■ The Eastenders Actress, 30, on Ruby’s harrowing storyline, getting through The Jump and having fun on Strictly
Your EastEnders rape storyline has been nominated for a British Soap Award. What was the reaction like at the time?
I had a great response. Lots of women have told me their stories and said it’s helped them move forward or helped them report it to the police.
Was it a big responsibility?
On a show like this, people see you in their living rooms and feel they can open up to you. Your character becomes relatable. I can’t give people advice but it’s nice to know it’s helping.
You hadn’t been in the show for a while. Were you thrown back in at the deep end?
It’s nice to come back with an important storyline, especially with not being in the show for 12 years. I’ve worked with Rape Crisis and it’s been intense but no more so
than playing out any kind of intense storyline. I got a phone call saying the executive producer wanted to see me and then he told me what the storyline was. It was out of the blue.
Did you have to think long and hard about returning?
I asked how long it would be for. It’s big deal going back after such a long
time but the storyline was enough for me to want to go back. It feels great being back, like I’ve never left. The gangster past of Ruby’s family has been mentioned.
Would you want her to be a villainous character?
Her dad was a gangster. He died but she’s been left lots of money. There’s lots they could do with that. I’m not sure about being a villain – I’d like her to be a strong, independent woman.
Do you think she should she have castrated her rapist when she had the chance?
That’s a tricky one. No, because then she’d have gone to prison and I’d be out of the show. Drugging her rapist was an act of desperation and luckily Stacey stopped her. I’ve known the guy who played Ross the rapist [Ossian Luke] for years – it was nice to get to work with him. We’ve got mutual friends from the drama school we went to. He was amazing. He had to lie on the floor for a whole episode while I talked at him but he was really supportive and helped me out with stuff. It was a lot to get my teeth into.
Why did you want to become an actor?
I went to Sylvia Young Theatre School from the age of ten. I just liked acting and dancing as a hobby from a young age. My first professional job was EastEnders when I was 15. I feel like I’ve done a full circle and come back to it.
What have been the highlights of your time away from EastEnders?
Doing Strictly Come Dancing – I was 17 when I took part in the series and it was an amazing experience. I’ve always loved dancing. I was obsessed with Saturday Night Fever as a child – I watched the film all the time and I saw the West End show at a young age, and that’s where my love of musicals has come from. I did Grease recently, which was so much fun. I love being on stage and playing such an iconic role as Rizzo was really good fun.
You also did The Jump. How did you avoid more serious injury?
I broke my arm and was first out so that’s what saved me. It could have ended up worse. I wasn’t a confident skier at all. I fractured my arm in a few places. It’s fine now. There were a few accidents that year but it’s a dangerous sport so it was just bad luck.
Did you do the skeleton?
Yes, that’s the first thing I did. The first time I did it I really enjoyed it but after the third time I became more aware of what I was doing and started to freak out. But it’s amazing to be able to say I’ve done it. Have you ever had a supernatural experience? I’m quite spiritual and I believe that spirits stay around but I haven’t seen anything to be able to say ‘I’ve seen this and this is why’. It’s just something I believe. I’ve had my fortune told by Sally Morgan years ago for her TV show. In fact, she told me I’d be going back to EastEnders.
You’ve already achieved a lot. What are your ambitions?
I’d like to do My Fair Lady, that’s on my bucket list. I loved it as a child. And I’d like to do a period drama – something like The Crown.
What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?
To stay grounded and keep honest people around you. Try to enjoy every moment while it lasts.
■ See if EastEnders wins at the British Soap Awards tomorrow, screened live at 8pm on ITV. Britishsoapawards.tv