn and next appears in Headlong theatre company and Century Films’s Unprecedented: Theatre from a State of Isolation on BBC Four from 26 May, part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.

1. TV

Normal People

Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal in Normal People.
‘Outstanding’: Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal in Normal People. Photograph: Enda Bowe/BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu

I have ploughed through Normal People during isolation. I was a diehard fan of the book and the TV adaptation has definitely exceeded my expectations. A young couple from County Sligo from completely different backgrounds fall in love and reunite at college. The show follows their life into adulthood. It’s so beautifully directed by Lenny Abrahamson [and Hettie Macdonald] – he captures home in all its glory. Every episode is like a little standalone film. The actors, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, are absolutely outstanding in it.

2. Podcast

Killing It

Jordan Stephens at the 2020 Brit awards in February.
Jordan Stephens at the 2020 Brit awards in February. Photograph: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

I’m about halfway through Jordan Stephens’s podcast series with psychotherapist Petra Velzeboer. Jordan started off as one of the members of [hip-hop duo] Rizzle Kicks and is a writer who speaks about mental health. The podcast is quite focused on mental health in the music industry but it expands on that. What I find most interesting about it is how openly Jordan talks about the issues around shame. All of the invited guests have a certain level of honesty and bravery and all guards are dropped.

3. Documentary

Finding Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier.
‘So much passion and tenderness’: Vivian Maier. Photograph: Ravine Pictures/Allstar

Vivian Maier worked as a nanny in the 1950s in America. She had this mad secret life – she was a street photographer, but she never shared her work and it was only discovered after she died. Her photographs are so beautiful and depict so much passion and tenderness. I really love documentaries about the crazy lives of artists. I’m always on the hunt for the next one and this is one of the best I’ve seen.

4. Website


Bao buns
Bao buns: one way to get through the lockdown. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

I just stumbled across this food and health blog [by Stephanie Miller]. It’s good as it encourages you to maintain a positive relationship with food and fitness by not starving yourself. The recipes have loads of different vegetarian options and are inventive and delicious. We made bao buns from the site, which I would have never done before, but they were great. I’m locked up with a really nice bunch and we’re all best friends, so it’s really good to go all out to try new things and make an evening of it.

5. Radio

BBC Radio 6 Music

Lauren Laverne.
‘Insightful’: 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. Photograph: 7wonder/BBC

We constantly have radio on now in the house: I never really listened before, but I have a newfound love. It’s informative throughout the day without bogging you down. We wake up to Lauren Laverne in the morning and then go on to Mary Anne Hobbs from 12 to four. Those two women are really getting me through the day. They’re very insightful. I would have never listened to the Top 40 before but now I know all the words to every Dua Lipa song and I’ve actually bought tickets to see her in January 2021.

6. Music


Kojaque performs at The Haunt on May 10, 2019 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns)
‘Cheeky’ Irish rapper Kojaque. Photograph: Lorne Thomson/Redferns

I’ve just started listening to this Irish rap and hip-hop artist. He’s really well known for pushing boundaries. I’ve been listening to his album Deli Daydreams while jogging and it really gives you a slice of home. Some of his songs are so political; talking about abortion rights and how our government has dealt with that in the last couple of years. He’s cheeky. His songs have recurring characters so once you start listening to the album, they come up again and again, there’s a narrative.


Kadish Morris

The GuardianTramp

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