By Eoin Ryan
Katie Jerromes is a Disneyland cast member at Disneyland Paris who has ‘made friends’ with Disney princesses such as Snow White and Merida during her time there. After growing up in Dunshaughlin, she is now residing and working in Paris, France, living her childhood dream.
How did you get from Dunshaughlin to Disneyland Paris
After I did TY (transition year)… me and my dad found Phoenix performing arts college in Dublin which basically you can do your A-levels which is equivalent to a Leaving Cert and It is the only place in Ireland that does it as performing arts. So i left in 5th year to do my last two years full time performing arts in Phoenix which was 9 till 5 or 6 everyday full time dancing and acting, and then they teach you how to get to colleges in the UK because Ireland for the performing arts industry and the dance industry is not great at all.
I auditioned in colleges in the UK and then I ended up going to Bodyworks company for three years. In my first year I broke my back which was not helpful, but lockdown happened which was a bit of a blessing for me because I managed to recover through that time. I did three years in Cambridge, and the same thing, singing, dancing, and acting 9 till 5 everyday, and then they also prep you to have classes like industry prep, musical theatre, jazz, everything you need to be prepped for auditions and it also preps you on how to get an agent. I graduated luckily with an agent as well and as soon as I graduated I moved straight to London because that is where all the auditions are for West End shows
Can you tell me about some of the shows you went to?
I did a lot of cruise ship audition shows which you don’t really know what they are for until you get to the end of it all. Then I auditioned for a show that was meant to come out on the West End called Cages but then I also did Cats in the Helix in Dublin. I did The Wizard of Oz with the performing Arts as Dorothy. I went to New York and performed Off Broadway with my singing teacher. She wrote her own original musical and I was lucky to be the (cap/top) of that.
What were the DisneyLand Paris Auditions like?
So they had open auditions for two days. I went on the first day. I was number 375 so there was so many people there. I don’t think the auditions started until 9 but I got there at 7 in the morning because when it’s an audition that is open, literally anybody can go. You don’t have to have an agent to put you in a room for it. Then they split you into waves and I was in the second wave of people.
The audition consists of the first round which is animation. They make you act out different scenarios and then they stand you all in your groups and cut whoever they do not want and keep whoever they do want for the next round.
I got to the next round which was the dance round. We did a dance combo and then, again, same thing, put people in smaller groups, watched that and then they did more cuts. They then measured everyone’s heights because height makes a very big difference in terms of what you can not do for the job over here. So they measured people’s heights and cut people from that.
Then they did some fittings and gave us a little card at the end saying ‘congratulations,’ and we had an online interview explaining the job and stuff like that and that we will be on their books but we are not guaranteed a place which was very stressful. Luckily enough, I got a call in a couple of weeks saying they had a place for me and wanted me to come over.
I was obviously so happy because for me it was a childhood dream from when I was little. I was six touring around Disneyland and I had my Snow White dress on and I was watching the parades. There was a Snow White parade on and I was getting very emotional. It was mad, but I was fine with the whole moving country because as soon as I turned 18 I moved from Ireland to Cambridge anyways. My family were really sad saying goodbye and I was just like “Bye, see you later I’m off to Disney”
What is it like working at DisneyLand Paris?
It is more than what I could have ever imagined. Everything I researched and watched Youtube videos on and followed people on TikTok for, I was trying to see an insight on it, but you do not know what it is actually like until you’re here. I absolutely love it. It does not feel like I have been working any day. I get to be friends with loads of these characters. I get to do parades which I absolutely love.
I am obviously in Disneyland every single day so I am very happy about that. I have made incredible friends here as well because when you get here you have temporary accommodation, so I was put in a room with a girl from Cyprus and she is now my best friend ever. Then I got another friend from Spain. You meet so many different cultures as well, but coming here was a big culture shock because French and Irish are very different people. Irish people are very loud and chatty and will say hi to anyone they see on the street while they are not like that over here.
There is also a massive language barrier because in our contract it says we do not have to speak French, we have to speak English or French, but getting here you do have to speak French. I have to pick up as much French as I can, which is very difficult when English is your first language.
What is a special moment you have had while at Disneyland?
I had one where I was friends with Snow White one of the days and we were in the princess pavilion which is where you get to meet and greet a princess and it is a surprise, you don’t know who you get to meet that day.
This little girl, she came in the SAP entrance, which is the special needs entrance and sometimes they have genie lanyards which means it is a make-a-wish thing. I had a little girl that came in and she was really quiet and shy and she would not speak. Eventually, I got her chatting to me and her mam was just really thankful. She was like ‘This was so worth it, you completely made our day. Thank you so much for everything,’ and that was just a very big moment for me where I went ‘Oh my god, I make people feel like this all the time and I don’t even realise how much it means to them’. That is definitely something I will always remember when I met that little girl.