Having a radio show is pretty remarkable, as is having your films shortlisted for prizes at festivals around the world. Twenty year old National Film School student Laura Gaynor has done both, amongst other things, through pure perseverance.
She’s unassuming though – as she arrives to our interview wearing a college hoodie, holding a flask of tea and a packet of biscuits. She looks, talks and acts just like a regular college student, with no hint of egomania. Laura currently presents a weekly show, Needs More Cowbell, on 2XM, as well as a show as Gaeilge on Raidio na Life.
The Sligo native started her hunt for media fame in gaining work experience with iRadio, who she listened to “I just landed on it and thought, yeah! I wasn’t allowed watch a lot of TV with two younger brothers so…I used to listen to the radio the whole time”.
After several years of “complaining on the radio”, Laura eventually managed to grab work experience with various places over her secondary school years, including on the BBC, and now presents on RTÉ 2XM and Raidió na Life. “I haven’t done a whole lot of radio stuff outside of that”, she shrugs. “I love radio. It gives you an excuse to be creative and…if I see something interesting I think “Oh I can talk about that on the radio!” It keeps you on your toes”.
As well of this, Laura is a second year student in the National Film School and works with SpunOut.ie, as well as Youtubing and blogging regularly. Having been published in the Irish Times, Irish Independent and Broadsheet.ie, Laura doesn’t consider herself a filmmaker, radio presenter or a journalist “It depends what I’m doing at the time!”.
“I do radio because you can be yourself…I can be loud, I can exaggerate, it really gives me an outlet” she says, before reminiscing about her worst and best experiences on air. “Once I was on work experience, sitting in the presenter’s end of the studio and my phone went off. It was “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson and I couldn’t get my phone out of my pocket”.
She’s proudest of the “Quiz gan Trocaire”, a quiz she presents weekly on Irish radio station “Raidio na Life”. “It’s mental”, she giggles, “and totally merciless”. 2XM is a digital radio show where “we try to do a little bit extra”. She considers the name to reflect the content of the show -- it’s a mix of music, chat and interview. “It’s based around music, but Needs More Cowbell reflects our attitude, too”.
Being from Sligo, Laura turns quite a few heads when she goes home. “People don’t ask me how I’m doing, they ask me what I’m doing, and it does get tiring” she says, as here in Dublin she says that she knows many people who work in the media as much as she does. “It’s surreal, going back to the normal world at first” she admits, but now it seems that her “normal world” is the media world.
Does she ever get taken down a peg at home, I ask? “I have a lot more self-confidence now…I don’t want to act like I was when I was younger, but [in Sligo] they still see me as a fifteen year old” she says, and admits to downplaying her activities when she goes home. “the price of fame”, I comment drily, though I wouldn’t want to have to answer questions about being young constantly, like she does.
When chatting about the future, Laura is remarkably chill. “Sometimes when I’m working on a film, I think “this is so much money, so much stress…it’s not worth it! But other times I think “Oh yeah, these are my people!”. There’s ebb and flow between stress and enjoyment, she says, so the future is wide open for her. “Fundamentally, I just want to make cool stuff”, which is a pretty good attitude for anyone who wants to work in creative industries, I think.