Former Hollyoaks actress Emma Rigby feels she has returned to her roots after moving back to the UK following a wave of Hollywood success.
The star decided to relocate to the UK to pursue roles in British drama, which has seen a recent renaissance, and even has ambitions to do theatre work.
Having enjoyed US roles as the Red Queen in Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, and Olivia in the upcoming film American Violence, she was wooed back to the UK by the “incredible scripts” that the country is producing.
Now Emma has returned to our TV screens this weekend in A Cinderella Christmas - a modern interpretation of the classic fairytale - and says her upbringing in the area was pivotal in shaping her career.
“I’m really proud to be from St Helens, to be a normal girl.
“I’m sort of coming back to my roots, and the reason I started this journey.
“I feel as if I’m always having to prove myself because I’m Northern - people have preconceived ideas.”
The 27-year-old shared words of wisdom for school pupils on a visit to her former secondary school.
Speaking at De La Salle’s prize-giving ceremony in Eccleston, Emma told students that with hard work, belief and dedication, anyone could follow their passions.
She said: “I used that platform. I wanted to try and relate to the leavers and show them anything’s possible, no matter where you’re from or what background.”
And she had a wider message about hard work and ambition, not just for actors, but for everyone who wants to achieve great things.
“Whatever you’re talented at, whether it’s football, maths, whatever. I want to prove you can do anything.
“It’s important to remember who you really are, to prove people wrong who say you can’t.
Emma admitted that resilience and commitment was key for actors and actresses in the North, and criticised the lack of access to funding and opportunities for the area.
“It’s fundamentally wrong. Opportunities should be given to everybody,” she said.
“There are so many talented people in the North, but unfortunately I feel like the drama schools are so expensive. My industry is quite elitist.”
A Cinderella Christmas first aired on Sunday and is available on catch-up TV.