Texas actress Daire McLeod nurtured her passion for reading long before being cast in AppleTV+’s Ghostwriter.
“I love reading. I’ve loved reading ever since I was like four years old. It’s been such a crazy ride with me and reading,” she says.
So much so that she hopes to share her love of reading with those who may not get as many opportunities as others do to explore the worlds created through literature with her non-profit, Daire To Read.
“Daire To Read is a charity that I made because, like I said, I am a huge book lover. I’ve loved books ever since I was a kid, and I think that stories are some of our greatest assets because they not only can transport us to other worlds, they can inspire hope and I think that’s one of the most valuable things we have,” says Daire.
She continues, “Unfortunately, a lot of people do not have access to the stories that me or you get to enjoy on a regular basis. So I started Daire To Read because I wanted to change that. I wanted to put a book in the hands of any kid who wants one because everyone deserves hope. Most importantly, they deserve the love of reading that comes with it.”
When someone loves reading as much as Daire does, it comes as no surprise to learn that she laughs when asked about her favorite book. “Whhhhy?” she jokes. “That’s so hard!” She does decide on The Fault in Our Stars as her favorite. “I have reread that book so many times.” She confesses that on nights when she can’t sleep, she’ll wake up at 4 AM and read the book all the way through. “It’s always been a favorite of mine because it’s such a sweet story.”
Daire adds that she loves fantasy books and books that involve world-building. “I also love dystopian [books] – dystopian fascinates me.” She adds, “I always love a good fact book.”
She confesses that she has been on a “massive book spree” so it takes her a moment to name the most recent book she’s read when asked. “I read a really cool [book] about these two girls and this one girl was basically kind of destroying the other best friend’s life, not on accident.” She laughs as she says, “I was like, ‘Oh, this is really good!’”
For a dedicated bookworm like Daire, Ghostwriter seems like a dream role. The AppleTV+ series is a reimagining of the 1992 Sesame Workshops series of the same name. An entity dubbed ‘Ghostwriter’ brings fictional characters to life to solve the exciting mystery around its unfinished business, recruiting a group of kids who develop a strong friendship through their sleuthing.
“Being in a show that’s an advocate for new stories and exposing and discovering new ideas is really cool because I also got to read a bunch of my old favorites,” Daire says. “I reread The [Wonderful] Wizard of Oz, I reread Charlotte’s Web. We got to do some new stories!” The actress brings up the fact that Pablo Cartaya’s book ¡Leo! El Magnífico was a completely new book written specifically for the show.
Of the large number of stories that have been included in the show, her favorite is the Ralph Mouse series, particularly The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. “It just has a place in my heart,” she gushes. “I love Ralph. Ralph was incredible! He was the most adorable little mouse in the entire world.”
One story that really stuck out to Daire was about Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ song ‘She’s A Rainbow’.
“I like to consider songs a different type of story because as a songwriter it really connected with me. We all have stories [to tell] and there’re multiple different ways to express an idea or a thought through music and through literature.”
In the show, Daire portrays Charli, one of the new characters introduced in season three.
I think that stories are some of our greatest assets because they not only can transport us to other worlds, they can inspire hope and I think that’s one of the most valuable things we have.
“She is a force to be reckoned with. Charli is like a firecracker of a girl,” she says of her character. “She marches to the beat of her own drum. She’s not afraid to say something if she feels like she wants to say something, and [she’s not afraid to] stand up for what she believes is right. So I really relate to her in a lot of ways.” She laughs as she includes, “Especially with the fact that sometimes we forget that we talk a little too much and that we can’t stop.”
Daire says, “I’ve always felt like me and Charlie are really connected and we both are basic advocates for authenticity.”
Discussing Charli’s main arc throughout season three, she says that it focuses on Charli trying to figure out who she is. “Her perfect older sister who she loves very, very much can sometimes overshadow who she is and who she’s wanting to become. I think [her arc is] her trying to step into her authenticity and to figure out who she is and not who her family or who her sister is expecting her to be.”
When TEENPLICITY spoke with Daire’s co-star Josh Zaharia in October 2022, he mentioned that the role helped him expand his knowledge of magic. Daire had a similar experience.
“I did actually work with a magic coach, so I got to expand my knowledge on that. It was so cool because, first of all, I didn’t know magic coaches were a thing and whenever I figured out they were a thing, I freaked out. I was like, ‘There’s a magic coach that’s gonna be on set with me?!’” she says, recalling the moments with an amused grin. “It was so cool and I got to learn a couple tricks. Now I can actually perform a magic trick and people aren’t like, ‘…Oh… that was… good.’ They’re actually like, ‘Oh! That was good!’ So I’m now really excited to say that I’m kind of a magician in my own right.”
She adds, “I also expanded my knowledge on a lot of really important topics. I learned a lot about how much and how important it is to have inclusivity and to just expand on the fact that everybody is going through something and that it’s important for all of us to all stick together so that we can create a world of kindness.”
Daire is bringing people together in another way – through music. With a history dedicated to reading and a passion for music, she joins her two loves in her songwriting. She echoes the age-old sentiment: A song is a poem put to music.
“I’ve been a reader since I was little [and] I think that helped a lot with me telling stories,” she says. “I feel that whenever we read, and whenever you expose your mind to multiple different things, you can have a much wider variety of things to write about. So whenever I write songs, I may never have experienced that particular subject or that particular thing, but I’ve read about it, so therefore I can write about it in the most honest way that I can know how at that point.”
She continues, “That’s why I’ve always been an advocate for storytelling, because storytelling has so many different outlets you can expand on, and there’s always going to be one for somebody.”
Her recently released single “Hey Honey” tells the story of Daire’s summer memories with her cousins.
The triple-threat grins as she agrees with TEENPLICITY’s assessment of the song being a summer anthem. “It’s warm days,” she says, “and it’s those days that you’re just with your family and you’re with your friends. It’s those memories that you make with people that you always look back on and you smile about. That’s kind of the personification of ‘Hey Honey’ – it’s one of those summer days that you just never wanna forget.”
Accessing those memories is a core part of her songwriting process. Listeners get a glimpse of them with small inclusions of things like listening to Kenny Chesney. “It’s all about the memories for me,” Daire says, referencing her dubbed ‘country cousins’ and the amazing memories she shares with them. “They live on the lake so we go out during the summer and we water ski,” she shares. “We’re on the boat, Kenny Chesney is a regular repeat.”
Daire laughs as she says, “I also have a cousin who her literal favorite thing is Kenny Chesney and she told me if I ever meet him, she will kill me if I don’t FaceTime her. So I hope that I will and that she can get to live out her dream of meeting Kenny Chesney. That would be really cool.”
I really want it to be a song that’s in denial that it’s a sad song.
Calling out moments like these in a song like ‘Hey Honey’ is all about the feelings and memories that come with these moments, according to Daire. “That’s what I love writing about, is those feelings. The things that make you smile, that make you laugh, make you cry, because that’s why you write – is to make people feel something.”
It comes as no surprise then that Daire looks up to one of the highest-regarded songwriters of this generation, Taylor Swift. “She’s an incredible lyricist,” she says before adding that she’s inspired by so many different genres.
“I was always raised with a family that listens to every kind of music. We would listen to eighties rock with my dad, who is a huge metalhead, and my mom who loves classic jazz and grunge nineties. We just listen to everything because we believe that music is the way to connect the world. So by knowing a bunch of kinds of music, we can overcome pretty much anything and understand most of anyone’s experiences.”
Her top musical interests and inspirations include Amy Winehouse (“She’s incredible!”), Aretha Franklin (“[She] has an incredible voice. She was an incredible lyricist.”), and Prince (“[He was] incredibly talented.”). She rounds out her list with Yazz, Depeche Mode, Janis Joplin, and Stevie Nicks.
For what fans can expect going forward with her music, Daire teases that she has a new song coming out. “It is going to be called ‘Learn to Count,’” she reveals. “It’s essentially a song about how we learn sometimes that a relationship isn’t really working out and that sometimes in our lives, we have to transition and learn to love again in a different way.”
Daire continues to share about the song, saying, “That’s why the song sounds the way it sounds, which you’ll hear soon. Because it’s going to be coming out soon.” Nothing can wipe the grin off of her face as she announces this, one that is contagious to anyone who hears her speak about her music.
“When I was pitching [‘Learn to Count’] to my producers, we were talking about it and I said I really want it to be a song that’s in denial that it’s a sad song. So it sounds like it’s happy, but it is a sad song. I wanted it to be almost confusing.” She explains that she hopes listeners wonder if the song is sad, if it’s happy, and contemplate about what the song is when they hear it.
“Then we’re going to be hopefully putting out an album really, really soon,” Daire says, her grin still present. “I’ve already started working on the two singles and we’re hopefully going to be branching out into even more music. So, stay tuned…”
Ghostwriter is available to stream on AppleTV+ now!
Stream ‘Hey Honey’ here!
For all things Daire McLeod, be sure to follow her on Instagram!