ACTRESS Demi Isaac Oviawe has told how she believes Ireland needs to represent more minorities on screen.
The Young Offenders star, 19, was born in Nigeria and moved to Cork when she was just three years old.
But Demi says she never felt represented by the Irish media, which has traditionally relied on white and native Irish personalities.
The ex-Dancing with the Stars contestant said: “Growing up, I saw no one in the Irish media who looked like me — they were all blonde or ginger.
“I knew I wanted to be in entertainment but I felt I couldn’t do it. I thought then that maybe I’d be a teacher instead. There was just no one like me already doing it.
“It’s discouraging and it’s heartbreaking. The media needs more diversity still. Right now, on my street if I look out, I can see six ethnicities. I don’t see that on screen.
“I want more Polish accents, more Russians, more Asian minorities, even more Australians. I don’t want to hear the same accents.
“It’s hard when you’re growing up and you just see one type of person in the media.
“I don’t want people cast for the sake of it. They should be cast for their talent.”
Demi believes Ireland doesn’t have the same racism levels as some other countries may have — but she thinks there’s a need to educate people more.
‘THERE STILL IS RACISM’
Speaking as she virtually launched the VHI Virtual Women’s Mini Marathon, race ambassador, she said: “Ireland isn’t as bad as the US or the UK but there is still racism.
“It’s not just ‘Oh you spat at me’, racism is in people’s behaviours and the way they address you.
“Racism isn’t just physical, it’s also mental and emotional. I’ve dealt with it my whole life.
“We’re all the same and we’re all going in the same hole in the ground at the end of the day.
‘WE WANT EQUALITY’
“When Black Lives Matter happened, I think people finally understood we want equality. If you say things like ‘All lives matter’ — you’re an idiot.
“I want to see more ethnicity on TV but also more teachers and gardai — I want to see more colour across the board.”
Demi is taking part in the VHI Virtual Women’s Mini Marathon, which kicked off this week and allows participants to take on a 10k any time between now and October 10.
The star — who lost both her parents to cancer — is hoping that by running 1km a day until the finish date she can help raise vital funds for the Irish Cancer Society.
Demi explained: “I lost my mum to breast cancer when I was four or five and my dad passed away four years ago when I was 15 going on 16.
Black History Month
OCTOBER is Black History Month, which each year celebrates some of the unforgettable achievements and contributions made by black people.
From screen to sport, Ireland’s black community have made a massive contribution to our heritage and culture.
Yet, the battle for diversity, representation and an end to racism still persists.
This year’s Black Lives Matter movement has shone a light on the need for society as a whole to change.
“Cancer is something I’ve always been aware of and of course with breast cancer it’s something I’ll always have to think about in case it affects me too.
“It hurts to lose them so young but I have a great support system around me.
“My stepmum fills the role of both mother and father and one of my uncles lives with us. We’re there for each other.”
The third series of Young Offenders finished up last month and Demi, who plays Linda Walsh, admits she’s in the dark about whether there’ll be another series.
‘JUST HERE CHILLING’
Demi, who is studying radio broadcasting in college, said: “I’d love if it came back. We just don’t know. I’m just here chilling.
“I’m hoping it comes back and they take us to Spain. That would be so cool. There’s nothing happening at the moment, I can’t hype it up.
“I’ve started writing myself. I don’t think there’s anyone in the industry who isn’t writing at the moment.
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“It’s not like what they teach you in English classes. It’s a comedy — I hope it makes it to TV some day.”
The VHI WMM was due to take place in June but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis.
To take part in the virtual event, sign up for €10 at Vhiwomensminimarathon.ie. The price includes an exclusive t-shirt and finishers medal.