Daire McLeod

📷 : Ryan West / Stylist : Veronica Graye / Hair & MUA : Gabriela Banda

With Apple TV+’s reimagined revival of the 90s series Ghostwriter, Daire McLeod booked her first regular screen and lead character as Charli Allen, alongside a new cast for the recently-released Series 3. Other screen projects for Daire have included playing Lilith in Danger Force for Nickelodeon, Olivia the Gadget Wizard in T-Rex Ranch Dinosaur Adventures, and she filmed for Disney’s Coop & Cami Ask the World. Alongside her acting career, Daire is also a singer-songwriter, and she released Hey Honey recently, which was the first song she wrote on her guitar, and she has plans to release further music including single Learn To Count! and her debut album. Daire has launched her new charity Daire 2 Read, which she is hoping to expand in 2023. We chatted to Daire about her role of Charli Allen in Apple TV+ series Ghostwriter, performing in theatre and releasing her recent single Hey Honey.

In Series 3 of Apple TV+’s Ghostwriter, you star as Charli Allen alongside a new cast, do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role?

One hundred percent yes! If I had to make a highlight reel of my life, I’d say that was definitely one of the defining moments. I was going out to the theatre where I started my acting career to support some of my friends. I was just about to walk out of the door when my mom got a call. When I heard the news that I got the role I dropped to the floor and started crying.

Unfortunately, we never got it on video because my mom was so swept up in the emotions she didn’t press record! We’ve always got the memory in our mind though! It was also the coolest thing to go to my theatre and see the look on everyone’s faces when I told them I had to go film in Canada for six months. My best friend and I were screaming so loud that we got some weird looks from the theatre guests but it was so worth it. It was definitely a full-circle moment that changed my life forever.

Can you tell us about Charli and how is it having her as your first regular character on screen?

Charli and I both go by the motto “Daire to be Different!”. We are both super outgoing, quirky, and a beautiful crazy that can’t be dampened. Charli and I are glass-half-full thinkers and aren’t afraid to try something new. We sometimes forget to look before we leap but it’s only because we can’t wait for the next adventure. We always fight for what we believe in and we will give it one hundred and ten percent until the very end! I’m so blessed to play a character who hit so close to home, especially as my first big role! I wasn’t entirely like Charli though, because the only magic I knew was the magic of imagination. So, I trained with a magic coach for my big magician’s debut. I can actually get oohs and ahhs from an audience instead of pity claps with my tricks, ha! I got to go to set almost every day and be surrounded with magic, on and off screen. Getting to live out my dream for six whole months was a dream come true. So Charli Allen will forever have a sacred place in my heart!

What is Charli like to play and how was it reading the scripts for the first time?

Because Charli and I are similar on an almost scary supersonic level, playing Charli was like wearing a second skin. My favourite way to get into character would happen as we drove to set. I created a playlist called “Charli’s Epic Magical Playlist The Sequel” and in, I’m not kidding, maybe five minutes, I compiled SEVEN HOURS worth of songs for this playlist. I would always get pumped up while listening to it (my mom’s personal favourites were any of the Post Malone songs). I remember reading the scripts for the first time and looking at my mom going “this is going to be incredible”. We had a general idea of how the mystery would unfold, but we never really knew who did it or even how it would end! I remember when all of us read the final episode at the table read, we all collectively GASPED at the ending. One of the coolest parts was we never knew who the voice actors were either. So when it came out and said Jean Smart and Randall Park I was so excited, I started screaming! I think my favourite though was seeing Jay Baruchel as Ralph because the How To Train Your Dragon movies have always been a staple for me. So when I heard his voice on my TV I absolutely FREAKED OUT!!

How do you find the experience on set of the show and what is it like working with the rest of the cast?

Being on set is an incredible experience, in a country I’ve never been in before no less! I think one of the coolest things about filming Ghostwriter was it was almost like filming five mini-movies in the span of six months. Each new character brought drastically different locations to film in. Like the tunnels during the Mouse and the Motorcycle arc were where Nikola Tesla did some of his famous experiments harnessing the power of Niagara Falls. We got to film in old creepy cabins, in the regal University of Toronto, and my personal favourite, the yacht on Toronto Harbor! Not only did I get to work in incredible places, but I also worked with incredible humans. When the individuals you work with are equally great actors and great people, it makes an experience unforgettable. Every time you show up to set and bond with your castmates and crew, you further solidify your bond as more than just a team, you become a family, and Ghostwriter was the most fun family of them all!

What are you enjoying most about filming as a lead on an Apple TV+ series and how is it working on the reimagined revival of the 90s series Ghostwriter?

This may sound crazy, but I think my favourite thing about being a lead is the responsibility that comes with it. Let me explain; being a lead isn’t just about being a great actor. Being a lead means being a lead-er. When you choose a positive attitude, you can make your show a positive experience for everyone! Working on an Apple TV+ show was extraordinary already, but also a continuation of an iconic 90s franchise? Sign me up!! I had high expectations for the original because anything Samuel L. Jackson is in has got to be a masterpiece. 90s Ghostwriter definitely did not disappoint! I watched several of the first episodes and I loved it. I think one of the most magical things about being in this reboot is the reaction of people when I tell them about it. I’ve met so many of my parents’ friends who have told me “oh my gosh, Ghostwriter!? I loved that show when I was younger!”. It’s so special knowing I get to bring out people’s inner child again. Parents and kids can bond over old memories and create new ones together.

📷 : Ryan West / Stylist : Veronica Graye / Hair & MUA : Gabriela Banda

Who do you think Ghostwriter will appeal to and why would you recommend watching the new series on Apple TV+?

I think Ghostwriter appeals to dreamers, readers, activists, mystery enthusiasts, music lovers, the youngest, the oldest, and everyone in between. So essentially, Ghostwriter is for everyone! This season has a National Treasure type mystery, with tons of twists and turns that will leave you going “how did I miss that?!”. We also touch on important social topics that provide the gateway for meaningful conversations no matter how old you are. So not only are you watching a show that’s impossible to stop watching with all of the magic and mystery, you also have moments with an unmistakable heart and emotion that will make you cry, laugh, and jump for joy! Also, my mom’s friend’s son would rather watch Ghostwriter than the World Series and he’s a major baseball kid! So if Ghostwriter can compete with the World Series, I know we’re doing something right!

You played Lilith in a two-part episode of Danger Force for Nickelodeon earlier this year, how was it filming for the series?

Lilith was a blast! Lilith is a pirate waitress who’s a little too lovesick over her favourite local superhero Bose. Bose is her past, present and future, so she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make him say the same. Fun fact, I actually filmed Ghostwriter BEFORE I filmed Danger Force so it was basically going from one type of project to the complete opposite. I’ve always had a dream to be on Nickelodeon ever since I was five or six years old. I grew up watching all the Nick shows, but serendipitously I loved Henry Danger the most. Walking onto the lot where all of my favourite shows were made was a dream come true. I’m sure I looked pretty strange walking in like it was a toy store, LOL. Once I started filming Danger Force, it was a completely different ball game compared to Ghostwriter. When you move from set to set and you’re working entirely with mics hanging over your head (boom mics) it’s almost like live theatre (which made my theatre kid heart super happy). I think I have three favourite moments from set. One was when we all did our first walkthrough of the scene. When I started to do my flirty lines, everyone on set was dying laughing. Second place is getting to work with a real parrot on set! I remember I was so mesmerised by the parrot the first take, I completely forgot to say my lines. However, my most favourite moment by a landslide has got to be a blooper moment. Bose and Lilith were having a tug of war on the boat and we got so intense we accidentally knocked over the officially official cake and knocked the Bose topper’s head off! The funniest part was cake topper Lilith didn’t have a scratch on her!

What was it like playing Olivia the Gadget Wizard in T-Rex Ranch Dinosaur Adventures?

Olivia was my first taste of playing a villain and now I’m hooked! I got to work in a Simi Valley Park where a bunch of other iconic shots were filmed! They filmed scenes from movies like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Adventures of Robin Hood and most of the old Tarzan movies and more. I got to work with dinosaurs all day, so that was a bonus (well, not real dinosaurs, but it still counts!). I think T-Rex Ranch trained me for the CGI (computer-generated imagery) I would experience in Ghostwriter. I got to film my last T-Rex Ranch scene while I was filming Ghostwriter in Canada! Olivia gets teleported to a gadget college in Alaska and because it was so snowy in Canada we decided to film the scene there! So contrary to what Olivia tells you, Gadget college is really in Canada 😂!

We understand you have also filmed for Coop & Cami Ask the World, how was this?

Coop & Cami was the first multi-cam I ever filmed, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I had the best time filming with the Disney family. Everyone was so kind, and I hope to work with Disney again soon! I also got my first experience with a non-human actor – a tarantula! It was very fuzzy and bigger than my hand! It was also quite the Hollywood star. It had its own handler, crate, and even its own van! It was quite the movie star arachnid.

You have also worked in musical theatre, do you have a favourite aspect of performing on stage?

It’s really hard to give a favourite because theatre is such a big part of my life, but I love that theatre allows me to combine my love of singing, acting and dancing at the same time. I feel like my life sometimes is a musical because when I’m feeling emotions so raw and intense I can’t process them using words, I sing about them! I love that by using music, a character can truly speak to an audience while singing. I think one of my favourite musical theatre songs to sing is Astonishing from Little Women because I LOVE a great power ballad and it’s combined with a strong woman deciding to choose her own destiny. What’s not to love?! Another aspect I love is the ability to interact with an audience. I like to think of performing as a never-ending electrical circuit. When you give your energy to an audience, the audience reacts and doubles the energy. When they send that love back to you, I truly think it is one of the best things you can feel. Imagine the biggest hug ever mixed with a whole swarm of butterflies, and triple that feeling! On stage, you can feel an audience’s emotions, and when you manage to make a theatre full of five hundred or more people laugh, cry, clap, sing, you know you’re doing the best thing about being an actor; you are changing people for the better.

Can you tell us about some of the other acting projects you’ve been involved with over your career so far on both stage and screen?

On stage, I was Lucy in Charlie Brown Christmas, which is still the highest-grossing show at my local theatre! I also was in Mysteries at the Museum where I was a child dying from arsenic (morbid, I know 😅). I got to sit in the makeup chair getting boils and discoloration on my face for two hours. However, the lovely conversations I had with the make-up artist made the time go by super fast! The coolest part about filming was going to a historic mansion in New Jersey and my dad, being a history buff, was in heaven.

📷 : Ryan West / Stylist : Veronica Graye / Hair & MUA : Gabriela Banda

As a singer-songwriter, you recently released your single Hey Honey, what can you say about the track and what was it like to work on?

Hey Honey is a windows rolled-down, scream at the top of your lungs, kind of song! Hey Honey was the first song I ever wrote on my guitar. It was a beautiful day outside and I was soaking up the sun. It reminded me of the days spent with my country cousins. When we get together we make s’mores, play dominos, listen to Kenny Chesney on the boat and run through the pastures barefoot (not always my favourite part because of sticker burs!). The memories of those happy days make me smile, and all of a sudden, a lightbulb went off! I ran into my music room and wrote down the lyrics while playing my guitar. I ran and played it for my mom and one of my country cousins on FaceTime, and my country cousin said “you’ve gotta record that song ’cause it’s a hit!”. I really want Hey Honey to make people smile. Sometimes when I’m feeling glum, I put on my favourite song and I feel a million times better! I hope that Hey Honey can be that song for everyone else because we all need a song to smile about!

How has it been seeing the listeners’ response to Hey Honey and do you have any upcoming music plans?

Everyone’s response has been incredible! I’m so lucky to have so many people who have shown so much love and support for what I do. Seeing pictures sent from my friends and family of my song on in their car or them dancing to it makes me so excited for the next song I have coming out. My next single is called Learn To Count! and it’s more of an indie pop, Billie Eilish, sounding song. I also have several other songs in the works for an upcoming debut album. Be sure to stay tuned for more music coming out soon!

Where does your love of acting and music come from and how did you get into both?

I owe my love of performance to my parents. When I was super little I was in everything you could imagine. Volleyball, dance, acting, sailing, you name it, I probably did it. As I was seeking to find my true passions, it was the love of theatre that (no pun intended) took centre stage. My first show was The Jungle Book and I was Monkey Number Three! I had one line and I’m pretty sure I missed my cue, lol! From that one moment, an entire future blossomed in my mind. My love of music was less like a lightning strike and more like a growing wave! When I show people my playlists they always think my phone must have been hacked by a BUNCH of people. I was taught at a young age to appreciate all types of music! I go from 80s hair metal (thank you, Dad!) to Amy Winehouse and classic jazz (thank you, Mom!) and everything in between! So as soon as I started playing guitar, piano and ukulele, I naturally started making my own music. Both my passion for music and acting allows me to express myself and connect with the entire world. It’s crazy to think that someone I don’t know a million miles away, could hear my song or watch a show I’m in and feel instantly connected with me. That’s why I want to do this forever. If I can touch people all around the world doing what I love, I don’t think I could ask for anything more.

What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch and music artists to listen to?

My favourite movie is Notting Hill! I’m such a hopeless romantic so some of my favourite movies are definitely romcoms, but Notting Hill definitely takes the cake because I’ve always wanted to be like Julia Roberts in that movie and have someone confess their love to me in a press junket! Clueless is another one because of the incredible fashion and the hilarious dialogue. However, I love Back To The Future and I’m totally asking for a DeLorean as my first car! My favourite TV show of all time is Glee because it’s a comedy with singing, dancing and Kristin Chenoweth! I also really love The Office and I must have watched it four or five times. The Jim and Pam romance is iconic, and stapler in jello never gets old. The musicians I love are kind of all over the place. I love Halsey, Post Malone, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Joan Jett, Prince, Yaz, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Kenny Chesney, just to name a few (I told you my playlists are all over the place!).

What are you hoping the upcoming year brings for you?

I’m hoping to start expanding my new charity called Daire 2 Read. I’ve loved reading ever since I can remember. Reading is a superpower because it can take you anywhere you want to go! Unfortunately, not everyone gets to enjoy these stories, so I strive to change that. My mission is to put a book in the hands of any child who wants one, and I want to keep spreading as much knowledge as I can around the globe. I am also writing my own scripts which I want to direct and star in. My goal is to be a young Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling. I’m also learning to produce my own music, and I’ve already started recording more songs. I’d love to be a girl power, superhero so I can inspire girls to do anything! I’d also love to be in a Glee reboot or anything where I can act, dance and sing at the same time. Finally, I want to fill up the world with as much love and kindness as I can. When you put love out in the world, the world gives love back!

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