An aspiring young actor and writer from Holywood, who's a family friend of movie star Jamie Dornan and has had his American theatre dream shattered by the coronavirus pandemic, has talked of the fear and tensions that have gripped New York in the wake of riots and protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Cameron Tharma, who says he shares America's outrage at the death of the African American in police custody, has described New York as a 'really frightening place', adding: "The country is truly at a turning point and you can feel it in the air. There's uncertainty everywhere, the atmosphere is highly charged.
"There are police everywhere. I took part in a peaceful protest for six hours in Manhattan on Tuesday but left in time to get home to Brooklyn before the curfew started.
"However, there were thousands of thousands of people who stayed out on the streets and many of them marched to Trump Tower.
"The president's behaviour has been disgraceful. I think he's one of the worst human beings ever. It's insane.
"People are saying that he will still be re-elected in November, but I don't think so. I'm convinced Trump has united America like never before - against him. But it's still a horrible time.
"You are going out knowing that you could be tear-gassed or fired at with rubber bullets. And then there are also worries over the spread of the virus, but everyone I saw on the protests was wearing a mask and people were handing out water, snacks and hand sanitisers."
Cameron says on Tuesday night five police cars were outside his apartment block where there was another protest.
"People from home are obviously very concerned about what's going on," the 25-year-old explains. "But people here want to stand up and be counted."
Even before the Floyd killing, Cameron, a former Glentoran youth academy footballer, was finding life in New York tough.
As the coronavirus spread he watched as body bags were carried out of apartment blocks and saw refrigerated lorries used as a makeshift morgue outside a hospital near his home.
Cameron and millions of other people have been struggling to stay safe from Covid-19 in the virus-ravaged city.
And he has also revealed he's coming home soon because the virus has stymied his acting work and put on hold his hopes of having his visa renewed.
"The pandemic struck really hard here," says Cameron. "In the neighbourhood where I live one of the hospitals that was particularly badly hit is just around the corner from me. It was grim to see the trucks outside and when I was out cycling I saw body bags coming out of apartments."
Disturbing pictures of the hospital, Wycoff General, have been circulated worldwide. As well as the temporary morgues outside, photos of hallways and holding areas inside the hospital showed row upon row of orange body bags lining them.
Cameron says the coronavirus situation had calmed down in recent days but the fact that there's relief that 'only' 100 people died in one day last weekend illustrates the scale of the nightmare in NYC.
"The figures had been slowly coming down," he adds. "New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo had eased restrictions allowing people to gather and hang out together in small groups."
Cameron lives with four of his theatre friends in Brooklyn and they have observed the lockdown regulations to the letter.
They've only been going out for shopping trips or the odd cycle, though they did manage to shoot an original short film in their apartment which took just a week to produce.
He says: "We've all been working hard together and collaborating with other friends online in projects so it's been manageable for us, though knowing what's been going on in the outside world of New York City has been scary. Thankfully none of us has lost anyone we know."
At one of the last counts over 16,000 people had died from Covid-19 in New York City.
Cameron has been living in the city for three years after he decided that acting was the career for him.
His first taste of drama came at Sullivan Upper school in Holywood, the town where he grew up with his Malaysian-born doctor father and his English mum and two brothers who still use the full family name of Tharmaratran.
Cameron's other passion was football and he played for Glentoran's youth teams for five years until he joined Holywood FC before going to England to study journalism at Northumbria University.
But after returning to Northern Ireland to work in public relations he resolved that he wanted to entertain the public as an actor.
"I went to acting classes with a guy called Peter Ferris and he helped me a lot," says Cameron, who thought New York would be the ideal place to further his studies.
He successfully auditioned on Skype for the acclaimed Neighborhood Playing School of the Theatre in New York City where stars like Gregory Peck, Joanne Woodward and Robert Duvall are listed among the alumni.
Cameron says savings from his PR job, loans and backing from his parents helped him to finance the first phases of his course at New York before he took jobs in the city to support himself.
His gynaecologist dad is an associate and friend of Jim Dornan, whose son Jamie is now one of the world's most recognised film stars thanks to movies like Fifty Shades of Grey.
"Jamie and I would have watched football on the TV together with our dads. Manchester United were our team and we all went to Old Trafford too," he says. "I would love to follow in Jamie's footsteps and maybe work with him in the future. That would be fantastic."
In Cameron's final year at the New York theatre school he performed in a production that was close to home. Ourselves Alone by Belfast writer Anne Devlin was a play about the Troubles.
Cameron then starred in a short film Last Day by Juhui Kwon which won an award in the Miami Film Festival and he later founded an artists' collective with 10 other graduates from his college.
Called Oneiros Collective they set about producing work across a number of platforms including theatre, film and music.
Cameron played the lead role in their debut production of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead which sold out its run in a Brooklyn venue.
He then starred in a play called The Shadow Box in an off-Broadway theatre and had just finished work on a short film that he wrote and directed called French Picnic before the pandemic stopped work on all artistic endeavours in New York.
Cameron, whose brothers are at universities in England, says coronavirus changed everything for him.
He adds: "We were about to release French Picnic to film festivals and that would have been key for our visa applications.
"We were also in pre-production for a new play that I had written for a cast of 12 actors. "
Unfortunately the pandemic led to everything on the arts scene being suspended for the foreseeable future robbing Cameron of any opportunities to kick on with establishing his profile in the States.
The lockdown has also had a devastating impact on the moves by Cameron and his colleagues to renew their visas which run out in July and August.
His fellow apartment dwellers from England, France and Germany are also likely to be returning to Europe too because they haven't been able to pursue the process of visa renewal due to the current lockdown restrictions.
Cameron explains: "It's a shame but our little European Union of artists in our apartment has been halted in our tracks, just when things were looking so good for us.
"I'd been confident before the pandemic that my visa application might have been looked upon favourably because of the work I'd been doing.
"I was really happy in New York. My life was here and I'd built up a great network of good friends who I will clearly miss when I go home, though getting back to friends and family in Ireland will be fantastic."
If as expected Cameron has to return to the UK in the summer he's planning to explore new artistic avenues on this side of the Atlantic even though he knows the lockdown in Northern Ireland has brought the curtain down on theatre work here too.
But Cameron insists he's upbeat about the prospect of finding his feet at home, adding: "I'm excited in so many ways about entering the industry in the UK and Ireland as a fresh but experienced face.
"Obviously, America and New York in particular have provided me with amazing opportunities, but I would love to be part of the new breed of Irish talent that is emerging back home.
"Shows like Normal People and Derry Girls are just two successful examples but beyond that there is a whole generation of actors, directors, and writers ready to take on the industry and I feel that now is the perfect time for me to join in."
Cameron doesn't know if he'll return to America if and when the pandemic disappears. "Coronavirus has put everything into perspective for me. It has made me re-evaluate my life and realise that I can have a future back home."