She's best known for her part as the doomed teenager Leanne Holliday in Hollyoaks, but Jessica Forrest is now taking her first steps on to the professional stage.
At the end of this month she’ll be appearing before an audience in Huddersfield in a new play, Chip Shop Chips, currently on a 27-venue tour of the North.
Jessica, who hails from Colne in Lancashire and is still only 25, is excited to be treading the boards after years in television.
As she says: “I did a lot of theatre at school and was in my local dramatic society. I’ve loved theatre from being very young. The tour is going to village halls and churches; every space will be different and every night is going to be completely different.”
In Chip Shop Chips, written by Becky Prestwich for the Box of Tricks theatre company, Jessica plays a cocky 18-year-old called Jasmine who pays a visit to a chip shop with her Nanna Christine.
The two women encounter the proprietor Eric and his new employee Lee, who just happens to be an old school pal of Jasmine’s. It is a Northern love story involving two generations and told over the course of one evening.
Jessica is one of the fortunate few in the acting profession who never really struggled to get a first break. She’d gone to university but wasn’t happy with her choice of course - drama and screen studies - and decided what she wanted to do was perform.
“I spotted an open audition at the BBC in Oxford Road (Manchester) and decided to go along,” she explained. “That was in 2010. By the end of the day I had a year’s contract with Channel 4 in Hollyoaks.”
She was still a teenager when she took on the role of Leanne and spent three years in soap opera land. Her final performance was dramatic, even by Hollyoaks’ standards. Leanne was killed off after an explosion - on her wedding day.
Since then Jessica, who now lives in London, has had parts in the childrens’ series Dani’s Castle, Coronation Street and the Sky Arts comedy drama The Cruise. Chip Shop Chips came along at a time when she was looking for something new.
“My agent called me about it,” she says, “I was having a really busy week - acting is like buses, the parts all come along at once. But I liked the idea and wanted to do it.”
Touring to so many venues over just five weeks will be tough, but Jessica is used to the long days of television filming and has had to travel for previous roles.
“It’s part of the job,” she says, “and I enjoy it. I get itchy feet if I stay in one place too long. When I was filming Dani’s Castle I had to live in a Holiday Inn in Belfast for 10 weeks and when I was filming Hollyoaks I lived in Liverpool.”
Chip Shop Chips is at the Red and Green Club in Milnsbridge on Monday, February 29, from 7pm. Tickets are £13 and include a fish and chip supper. For details visit www.boxoftrickstheatre.co.uk