Kara Tointon’s star is rising.
The actress, who found fame in EastEnders, can justifiably be happy about a storming debut in the West End as Eliza Dolittle in Pygmalion and acclaim for her role in The Sweeney, the movie remake of the 1970s police series.
She’s starring in the upcoming Dougray Scott film, Last Passenger, and in May will appear opposite Felicity Kendal in Alan Ayckbourn’s Relative Values at the Wyndham’s Theatre, London.
It’s pretty impressive for someone who says: “I’m terribly self-critical, sometimes I think I need to ease up on myself.
“I always give 100 per cent to what I do but I rarely watch myself and think, ‘That was really good’. I always think, ‘Hmmm, I could have done that better’.”
But others disagree, and the petite actress admits: “I have had a fantastic couple of years and yet there was a point after EastEnders that I strongly considered giving up on acting and resorting to my plan B, training to be an interior designer.
“At that point, I started to think it wasn’t going to happen for me.
“After you’ve been in a soap, people can assume you can’t do anything else, because you’re associated with your TV character.
“It can be demoralising, going to audition after audition and getting rejected, and you have to be pretty strong to carry on in this business.”
Tointon’s talent first shone when in 2005 she joined EastEnders as ruthless Dawn Swann.
It was a great break for the Essex girl – born in Basildon and raised in Southend – and she became a firm favourite until her role was written out in 2009.
It was also a great personal achievement. The 29-year-old has dyslexia, a learning disability which she subsequently explored in a 2010 BBC Three documentary, Kara Tointon: Don’t Call Me Stupid.
“I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was seven, and that’s why I got into drama.
“My parents encouraged me into it when they found out about my problems with reading, because they thought it would give me confidence,” explains Tointon, who’s an ambassador for Galaxy Quick Reads, new bite-sized books by renowned authors such as Andy McNab and Kathy Lette which are aimed at encouraging more people to get into reading.
“I did worry about coming out, as an actress, and talking about dyslexia, but I can honestly say that because I had so much support as a child, dyslexia has not been a problem for me.
“I’ve found ways round it – even though at one time I learnt a script by writing out the lines 100 times!”