Hartlepool actress makes big screen debut in BAFTA nominated film Blue Jean

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An actress from Hartlepool is hoping her local cinema will sell out when her debut film premieres later this month.

Ellen Gowland, 22, plays student Carol Ridley in upcoming film Blue Jean, which is based a true story set in the North East England in 1988.

It is the first time Ellen has taken part in a film and she got the role shortly after completing her musical theatre degree in November 2021.

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The film was directed by Georgia Oakley and scooped a BAFTA nomination in the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer category.

Ellen Gowland looks at an image from the movie Blue Jean, in which she appears as a student.Ellen Gowland looks at an image from the movie Blue Jean, in which she appears as a student.
Ellen Gowland looks at an image from the movie Blue Jean, in which she appears as a student.

"It was amazing. It was so surreal. There were so many talented people. We had the best casting crew,” she said.

"The film is such an amazing story and we can’t wait to show everyone what we made together.”

Blue Jean follows the story of lesbian teacher Jean, who leads a double life as Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government are about to pass a law stigmatising gays and lesbians.

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As pressure mounts, Jean is pushed to the brink to hold onto her job and her integrity when a new student threatens to expose her sexuality.

Actress Ellen Gowland. Picture by FRANK REID.Actress Ellen Gowland. Picture by FRANK REID.
Actress Ellen Gowland. Picture by FRANK REID.

“It’s that struggle that she went through, but it’s a true story and we actually met the woman, who it’s about,” said Ellen.

"She’s really cool. She actually has a little role in the film and she’s really good.”

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The film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival back in October and was shown at prestigious film festivals in Venice, Toronto and Zurich.

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Filming took place last February.Filming took place last February.
Filming took place last February.

It will be released in UK cinemas for the first time this month.

Ellen, who attended the London premiere with a few family members, is now looking forward to watching the film in Hartlepool’s Vue cinema, where it will premiere on February 8.

"We’ve waited so long,” she said.

"I’m buzzing. It’s a really cool film. I can’t wait for people to see it.

"It would be amazing to sell my local cinema out.”

Ellen, from the Bishop Cuthbert area of Hartlepool, has been enjoying singing, dancing and acting lessons since the age of five.

She currently works as a singing teacher and said: "Hopefully this is just the beginning."

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