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IFTN talks to Maureen Ward, Founder of Talented Kids Performing Arts School & Agency and MVW Talent Agency Ireland
02 Sep 2016 : Katie McNeice
September sees the nationwide rollout of new academic programmes, but also sees a new season of training in the arts.

We catch up with Maureen Ward, whose performing arts school and agencies have honed talent featured in recently released ‘A Date for Mad Mary’, the Oscar-winning ‘Philomena’ and ongoing soap series ‘Fair City’, to name a few.

She talks us through the early days of her school, how Ireland’s success has affected people’s interest in training, and some of the productions her students have been involved in.

IFTN: Tell us about the early days of the agency and what inspired you to found the Talented Kids Performing Arts School?

From a young age, Ward herself was deeply immersed in all aspects of performance, from music to opera. She came to love teaching as much as performance itself and founded the school in 2003.

Programs at the school ranged from modelling and dancing to drama, singing and theatre. Over the years, Ward began sending her students forward for auditions through the network of casting directors she crafted in her own time as a performer, which built a reputation for the school on a national level.

“What I have found in that my original students, who I would always have called ‘my kids’ ended up staying with me and turning into adults along the way. We then decided we were going to open up our adults agency about 3-4 years ago, and we were then officially MVW Talent Agency Ireland. We have adults on our books now and they are doing extremely well.”

She goes on to describe a newly initiated student in his 60s whose late start in the acting business has seen him return from Edinburgh in the last few days where he shot his first commercial. This same actor has also worked on a short film project in Spain this year and continues to go from strength to strength.

IFTN: What other recent successes have your students had in film and TV?

Ward describes how she put no less than four cast members forward for leading 2016 title title ‘A Date for Mad Mary’, which releases to Irish cinemas today, Friday September 2nd.

This not only includes lead actress Seána Kerslake (Mary) but Siobhan Shanahan (Leona), Kyle Bradley Donaldson (Gabba) and Susie Power (Rita). Kerslake was also put forward by Ward for her leading role in ‘Doll House’ directed by Kirsten Sheridan in 2012, which earned Kerslake an IFTA nomination for Best Actress in Film in 2013.

The agency has also trained siblings Tadhg and Saoirse Bowen, who are known for their roles in the Oscar-winning ‘Philomena’ directed by Stephen Frears in 2013.

IFTN: What other recent productions have your students been involved in, across both film and television?

Ward tells us they have a large number of recurring actors on long-running RTÉ series ‘Fair City’. These include Niamh Quirke (Rachel Brennan) who is currently on a scholarship to the New York Conservatory of Drama. Johnny Ward (Love/Hate, Mammal) is also known for his portrayal of Paulie on the series.

Susie Power (A Date for Mad Mary) also plays Ellie on the hit show and will feature in TG4’s upcoming ‘Junior Eurovision’ which was announced as part of its Autumn Schedule earlier this week. Power is known for her voice over work in animation, such as Telegael’s ‘Morton’ which is to be released later and additional projects with Disney and BBC.

Young talents Callum Maloney and Ava Connolly also major roles in feature animation ‘Two by Two’, also known by ‘Oops, Noah is Gone’. Orla Morris Toolan is another of the school’s students, who has her own presenting slot on Swipe TV, ‘OMG, It’s OMT.’

IFTN: Do you feel the success of Irish film and TV in the recent years has sparked more interest in the Arts among younger people and parents?

Ward agrees there has been a rise in the number of people looking for training in the last number of years, but not exclusively among aspiring professionals. Children are also encouraged to take classes in order to build confidence, adults to destress and teenagers to benefit from healthy outlets.

“From a well-being point of view, I feel that the arts is a very important thing for all kids, all teenagers, and for adults as well. We do have an agency as well, so if our students want to be put forward for work we can help with that. They have the added bonus that we can represent them as well.

You’re never too old to be in this business. It doesn’t matter what shape or size, or what way you look, there is always a part out there for you. What I love about this industry and especially about this country, there is a part that will fit every shape and size.”

Visit Maureen Ward Talent Agency online
Visit Talented Kids Performing Arts School online

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