2020 vision: The Northern Ireland stars set for meteoric rise over next 12 months
This year looks set to be another big one for NI with talent from the world of music, fashion, film & TV putting the country under the spotlight for all the right reasons.
If you haven't heard the name JC Stewart on your airwaves yet then chances are you soon will. He's been championed by BBC Radio 1, counts Lewis Capaldi as a friend - they partied together in Belfast in November at the Bullitt Hotel - as well as a co-writer, played the new music stage at Snow Patrol's Ward Park 3 concert and now 2020 is shaping up to be the Magherafelt singer's biggest year to date as he prepares for his first headline tour of the UK and Ireland, including a date at The Limelight, Belfast, on May 28.
Fusing punk, rock and garage with punchy vocals, all-girl Derry/Londonderry trio Cherym picked up the publicly voted for Oh Yeah Contender Award at this year's Northern Ireland Music Prize bash. Formed in 2017, the group's swaggering, devil-may-care attitude has won them a legion of fans, with that support sure to grow over the next 12 months.
Belfast-based Egyptian rapper, vocalist and DJ Dena Anuk$a is set for big things in 2020 with the release of her self-produced debut EP Honey and Cream. Tipped by BBC Radio Ulster's Across the Line as one to watch in 2020, Dena is herself an avid supporter of the local music scene acting as a mentor to young musicians and artists at the Oh Yeah Centre.
Nominated for an Urban Music Award and with well over 400,000 streams on Spotify, Jordan Adetunji is set for big things on both these shores and further afield. Part of a new wave of rap and R&B, the Belfast teen's sound blends soul, afrobeat and funk for a fresh new take on the genre and his lyrics tackle themes such as self-reliance and mental health.
TV & film
Northern Ireland's popularity as a filming location shows no sign of waning with a spate of television shows set to be filmed here this year. In addition to season three of Lisa McGee's Derry Girls and the return of crime thriller Line of Duty for a sixth series comes Bloodlands, a BBC drama starring James Nesbitt. Written by Chris Brandon, filming is expected to take place around Belfast and Strangford. Commenting on the series, Nesbitt said: "It's great to be back making a drama in and about Northern Ireland, which now has a film and television industry as good as any in the world."
Filming has already begun in Northern Ireland on contemporary psychological thriller, The Deceived, written by Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee and Tobias Beer for Channel 5. Due to air later this year, the four-part drama stars Peaky Blinders' Emmett J Scanlan and Catherine Walker from Shetland and Versailles. A compelling, sinister narrative of lust, manipulation and betrayal, the show's central character is English student Ophelia who falls in love with her married lecturer. When their affair results in a shocking and tragic death, Ophelia finds herself trapped in a world where she can no longer trust her own mind.
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Game of Thrones fans have been anxious for news of a spin-off since the Jane Goldman production starring Naomi Watts was axed but a return to Westeros is imminent with the HBO show, House of the Dragon.
While details are thin on the ground at this stage the narrative is set to focus around the Targaryens, roughly 300 years before the events of GoT and it seems likely some of the original locations here in Northern Ireland will be revisited during filming. Reports last week said it will be 10-episodes long.
Belfast-born writer and director Stacey Gregg makes her feature debut with the psychological thriller, Here Before. Filming in Belfast early this year, the film stars Bafta-nominated actor Andrea Riseborough, Jonjo O'Neill, Martin McCann and Eileen O'Higgins and revolves around a bereaved mother who begins to question her reality after new neighbours move in next door.
Filmed in locations including Glenarm Village, Belvoir Forest Park and Finnebrogue Forest, Second World War drama, The Windermere Children is due for release in 2020.
Based on a true story about the child survivors, and presumed orphans, of the Holocaust who were brought to Lake Windermere in 1945 to have the opportunity to recover surrounded by nature under the watch of Oscar Friedmann (played by Thomas Kretschmann), a German-born child social worker and psychoanalyst.
The third season of detective series Marcella is set to air this year and sees DS Marcella Backland, as played by Anna Friel, undercover in Belfast. The actress spent more than five months filming in the city last year, regularly sharing updates from locations including Belfast City Hall and the Titanic Quarter to her social media followers.
Newcomer Nicola Boyle gets her first major acting role in Colin Broderick's film A Bend in the River. The 28-year-old from Tyrone stars alongside Derry Girls' Kathy Kiera Clarke and John Connors in the production which is Broderick's second film after 2016's critically acclaimed Emerald City.
Named as Gold Movie Awards' Best Actress for the month and nominated for the annual award for her role in the short film Grounding, 19-year-old Victoria McClements' future looks bright. The actress is already a familiar face on the local musical theatre circuit in her hometown of Antrim and has regularly appeared in productions in both the MAC and Grand Opera House in Belfast.
She made her film debut in A Bump Along the Way starring alongside Bronagh Gallagher and now 24-year-old Belfast actress Lola Petticrew has three more films set for release in 2020; Shadows, Beards and Here Are the Young Men. With critics describing her performance in A Bump Along the Way as "smart, focused, sensitive" it seems Petticrew's star has only just begun its ascent.
CMPR model Sophie McGibbon has just been signed to Major Models in Milan and will travel there later this month for shoots. The willowy blonde has already been a cover girl for Northern Woman magazine and is a regular face on the Belfast Fashionweek catwalks.
The Style Academy's Victoria Bustard is celebrating after signing to Boss Model Management in Manchester following her move to university in Liverpool. The 19-year-old from Hillsborough has also been to Milan for a couple of shoots with Major Model Management and done campaigns here for Dunnes stores, The Boulevard Banbridge and is a favourite of local designer Sara O'Neill. She has also had interest from an American director who is currently considering her for a part in a movie being filmed here next year.
Another Style Academy signing, Lauren Burton, looks set for big things with international agencies already expressing an interest in the Londonderry teenager. The 16-year-old won the Face of Fashion Fest run by Derry City and Strabane District Council in association with Style Academy last year and has been busy working on campaigns for local companies such as O'Neill's sportswear, Sass and Halo and DV8.
Style Academy director Tracey Hall said: "We introduced Lauren to Major Model Management in Milan who think she has potential to work internationally and are monitoring her progress until she is old enough to travel and work abroad. With her fresh face and superbly toned body, we'd say Lauren is definitely one to watch."