Child star Aoibhine McFlynn was right at home rubbing shoulders with Hollywood stars like Gemma Arterton and Tom Courtenay on the set of recently released UK blockbuster Summerland.
She plays a schoolgirl in the Jessica Swale-directed flick, one of the first post-lockdown films to open in cinemas at the end of last month. It is also now streaming online.
Student nurse Edele McFlynn (37) travelled with daughter Aoibhine to Sussex in 2018 to film her scenes as Cassie, a Second World War evacuee from Belfast.
The mum-of-six, from Ballyronan near Magherafelt, revealed the role came about after her daughter was signed up with Alison Campbell’s modelling agency ACA Models.
“It was totally amazing. Honestly, it was such an experience, it really was,” she said.
“They flew us out to do her wee scenes and I think that it was the last week or so of filming for the movie.
“Aoibhine absolutely loved it. She got a taste of stardom and now she wants more.
“It’s brilliant because she had done a few bits and pieces before, but nothing like that.
“It’s all thanks to Alison Clarke and ACA Models. She’s done a bit of modelling for them as well.
“The role came in and she did a wee video to read for the part in 2018.
“We sent it away thinking nothing would come of it and the next thing she had got the role. I was like, ‘Oh my God’.
“Even when we were over there we were all pretty green to it and didn’t want to ask too many questions and stuff. We still can’t believe it was such a big movie. I’m still shocked.
“Seeing it all being filmed and the way it all happens with hair and make-up and all that, I couldn’t believe it.
“We were put up in a five-star hotel for the week and fed and everything. We had the real movie-star life for a few days. It was brilliant.”
The 11-year-old is also taking in her stride how she became showbiz pals with James Bond star Gemma Arteton and King of Thieves actor Courtenay.
“She loved every minute of it and got to meet the stars including Gemma and Tom. It’s a whole different world,” Edele said.
“Gemma was so nice, such a lovely girl and so natural and down to earth. They all are.
“You’re a wee bit afraid to talk to them at first, but they’re just normal people like ourselves. They just chatted away. It’s just their jobs, I suppose.
“We were just sitting in the room with all these people thinking, ‘Oh my God’. We got plenty of pictures with them and all that, which was great.
“Jessica Swale, the director, was lovely, I think this is her first feature film, so she was hoping to make an impact with it. A lot of work has gone into it.
“Aoibhine is loving life now, but she still has her feet firmly on the ground, thank God. She’s taking it all in her stride.”
Despite her pride in her daughter, Edele admitted to being nervous for Aoibhine as she took on her parts.
“As a mum, I was a wee bit nervous about it because you’re going into the unknown. I was a wee bit fearful, just hoping she got everything right,” she told Sunday Life.
“When she came home she signed up to a wee speech and drama group in case anything like this comes up again, but I was just fearful about her doing right. I was nervous for her, but she’s just so natural on the screen. When you see the movie her wee part is a small one but is definitely featured.
“It’s good. For such a big movie, we are well chuffed and we’re delighted and so proud of her.”
After returning home to Northern Ireland it wasn’t long before Aoibhine landed another gig — as part of Phoenix Gas adverts shown with the UTV weather.
“After that we came home and nearly straight away she got the Phoenix Gas advert,” Edele said.
“It was shortly after coming home towards the end of 2018. She went and filmed it and it has been running for nearly two years now.
“Every now and then we see her pop up on UTV weather and we’re all like, ‘Oh, there’s Aoibhine’.
“If anybody says to her about it she’s very modest. Honest to God, she actually doesn’t see what the big deal is, which is good, I suppose.
“She’s one of my six kids. They’re all signed up with Alison and ACA, so they’ve all done a wee bit of this type of work, but nothing quite like Summerland.”