Derry Girls star Dylan Llewellyn: Dyslexia made learning lines a challenge

Derry Girls Star Dylan Llewellyn: Dyslexia Made Learning Lines A Challenge
The Derry Girls star talks about overcoming difficulties at school and how gaming helped him beat loneliness. Photo: PA
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By Imy Brighty-Potts, PA

Dylan Llewellyn became an actor by accident. In fact, he never really wanted to be in front of the camera at all.

“I wanted to be a photographer first,” says the Derry Girls star (30). “My first ever A was in photography.”


It’s hard to believe it now, given his success on the small screen, but Llewellyn admits he originally “chose drama as a doss subject”.

However, he “ended up getting way more into it, I got into doing impressions and began having fun on stage”, the Surrey-born actor adds.

It eventually became his life, leading to TV success. But despite landing high-profile roles in the likes of hit sitcom Derry Girls and Big Boys, following an earlier stint on Hollyoaks, it certainly hasn’t always been an easy ride.


“I always felt lonely growing up at school,” says Llewellyn, who has been open about his experiences of dyslexia.

“I felt so far behind everyone else. They were storming through with their studies and I couldn’t understand what was going on. It was so difficult, and I felt like I was stupid.”

Despite having access to some of the best resources available at the time, school was still a challenging experience for him.

Dylan Llewellyn and costars
Llewellyn with Derry Girls co-stars Louisa Harland (L) and Saoirse-Monica Jackson. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

“I went to a dyslexic and autistic school called More House School. The teachers were well trained with dealing with dyslexia, classes were smaller, and everyone had support to work through coursework and homework, but I know that is exceptional. I hope other schools are doing similar,” Llewellyn shares.

Llewellyn – who admits he often felt isolated and the dyslexia took a toll on his confidence – says he found relief in video games.

“I like to game. I started gaming as a kid and then got into Call Of Duty, I love shooting games. Growing up, gaming was a nice getaway from loneliness,” he says. “There are ways to socialise online through games and it was a good getaway. It was my happy place, gaming.”


For any youngsters who can relate to his experiences, he says he encourages kids to have something they enjoy, like video games”.

And finding things that click might take you by surprise – as drama did for him.

“I got lucky enough to be scouted by an agency, because my drama GCSE group got to perform at the National Theatre through a competition,” Llewellyn recalls. “It was a huge confidence boost.”

Dylan Llewellyn
Llewellyn was working in a deli when he landed the Derry Girls role. Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA

But despite his eventual success, the early days were tricky.

“Acting is so competitive,” Llewellyn adds. “I went to drama school, I did a foundation at RADA and the brutal honesty of the teachers, saying to 30 of us that maybe two or three of us will make it – it was a struggle.”

Derry Girls was a turning point.

Prior to this, he says: “I was struggling with acting, I wasn’t getting many auditions, and I was so close to giving up. While I was working part-time in a deli, my boss was really rooting for me and my acting. I got a phone call when I was washing dishes and my boss let me take it and I found out I got the role of James in Derry Girls.”

Dyslexia made learning his lines more difficult, however.

“Nowadays in acting, I make sure to give myself a lot of time to learn lines. If I get lines on the day, I have to ask them to bear with me. I need time,” he says.

Llewellyn is keen to raise awareness of dyslexia and the resources that can make a difference. Working with companies like Texthelp, who provide assistive educational technology for workplaces, schools and universities, is helping him show the importance of finding technological methods to help people with dyslexia work through challenges.As for learning lines, he’s picked up some useful techniques.

“I like to type the words from the script into my iPad or write them down on paper, word by word, and gradually learn more and more. I sometimes ask friends and family how you say certain words because it is a challenge when seeing them on a page, but I know now that it is doable though,” says Llewellyn.

“That is what I would tell any kid with dyslexia. No matter the challenge, with the right help and resources, it is doable.”

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