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Netflix Debut for School Starlet

Published by Brentwood School on Monday 12th of December 2022

Brentwood School starlet Delilah O'Riordan has made her Netflix debut starring in festive comedy drama Christmas on Mistletoe Farm which has opened globally to rave reviews.

Year 7 Performing Arts Scholar, Delilah is no stranger to the spotlight and, at the tender age of 11, is already credited with an impressive stage and screen acting CV. Christmas on Mistletoe Farm is currently in the top ten most watched films on Netflix in 59 countries.

The Netflix project saw her rubbing shoulders with showbiz royalty including Celia Imrie, best known for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Calendar Girls and Absolutely Fabulous, and Scott Garnham, whose credits include Pompidou and Billy Elliot The Musical.

Christmas on Mistletoe Farm, directed by Debbie Isitt - who wrote and directed all four Nativity! films - is about a widowed father, who after inheriting a farm at Christmastime makes a bumpy adjustment to village life while his children hatch a plan to stay there forever.

The movie was filmed in Birmingham and around the West Midlands in Spring 2022. Delilah, who plays the eldest of the five siblings, Rosie Cunningham, explained: "Working on Christmas on Mistletoe Farm has been without a doubt the most magical adventure of my life so far. We, the five Cunningham siblings, lived in a hotel near the set for six weeks and by the end I felt as though I really did have four new younger siblings.

“I love them all and we will be friends for life. Our days on set were filled with amazing things such as cycling, quad biking, swimming, singing, dancing, cuddling newborn animals and so much more. A real kid's dream. The adults in the cast were all so warm and friendly and in particular, Scott Garnham (my dad in the film) and Scott Paige (Beano) who made us laugh every day and supported us. I called them Scott Dad and Scott Beano. I am also very fond of Celia Imrie who is just one of most wonderful people you could ever meet. Debbie Isitt, the director, is a complete genius and I learned so much from working with her. I will always be grateful to her for choosing me to be part of this incredible project.”

Delilah, whose dream is to be a professional film and musical theatre actress, was always destined to tread the boards having first appeared on stage as a little tot. Proud mum, Dr Michelle O’Riordan, takes up the story: “Delilah started acting when she was very young. My son, Benjamin in the Upper Sixth, joined the Wesley Players in Upminster for their annual pantomime when Delilah was a newborn. When she was one she was desperate to join them on stage and ended up in the arms of a lead character for the finale. By the time she was three, she had her own lines and played the part of a fairy in Sleeping Beauty. The pantomime review said that she stole the show. She has continued to be part of the Wesley Players ever since.”

Over the past three years, Delilah's resume has flourished. She was scouted to play the lead role in a production of The Canterville Ghost at the Brookside Theatre in Romford when she was eight, and fresh from this role, she went on to play Young Éponine in the new production of Les Misérables in the West End. With nine months left in this role, Covid struck and Delilah was in the theatre about to perform the night the theatres closed. During lockdown she grew too tall for the role.

In January this year, Delilah appeared in an episode of the popular BBC period drama Call the Midwife. She also filmed two short films in 2022: the first, a short by director Hannah Renton, and the other, by the same director, became a family affair when she starred alongside her little sister, Jasmine, and big brother, Benjamin.

She was also part of the cast for the London Children's Ballet's production of Anne of Green Gables at the Peacock Theatre in May, rehearsing around filming for Christmas on Mistletoe Farm. And she even has time to fit in her music; she is grade 6 classical singing, grade 6 musical theatre singing, grade 4 violin and grade 4 piano.

But as mum, Dr O’Riordan explained, things could have been very different: “Delilah suffered from severe glue ear causing deafness from the ages of four to eight. We were told that most people with her level of hearing loss would give up academically and become disruptive. Delilah didn't do either of those things and this hearing loss makes her achievements all the more remarkable. She is the most tenacious person I know.

“I am incredibly proud of Delilah's drive, determination and organisation while working on this project. It warmed my heart to witness her happiness during the weeks of filming and I saw her grow both as an actress and a person. In the film, Rosie Cunningham cares for her younger siblings and as the oldest of the five I am told Delilah genuinely supported her film family both on and off set.”

Brentwood School Director of Performing Arts and Music, Mr Florian Cooper, said: “Delilah has already made an impressive start as a Performing Arts Scholar at Brentwood School and we are thrilled with the early success she is achieving in the professional world - her hard work, dedication and maturity are very impressive for one so young, and I very much look forward to seeing her journey unfold over the coming years.”

And such success does take a lot of effort; Delilah, who is represented by Byron’s Management agency, trains with LAMDA, is an associate at The Dang Academy, and has regular singing and dancing lessons, however, all her hard work is paying off. She has just been cast in another exciting film which, for now, is being kept under wraps…….
Watch this space!
Netflix Debut for School Starlet - Photo 1
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