Miss Belfast finalist and Blue Lights TV production assistant: ‘I often say that Belfast is like the Hollywood of the British Isles’

Stacey Burns (25), from Lisburn, is a production assistant in Northern Ireland’s film and TV industry, and cites homegrown show Beauty Queen and Single as bringing her attention to the fact that pageant competitions weren’t just “an American thing”.

She says: “That girls from Northern Ireland and Belfast could take part in things like this.

“And specifically, [former Miss Great Britain] Gemma Garrett, watching her on the show really inspired me to see that someone from Northern Ireland was Miss Great Britain, plus the fact that years later, Eden McAllister also took home the title.

“I was just inspired by the two of them, and it seemed that it can be done by girls from here and that those doors were open to us in this part of the world.

“People would often ask me, how are the other girls, are they mean, is it catty? And that just has not been my experience.

“All the other girls are lovely. It’s been an amazing way to meet new friends and some of my closest friends I have met through the competition circuit.

“It is so empowering; it’s an amazing opportunity to network and meet new people in new industries because there are girls who are dancers, girls who work in medicine, and it’s just an easy way to meet new people.”

The Miss Belfast pageant is a qualifying heat for Miss Great Britain and the winner will be announced on June 9.

The format includes awards in charity, press, interview technique and bikini confidence.

“A big part of it is your community work and making sure that you give back. The charities for Miss Great Britain would be Alex’s Wish and Cancer Research UK,” Stacey says.

“To raise awareness and funds for those two charities, I pledged myself, as a complete non athlete, non-sporty girl, that I’m going to be running at 15 5ks in 15 weeks.

“We’ll all be taking part in the Cancer Research UK Belfast 5k in May I’m just doing another 14 to challenge myself.”

She laughs: “It’s very out of my comfort zone.”

Stacey worked on series two of Blue Lights

There’s a synergy between her work in TV and the competitions, and she’s become more confident in interviews.

“I’m a freelancer so quite a lot of the time [in the industry] you’re on a job for six to nine months and that’s it. Whereas I’ve now become so much more competent in speaking if I’m ever part of a meeting, I’m so much more confident in an interview setting. If I’m ever in a situation where I have to present to a group, that just does not faze me anymore.”

Stacey, who explains that she has “always been a bit of a theatre kid, real jazz hands and big smiles”, is also a social media content creator and has gained enhanced skills thanks to her involvement in the two industries.

She adds: “It’s things like getting used to having your photograph taken, speaking well and recording yourself speaking and I’ve also had presenting opportunities with the BBC very recently. I know that my skill set from taking part in this competition has enhanced that so that I can have a camera on me or not feel intimidated once I see that red light on.”

Stacey also worked on Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Stacey, who studied moving image arts, has always wanted to work in the TV and film industry.

“I often say that Belfast is like the Hollywood of the British Isles because there’s just not only the amazing locations in such close proximity to each other, but it’s the talent for such a small part of the world and such a small city.

“The talent of the local crew is just off the charts.

“It’s incredible and I’m so delighted to be a part of that.”

She was a member of the Royal Television Society Futures, an organisation of young people or new entrants who put on events for other new entrants.

Miss Belfast finalist Stacey Burns

“It was an amazing way to network by putting on events so it gave me a great excuse to reach out to people within the industry and ask them would they be willing to come and give a lecture or do a Zoom with some of us that we could put on our pages.

“It was a great way for people to get to know me as someone who was active [in the industry],” she says.

Organisation is key to her role as a production assistant, she adds, explaining they need to be ready for any and everything.

“A production assistant is the most junior member of the production department, so the production department would be the ones that organise.

“It’s a lot of coordination and logistics. It’ll be things like making sure forms are in, contracts are signed, catering and everything is covered and handled and going to the right place and that there’s water at the location and all of these things that people don’t necessarily think of off the top of their head.”

Coming to screen next week, Stacey was thrilled to be involved with the second series of police drama Blue Lights.

Stacey Burns

“It was a fantastic environment to work in. Everyone was so supportive and all of the HODs [heads of department] were incredibly supportive and approachable and it was an amazing environment to work in as a PA, l learned so much.

“It’s brilliant that it is so local and that many of the HODs and the talents we cast are local too.

“It’s amazing that so many people from here are getting to have those opportunities and it is shown so proudly as Belfast.”

Her end-goal is to have her own production company.

“I really do love drama and that is where I see myself staying for now. I can never say never, but that is how I envision the future at the minute.

“I love being a busy person. I can’t stand still sitting still. There’s something about the go, go, go of both the Miss Belfast competition and the production side that just really… I don’t know how to describe it.

“I love being so busy and never sitting still or being in one place. There’s something about the fact that they’re both so high energy, that’s what I really enjoy the most.”

Follow Stacey on Instagram @belfastmediagirl

Belfast Telegraph Life