Emma Cooney

13 January 2021

“I’m Emma Cooney! I’m from Cardiff and I’m an Actor and a Writer.
I’m currently in my final year of Drama School (LAMDA). This year I’ve written Belly Buttons (Sherman TEN) and Goodbye Memory Lane (Heart of Cardiff) for the Sherman Theatre.

Being a creative woman in Wales is important to me because I’ve grown up watching plays at the Sherman and The Other Room and watching the women on stage and thinking ‘I want to be like them’ – ‘I want to do that’. Then reading Welsh plays and recognising myself and my voice in them and thinking ‘I want to be in that’ and ‘I want to write like that’. I’d love to create work that Welsh girls see or read and think ‘that’s a bit of me’- ‘I can do that too’.

When I was little I loved writing short stories, I even wrote a book when I was like 11. But I started writing for theatre in my gap year. I didn’t have much confidence about getting into drama school or getting jobs so I decided to write my own stuff, in order to hire myself and my mates. I gave myself a month to write a play. And I’ve been writing ever since. The drive to write has been about freedom for me. Freedom to tell the stories I want to tell. Freedom to hire myself. And freedom to write the messy, funny women I want to play.

The Sherman Theatre has changed my life and I will be eternally grateful. I went to youth theatre as a shy 14 year old and now they’ve produced my audio play! Heart of Cardiff has given me the tools to construct a story, confidence in what I bring to projects and experience in meetings. Working with Matthew Holmquist and the team at the Sherman was lush. It was really important to me to be taken seriously as a writer and feel like everyone believed in me and the story I was telling. (Which was a story about my amazing Mum, and my grandparents!).

I’m in my final year of Training at LAMDA and trying to put on third year shows during Covid is… difficult. I’ve completed my first show; Love and Information, directed by Taio Lawson. And I’ve just finished shooting ‘The Strange Disappearance of Aila Hydrii’; a short film written and directed by Michelle Bonnard. I can’t wait to share this beautiful all female film in the new year! After Christmas, we’ll be doing more shows – with hopefully an audience, (if not there will be live streams of them!) Regardless of how disrupted this last year is, LAMDA has been a life-changer and I’m excited to work on at least 3 more plays in the new year.

I’m empowered by seeing so many other Welsh Women bossing it and I’m in awe of the TALENT of the Welsh women I’ve worked with. I love how supportive other women have been and that we make space for each other.

My biggest challenge as a creative woman is giving myself permission. Permission to take my space. Permission to write what I want. Permission to email people. Permission to shout about my work. Permission to ask for help. Permission to put myself out there. I often feel that reaching out equates to bugging people. My biggest challenge is telling that voice in my head to shut up and just show people my work.

What’s next for me… Graduate from LAMDA in Summer 2021– hopefully Corona will let us put on some shows (with audiences). I want to write write write. Write good stuff, bad stuff and everything in between. I’d love to say by the time I’ve graduated that I’ve written a sick one-woman show… that I can take to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival… stay tuned.”

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