A TV actress is on a mission to transform children in Greater Manchester into future stars of stage and screen.

With help from ForHousing’s Do Your Own Thing scheme, seasoned performer Victoria Connett-Phillips has launched a junior drama school to help young people from Manchester realise their acting potential.

Victoria, whose credits include roles in popular TV shows such as Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, set up Morello Cherry Pips in June 2018.

The classes, based in Manchester city centre, provide children aged six to 18 with the skills to become the next generation of onscreen superstars.

After more than two decades in showbusiness, Victoria, who lives in Salford, wanted to use her expertise to teach young people and their parents what it takes to be an actor.

“I felt it was time to give something back,” she said. “After I started a family, I wanted to set up classes so young people can learn about what it takes to get into acting.

“I have been an actor since I was eight. It’s a wonderful career, but most young people don’t get the opportunity to have professional guidance. I wanted to change that.

“There is a lot of expectations on their parents too, so we want to ensure families know exactly what they’re getting into from the start.”

In order to pursue her dream, Victoria contacted our Do Your Own Thing scheme for help last year. The project helps you make more out of what you love doing, by turning your ideas into income. Victoria secured a £500 grant and a business development mentor.

She said: “The money enabled me to buy a mobile phone for work and public liability insurance, which were absolutely essential. It helped me to set the business up.

“The mentoring has also been wonderful. It helped me to create a business plan and set realistic targets. It has become integral to our business model.”

Launched in June last year, the initiative has grown from one session per week to three – more than tripling its membership.

And it is already showing promise, with several youngsters landing parts in major TV shows and adverts.

Despite the success, however, Victoria stressed fame and fortune is not the sole aim of her classes.

“First and foremost, children come because they love it,” she said. “We want to give them the opportunity to develop confidence, meet new friends and grow as people.

“We are here to help them to learn about acting, but we are also a community resource.”

The project has now teamed up with international adult talent agency Morello Cherry Actors Agency, which has secured roles in shows such as US series Tin Star, upcoming Amazon Prime drama Carnival Row and family favourite Coronation Street.

“It is great to have the support of such a respected agency, but we are very much our own entity,” Victoria said. “It creates opportunities for the children who want to pursue an acting career, provides sector expertise and helps to raise our profile within the industry.”

The scheme also offers bursaries to disadvantaged children who can’t afford to pay for classes.

Victoria added: “It is very important to us that money does not become a barrier to a future career. We want as many children as possible to get the chance to learn something new and develop their talents.”

The Do Your Own Thing programme helps people fuel their potential, explore new possibilities and develop ideas before taking steps into self-employment.

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