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IFTA Awards Focus: Lead Actress Drama
14 May 2015 : Seán Brosnan
Charlie Murphy (above) is nominated alongside Maria Doyle Kennedy and first-time nominees Michelle Beamish and Caitriona Balfe
With just over a week to go until the 2015 IFTA Film & Drama Awards (24 May), we continue our coverage with a look at nominees of the Lead Actress Drama category which houses two first-time nominees as well as two previous winners.

The nominees include Caitriona Balfe (‘Outlander’), Michelle Beamish (‘An Bronntanas’), Maria Doyle Kennedy (‘Corp + Anam’) and Charlie Murphy (‘Love/Hate’).

Celebrating her first nomination (and also nominated for this year’s Rising Star Award), Caitriona Balfe returned to her first love of acting in 2009 after a very successful modelling career. After small roles in big budget films such as ‘Super 8’, ‘Now You See Me’ and ‘Escape Plan’, Balfe was cast as the protagonist in the time-travel series ‘Outlander’.

Both the series and her performance have received critical acclaim with publications such as Time, Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter singling out the actress for praise; the latter stating that Balfe is "reason enough to watch the show - she's a confident actress who brings various shades to her character."

Balfe is currently working on the thriller ‘Money Monster’ opposite George Clooney and Julia Roberts, which will be directed by Jodie Foster.

Also celebrating her first nomination this year is Cork actress Michelle Beamish. Her role in ‘An Bronntanas’ as the caring Róisín who is thrown into turmoil after her love interest finds drugs off the coast of Conemara has received critical acclaim.

Beamish will continue to see her stock rise as ‘An Bronntanas’ continues to sell around the world, currently at Cannes being sold by French distributor LE Rights.

Past roles of Beamish’s include ‘Eden’, ‘Scup’, ‘Sceal’, ‘An Crisis’, ‘Corp + Anam’ and ‘Vikings’ and she also played the lead role in writer/director Keith Farrell’s short film ‘Jubilee Nurse’ this year.

Like Beamish, Maria Doyle Kennedy is also nominated for an Irish-language drama – with her acclaimed Mairéad Mhic Iarnáias performance in ‘Corp + Anam’ getting recognised.

This is Maria’s sixth nomination and will be her third win if successful – after back to back wins in 2008 and 2009 for the internationally renowned series ‘The Tudors’. She has also garnered nominations ‘Albert Nobbs’, ‘Mystics’ and was nominated for ‘Corp + Anam’ also in 2012.

Maria starred in the Wachowski Brothers sci-fi blockbuster ‘Jupiter Ascending earlier this year and will be seen as one of the leads in John Carney’s new film ‘Sing Street’ later this year opposite Aiden Gillen and Jack Reynor.

A double nominee this year, Charlie Murphy is part of a group which includes Emer Reynolds, Ken Galvin, Andrew Scott, Terry McMahon, Gerard Barrett and David Holmes. Her performance in British series ‘The Village’ is also recognised in the Best Supporting Actress Drama category.

Murphy has already tasted IFTA glory before for her highly praised performance as embattled young mother Siobhan Delaney in gangster drama ‘Love/Hate’ – winning in this category in 2013.

Roles in the past 12 months have also includes ‘71’, ‘Philomena’, Northmen: A Viking Saga’ and the British television series ‘Happy Valley’.

The IFTA Film & Drama Awards takes place on Sunday, May 24 with TV3 airing a one hour special on the ceremony on Monday, June 1st.

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