STUDENTS were given an insight into the world of acting as they were paid a surprise visit from a soap star.
Stephen Uppal, who played Ravi Roy in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks, spent the afternoon with teenagers at Hartlepool Sixth Form College.
Stephen, who grew up in Teesside and studied and achieved a degree in English literature at Teesside University, spent time talking to English and performing arts students about his education and acting career and also answered their questions.
As well as his role in the soap, the 33-year-old has also starred on stage in musicals such as Tonight’s the Night and Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat and popular play The History Boys.
He has tried his hand on the big screen as well, playing a lead role in 2009 film Freight.
His acting career started relatively late. It wasn’t until after he achieved his degree that he decided acting was what he wanted to pursue as a career and he landed a spot at The Arts Educational School, in London.
After telling students about the rigorous demands of an actor’s schedule and the opportunities available to budding stars, Stephen admitted to being impressed by the youngsters.
He said: “I was very impressed with the enthusiasm of the students.
“The quality of the questions posed displayed the students’ astute awareness of where they wish to be with regards to their own ambitions and dreams.
“My advice to them is to never give up – if they really want this then they must learn from every experience they have, be it positive or negative.
“For some the journey will be fast, for others perhaps a little longer but they can do it.”
Staff and students expressed their thanks to Stephen for spending time at the college.
Vicky Jackson, head of performing arts and theatre studies at the college, in Hartlepool’s Blakelock Road, said: “It was extremely generous of Stephen to take time out of his busy schedule to come and share his experience with the students.
“If students can see that a local young man can achieve his desired career goals then they too can aim high.
“Stephen’s talk really helped to inspire the BTEC Performing Arts students who are set to perform their practical exam.”