'Impossible' | 

Young Offenders star Demi Isaac Oviawe ‘missed out’ on roles due to lack of Irish passport

The 22-year-old was born in Nigeria but moved to Mallow with her mother when she was just two years old.

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Young Offenders star Demi Isaac Oviawe has opened up about missing out on roles because she didn’t have an Irish passport.

The 22-year-old was born in Nigeria but moved to Mallow in Cork with her mother when she was just two years old, with her father following soon after.

Demi, who played Linda Walsh in The Young Offenders TV series, was one of 3,300 people who were granted Irish citizenship at four ceremonies in Killarney yesterday and today.

Speaking to PJ Coogan on Cork's 96FM, she revealed that she has had to give up acting gigs in London over visa complications.

“I had auditioned for a big production, and got the part,” she explained.

“They wanted me to fly over to London for rehearsals but with just two weeks' notice, as a Nigerian in Ireland, I knew I would have to get a visa to go to rehearsals.

“But the process is so long and tedious, including providing documentation of work for just a few days in London, it proved impossible given the limited time frame.

“So, I missed out as I could not leave the country without an Irish passport.”

Demi said that customs workers are often shocked when they see her passport due to her strong Cork accent.

“I didn’t have a passport until I was 16 and it was a Nigerian one,” she said.

“That was my only option at that time as I had to get one because I was going on a school trip.

“Nigerian passports are green. When you go through customs or immigration people ask what the purpose of your visit is. I tell them that I live here and my Cork accent becomes stronger when I let them know.

“They’d be asking ‘Is this yours?’. Obviously, they don’t take that into consideration in other countries.

“The passport has made things a lot easier. I have a lot of work coming in now so it’s going to be smooth sailing. I’m just so excited now.”

She admitted that she doesn’t remember moving to Ireland as a toddler but said she does recall “landing in Mallow”.

“I don’t remember any of the moving,” Demi shared.

“I just remember landing in Mallow. I have always been here. I came here with my mother and my dad followed shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, both of them passed.

“I don’t know the technicality of why we came here. All I know is that they came here for a better life like any parent would want for their child.

“My first ever memory of arriving was being in the sitting room and eating rice. Everything else is just a blur because I was so young.”

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