Aisha is an intimate character study of a young Nigerian woman who is seeking asylum in Ireland but is plagued with issues caused by bureaucracy and social services. She struggles to maintain hope and dignity against the looming threat of deportation.


The concept for the film developed organically from director Frank Berry’s previous project, Michael Inside, which explored the Irish Penal System. It was here that he learnt that the Irish prison system was run by the same government department as immigration, the Department of Justice.

This started a four-year research project in which Berry looked into the controversial Direct Provision, a system of 'accommodation centres' for asylum seekers that are run by for-profit companies under contract with the Irish government.

During his research, Berry met with groups and organisations to speak with people that were directly affected by the immigration policies in Ireland. It was through these collaborations that the story emerged for Aisha.

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Letitia Wright plays the titular character and was instantly drawn to the script and Aisha.

"What appealed to me about the role was just how the script was written, that is the first connection to any project that I take," she told "The script was beautifully written and I just felt like it was impactful and it was my opportunity to give a voice to the voiceless."

Talking about going from a Marvel blockbuster to an independent movie, Wright added: "For me, I just try to go where the stories are.

"Black Panther is a beautiful franchise and it’s just rich with so much culture and adventure at the same time and I love filmmaking that is subtle, filmmaking that dives a little more intimately into the character such as Aisha. I just try to follow where the good stories are and thankfully I have a good track record and I want to continue that."

With the film tackling social issues such as immigration and racism, Wright said that she made sure she approached the role of Aisha with "sensitivity".

"It was an opportunity to learn something that I didn’t know about before, particularly that that was happening in Ireland and it was an opportunity to connect with people that shared so many similarities with Aisha and her story."

At the age of seven, Wright moved with her family from their home in Georgetown, Guyana to Tottenham, London, experiencing displacement as she adjusted to a completely different culture and environment.

"There’s definitely so much that I can relate to in this film," she said. "Making a move to another place for an opportunity – if you’re in a bit of limbo then I can definitely understand that.

"I think for me as an artist I try to be a vessel, so simply just connecting to that story of a young woman that is trying to make it, the empathy levels for me are through the roof, so I was able to dial into that and let that shine on camera."

Starring alongside Wright is Josh O’Connor who plays the character of Conor Healy, a former prisoner that develops a close friendship with Aisha. O'Connor gained mainstream fame through his portrayal of Prince Charles in Netflix’s The Crown and has since made a name for himself as one of the great rising talents in the UK.

"He is such a gentle and giving actor and artist and it is a treat to walk through this with him," said Wright.

To imbue the film with a sense of authenticity, some of the other actors featured in Aisha are non-professionals that have lived experience of the Direct Provision system in Ireland.

Frank Berry said: "The collaboration was really wonderful and makes a wonderful creative space and for me. It’s just about listening to every individual and trying to intuitively find a way for that individual to be at their very best.

"We are all making the same film and everybody is full of conviction about what we are doing and then the shoot is really just about being there together and achieving something as true as we can but allowing everybody to be at their very best."

Aisha might be a specific character study, but the universal themes of displacement and grief make it a powerful movie that many can relate to, said Wright.

"There are unfortunately so many people that can relate to this story. I think as an artist you try to find stories that could move the conversation forward and with cinema, it is a wider way in which we can reach people and tap into their hearts and let them know what is going on in a part of the world that they were probably never privy to.

"It is a beautiful opportunity and way in which we can use our voice for people that don’t usually get a say in the room."

Letitia Wright in Aisha
Sky UK/ Cornerstone 2021

Berry added: "Filmmaking makes you feel and if you feel something in your body when you’re watching something then it is more memorable and stays with you and that is the power of cinema.

"Hopefully the film will add to the campaign in Ireland that has been so successful to demand the end of this awful, really oppressive system."

Aisha, a Sky Original, is in cinemas and on Sky Cinema from 17th November – find out more about how to sign up for Sky TV.

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