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Blackpool soap star needs your help

FIRST a lesbian romance, then a fling with her lover's dad ... now she's 16, pregnant and wants an abortion. Hardly the kind of image one associates with a former Arnold School headgirl, but it's put Blackpool soap star Jenna-Louise Coleman in the running for three awards.

Now Jenna-Louise needs you – because two of the awards involve a public vote (see separate panel) and the lines for one close on Friday, so support your local actress now!

Jenna-Louise reckons she had the best education the world, thanks to Arnold School.

At 19, she puts the job of her dreams down to the influence and inspiration of Arnold drama teacher Colin Snell (right). "He helped give me the confidence to go for my dream."

Colin says the young star's feet are firmly on the ground. "She knows celebrity can be easily short lived. What matters more is the quality of the work she does. With that attitude she'll go far."

The young actress is recognised wherever she goes, thanks to playing love triangle schoolgirl Jasmine in Emmerdale.

The recognition extends to her talents as an actress.

Jenna-Louise was recently shortlisted at the British Soap Awards for best newcomer, and is in the running for best newcomer at the TvQuick awards in London on September 4.

But the public get to vote for best newcomer at the National Television Awards and the Inside Soap awards (together with best storyline for the Jasmine/Cain/Debbie love triangle).

Jenna-Louise is up against familiar faces from EastEnders, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and co. "I'm not expecting to win but I'm hoping people get behind me."

At the head of the queue for the phone or internet stands teacher Colin. Well, after mum Karen, dad Keith, big brother Ben, boyfriend Carl Davies (who's with Stephen Fry in ITV series Kingdom), best friend Francesca Wolfe and "eight other best friends" from Arnold.

"They're all off to uni, doing history and English and accountancy and medicine, in September," adds Jenna-Louise. "Part of me feels sorry I'm missing that but I'm living the life I want."

Teacher Colin takes shows to festivals including Edinburgh Fringe any day.

Jenna-Louise acting in the play Crystal Clear swept the awards board and won her one, too. She landed the Emmerdale role soon after.

"It won something like 19 awards in festivals, including personal best actors' award for Jenna. Yet she has natural modesty. I've taught her since she was 14, worked and toured with her, and her feet are firmly on the ground."

He's got a knack for spotting talent. Another Arnold find, Jonas Armstrong, who appeared in Teachers, is to star in a Robin Hood TV series this year.

By coincidence, Colin also taught Jeff Hordley, who plays Jasmine's older lover (and father of her gay lover) Cain (below, with Jenna-Louise). Confused? Stick with the plot.

"He was my first generation, when I taught in Oldham," says Colin, who's heading back to Edinburgh with pupils in shows including Be My Baby, which plays the Grand Theatre, in September.

Colin adds: "Jenna's a good actress. She has a maturity which has made the role much meatier. People deride soaps but Ian McKellen wanted to go into Corrie, and look at the fantastic things Sarah Lancashire has achieved since leaving Coronation Street."

Jenna-Louise herself is finding it hard to think as far ahead as the National TV Awards, at the Royal Albert Hall, in November.

"I can't believe I've got that far. I just hope they show a good clip. At the British Soap Awards they showed a piece of me looking all wooden and terrible – and the camera turned to me just as I was smiling and shaking my head at Charley Webb who plays Debbie Dingle!"

It helps to have good friends on the set as some working days stretch to 12 hours. "It's easing off now. We're six weeks ahead so I'm ahead of the plot - and all I can say is ... it's someone else's turn to have a good storyline!

"The pressure's been massive but working with Jeff and Hayley Tamaddon (Delilah Dingle) and Charley helps.

"I auditioned the day after my 19th birthday and it's like an extended family to me now. I live in Leeds with Julie (Mallam) who plays Dawn in the show and has just died! – and she's staying on which is fabulous because she's a lovely flatmate.

"I like working with Freddie Jones, who plays my grandad, because he's such a great actor, and yet so humble.

"I'm still in my first year with Emmerdale. I only went full-time in October and have just finished my first big storyline.

"I'm overwhelmed to be shortlisted for the awards. I'm up against Charlie Clements who plays Bradley in EastEnders, and Nikki Patel who is Amber, Dev's daughter, in Corrie, and Craig Charles, who's Lloyd in Corrie, and Emma Barton who plays Honey in EastEnders, and lots more. It's nerve-racking!"

Jenna-Louise values her resort roots. "I'd love to see Blackpool prosper. I grew up on the Opera House stage in the professional show, Summer Holiday, with Darren Day, when I was 10. It's a great theatre and the Grand is wonderful too – but they all need bottoms on seats.

"In terms of telly, Blackpool's the best training ground. We even toured, just for the experience, and played tiny

basements and big festivals.

"It's weird, when you've done plays, where there's a beginning, middle and end, to work in a soap, when you don't know where the part is going, so you play a scene and then the scriptwriter drops the bombshell and says, you're kissing Debbie in this scene. Or Cain!

"I take each day as it comes. There's 90 per cent unemployment in acting so I'm just grateful to be working.

"I just hope to be constantly in work. I really can't afford to be choosy!"

jacqui.morley@blackpoolgazette.co.uk

 
 
 

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