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People: We chat to Northern Ireland actress Jayne Wisener

By Kerry McKittrick

The 27-year-old actress is currently playing Princess Jasmine in Aladdin at Belfast’s Grand Opera House. Originally from Coleraine, she lives in London with her husband Wayne.

My husband, Wayne

We met at a birthday party through mutual friends in 2008. It was his friend's 30th and we pretty much started going out that night. The friend who invited me is notorious for being a bit of a matchmaker and quite a few of her matches have ended up married.

Wayne works for a bank in London. I don't think we ever get used to the fact that we might not see each other for seven weeks if I'm doing a show somewhere.

I was doing this job when I met him, though, so he's used to it by now and is very supportive.

On the other hand, there are times I'm not working and I'm around a lot. I like that he does something "normal" for work, because he thinks what I do is so special.

My best friend, Linzi Bacon

Linzi and I met on my first day at Coleraine High School and we were the only two people who had a packed lunch so we ended up eating together. We're still close friends now and she lives about half an hour away from me in England. I hadn't seen her for a while as she used to live in Middlesborough but since she's moved near me it's just like we're back at school again.

I also have a friend, Georgie Maguire, who I met when I was filming the student drama Six Degrees for the BBC over here a few years ago. I find Belfast is such a social place and I got to know her really well. She happens to live in London, too, so I get to see her all the time.

My parents

My dad John has retired and mum Margaret works as a classroom assistant. I also have a younger brother and sister, John and Gillian. They're both still in Northern Ireland and I'm staying with John and his girlfriend just outside Belfast while I'm here doing the panto.

I love coming home because I get nice meals cooked for me and get a little spoiled, like a student coming home from university.

There was a discussion when I was about 16 with my parents when they said I should concentrate on my studies and forget about acting. I don't actually remember it - my sister tells me about it - but I wasn't having any of it. I got into drama school and they've been hugely supportive of my career the whole way through.

They see the heartache of when I get so close to a part and just miss out - my dad calls it "hitting the goalpost". They're always the ones behind me telling me to keep going and that this is what I'm supposed to be doing.

Who I go to for advice

I normally talk to my dad if I need to chat about something. He's very level-headed and a great person to go to for advice.

When it comes to tips about applying make-up, I tune in to YouTube.

There are so many beauty tutorials there. In fact, I'm getting obsessed with them.

My mentor

Several people have helped me a lot. My speech and drama teacher who has always been very good to me also happens to be my great-aunt, Heather Wisener. She helped me get into drama school by picking my audition pieces and going over everything with me.

I was also involved in Music Theatre 4 Youth, and Jenny Cooke who runs that was very good to me. She asked me to join and then suggested that the acclaimed writer and director Jeremy James Taylor watch me in a production at the Millennium Forum. He taped me and passed it on to the casting director of the film Sweeney Todd, which I went on to perform in, and it all went on from there.

My celebrity crush, Johnny Depp

When I was 15, I was a big fan, but that was before Pirates of the Caribbean when everyone else started fancying him. I met him when I appeared in Sweeney Todd with him and he's really nice, but I don't fancy him as much any more.

Fantasy dinner party

I'd like to be entertained so I would invite Will Ferrell as I think he's hilarious in Anchorman.

Also, to make me laugh I would ask Dara O Briain as he has a very dry sense of humour and could also hold an intelligent conversation. Then, I'd ask Walt Disney to come - I would make him go back in time to create a Northern Irish Disney princess so I could play the part.

Finally, I'd ask Seth Macfarlane as it would be like having dinner with most of the cast of Family Guy.

  • Aladdin is running at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, until Sunday, January 18. For tickets and information, visit www.goh.co.uk

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