Photo: Helen Warner

Ursula Rani Sarma, scriptwriter, director, poet and educator

Name and position: Ursula Rani Sarma, scriptwriter, director, poet and educator

Age: 41

Lives: London, UK

Family: One husband and three children.

Pets: Sadly none at present though a Jack Russell is on my list.

Favourite thing about Cork: The people.

Least favourite thing about Cork: The rain.

One thing you’d change about Cork: See above.

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

When I was younger, I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I loved the idea of it, it was just the maths and physics that I had a problem with…

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I fell in love with the theatre while at UCC and spent more time writing and directing plays than focusing on my studies. Luckily it paid off, and after winning some awards at the annual Irish Student Drama Association (ISDA) in 1999, I was sent to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to write and direct a new play called ‘…touched…’. The success of this play managed to secure several commissions with theatre companies in the UK and a residency at the National Theatre in London. I have never looked back. I moved across into screenwriting some years after and now work between both mediums.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

The writing itself - sometimes joyful, sometimes painful, but always compulsory.

What motivates you?

It fluctuates between a need to get the words down on paper and a need to meet a deadline. It is mostly the latter at present.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Care less about what people think - you won’t remember their names down the line.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

I would have liked to have worked in music as a singer/songwriter.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

My children, no contest.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My mother and her incredibly positive outlook on life, and her endurance.

What is the life dream now?

Health, and as much happiness as possible.

How do you switch off?

I’ve been practising transcendental meditation for years now. It is brilliant for resetting yourself and bringing you back down to earth.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

There are too many to choose from. I met my best friends in Cork and started writing and directing plays here. It will always be my favourite city.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

I love walking down by St Finbarr’s Cathedral, preferably at sunset, looking out over the city.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

‘Don’t look left or right but straight ahead.’ I find this useful as an artist, because it reminds me to stay focused on what I’m trying to achieve creatively and to not be distracted by the noise around me.

When are you at your happiest?

With my family and friends, preferably near the sea at home in West Clare.

Any regrets?

None. The mistakes and the bad choices only make you stronger in the end.

What is your hidden talent?

Making pancakes both crepes and silver dollar - I have both down to a fine art.

What might we be surprised to know about you? I am the course leader of the masters in scriptwriting at Bath Spa University. I never had the opportunity to study the art of dramatic writing, so enabling people to do so and to take their work to the next level is enormously gratifying.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Please try and avoid using single use plastic! We have an entire planet to clean up, so we need to start now.