My Mad Fat Diary star, Sharon Rooney, says show is helping to raise awareness of mental illness

by Anna Howell

Sharon Rooney, star of the new, and already hugely popular, E4 drama, My Mad Fat Diary, has revealed that one of the shows main objectives was to raise awareness of mental illness.

Rooney, who plays 16-year old Stamford girl, Rae in the E4 show, is actually from Glasgow, though you would never be able to tell whilst watching My Mad Fat Diary, of which she commented to the Metro newspaper: “Everyone’s surprised by the accent. But it’s not the proper Stamford one – though the locals said I got pretty close. Growing up as an only child, I spent a lot of time watching TV and copying accents. But I had friends too – don’t make me sound like a sad loser!”

In the show Sharon plays Rae, a teenager in the mid-1990’s trying to rebuild her life after spending time in an institute, and the show documents her struggles in doing so, on top of all the usual trauma’s that adolescence brings.

Sharon is actually eight years older than Rae, but revealed to the publication that she strongly relates to her character, and the experiences which she portrays her going through, which helped her more comfortable about her own experiences:

“It made me feel better. There’s a calm about her, I think she has a kind of inner confidence. I’m quite shy – it made me feel I could be more sure of me.”

The show, which debuted last Monday night was met with much praise for its originality and hysterical humour, however Sharon was quick to point out that, whilst agreeing that the show is funny, it is also helping bring awareness to the usually taboo subject of mental illness:

“‘I think what’s important about this show is we bring mental illness out into the open. It’s still taboo. You can talk about all kinds of things but telling people you have mental health problems is still really hard. Rae is struggling but she’s determined to not let her issues stop her living her life.”

She went on to explain how the show, one of her first acting experiences has been a real learning curve:

“There were ups and downs: you’d film a tough scene then the next would be funny. We show self-harm in a way you might not expect – but there’s also me getting stuck on a swimming pool slide…”

My Mad Fat Diary can be seen on Monday night’s at 10pm on E4 /E4 HD.

If you missed Monday’s episode catch it in full here: