Queen BEA

As an award-winning stand-up, actress and writer, Aisling Bea is doing her bit to promote gender balance in comedy - a cause that's close to her heart

She’s engaging, intelligent and a natural comic, and her words are like a waterfall of passionate debate. There is rarely a dull moment around the smart Aisling Bea. The 33-year-old isn’t content in just being a stand-up comedian. She’s also a writer; Channel 4 has commissioned her script for a sitcom co-written with Sharon Horgan. Bea also acted alongside Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’ and is the team captain on the comedy panel show 8 out of 10 Cats.

Bea’s father died when she was very young. Both she and her sister were brought up by their mum (a now-retired flat-race jockey) in County Kildare, Ireland. While intrinsically witty, Bea wanted to make everyone smile again after her dad passed away. “It was the one thing I could do – make them laugh, and ever since, I’ve used it as a tool to help me deal with stuff in the same way that other people might use music or art.” Being raised by strong women had a profound effect on her. “It’s been instrumental in my love of women and I’m naturally inclined towards them in everything I do.”

After gaining a degree in French and Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, she came to London to study Drama at LAMDA, an experience that left her underwhelmed. “I think it’s very important if you’re educating people for two years and working them that hard, that you make sure they leave with some business sense. A lot of very talented people didn’t know how to market or sell themselves, and you need to know that as well as how to act.” Since then, the acting work has been steady but ‘slow’, whereas with stand-up she was in her element. After just a year, she won the So You Think You’re Funny? Award (2012), making her just the second female-winner in the award’s 25-year history. She’s since won the British Comedy Award for Best Female TV Comic (2014).

Today, she’s in demand for both comedy and acting. We are excited to see her upcoming drama: BBC One/Hulu’s Hard Sun (opposite Jim Strugess and Agyness Deyn), the much-anticipated post-apocalyptic drama by the creator of Luther.

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