Move over Keira Knightley, new starlets from Alexandra Roach to Gemma Chan are ready for their close-up

Starlet fever: We’re ready for our close-up

Move over Keira, Carey and co – there’s a new group of awesome young actresses poised to take over our screens this year. We caught up with six stars in waiting to talk about big breaks, style secrets and hanging out with some of the hottest names in showbiz…

Alex Roach

The big-screen starlet

Alexandra Roach, 24, was fresh out of Rada when she was handpicked by Meryl Streep to play the young Maggie to her older Thatcher in the Oscar-nominated The Iron Lady. She has also been cast as the young Queen Elizabeth in the upcoming film Girls’ Night Out. She grew up in Wales and now lives in North London.

We hear Meryl specifically requested you for the role of the younger Maggie…

Yes, she asked for me after she saw my audition tape – which was slightly surreal. I play the younger Margaret from the ages of 16 to 33. It was a phenomenal experience to film with stars such as Meryl and Jim Broadbent, although I do wear a prosthetic nose in the film so you may not recognise me!

Was it intimidating to work with such a formidable actress Meryl’s a huge, huge star but she’s very caring at the same time – she really looked after me on set.

Were you born for the big screen I was shy as a child, but my neighbour went to a stage school near our home on Saturdays. One week I decided to go along with her and it just so happened they were holding auditions for Pobol Y Cwm – the Welsh-language soap opera. It was a bit awkward as I got a role and she didn’t!

Who is your idol Maxine Peake, who also went to Rada. Or Julie Walters – she has great comic timing but can also be vulnerable.

And your starriest moment The Iron Lady premiere in New York – I wore a Mulberry skirt and Jimmy Choos.

Guilty pleasure My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. The dresses, the hair…the whole thing is just brilliant. I’d love to play a traveller. I love all reality TV – Strictly, The X Factor. I really don’t see why people are so snobby about it.

Beauty secret Hairpieces are brilliant for adding volume.

Girl crush Lana Del Rey – I’m really into 60s style and love her look. Plus her voice is just mesmerising.

Style secrets Forever 21 and Primark. I love vintage, but it’s so expensive now.

Favourite film Drive with Ryan Gosling.

Saving up for A Vespa – I’d like a red one to whiz around the city.

Alexandra will star in Private Peaceful, Trap For Cinderella and Anna Karenina, all out later this year

Iron Lady

Alexandra as the young Mrs T in The Iron Lady

Gemma Chan

The funny girl

Gemma Chan, 29, is best known for her roles in Secret Diary of a Call Girl with Billie Piper, Sherlock, The IT Crowd and Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat with Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas and comedian Jack Whitehall. She will soon be seen in BBC1’s star-studded Love Life and Bedlam on Sky Living with ex-EastEnder Lacey Turner.

Your CV is very impressive, but what are you most proud of Probably the comedy drama Fresh Meat – it’s been huge and everyone seems to be talking about it. During filming we had no idea of how successful it would become, although the creators, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, who wrote Peep Show, have an amazing track record.

Is comedy your niche I do love doing comedy, but I also love drama.

What’s next for you Love Life – it’s an entirely improvised drama about modern-day relationships. There are some amazing names in the cast – Billie Piper and David Tennant, who I’ve worked with before, as well as David Morrissey, Jane Horrocks, Joanne Froggatt and Jaime Winstone. The list just goes on and on.

What has been your ‘pinch yourself’ moment The TV Baftas last year when Sherlock won best drama series. I thought I’d feel out of place, but I had a fantastic night. I wore a Temperley dress and Louis Vuitton shoes.

Did you always want to be an actress No – I’ve wanted to do so many different things! Marine biologist, astrophysicist, lawyer…I studied law at Oxford University so I could have become a lawyer, which is what my parents wanted me to do, but I knew midway through my degree that it wasn’t for me. So I did a master’s at the Drama Centre London.

Last play you saw Top Girls with Olivia Poulet, who I’ve been friends with since we met on the set of Sherlock.

Your style Quirky but feminine – I love Burberry and Christopher Kane but am just as happy riffling through vintage buys on Portobello Road.

Beauty must-have Nars Orgasm Blush – even if you’ve had a big night out, you’ll always look fresh-faced with just a swipe of it.

Love Life will be on BBC1 in spring

Fresh meat

Gemma with Joe Thomas in Fresh Meat


The cult cutie

MyAnna Buring, 27, appears as Tanya in the cult Twilight film series. She’s next to be seen in the BBC2 show White Heat and The Fuse, a TV drama starring Christopher Eccleston and directed by Tom Green.

What was your big break Twilight – I play a character called Tanya Denali who is the leader of a coven called the Denalis. It’s amazing to be part of such a phenomenon – but luckily I’m not hounded by fans the way some of the cast are. If you’d have told me 18 months ago that I would have been to premieres in Los Angeles and London, I would have said you were crazy!

Who is your idol Toni Collette. I fell in love with her in Muriel’s Wedding. And Olivia Colman
too – everything she touches seems to turn to gold.

What is your plan B Before I went to Lamda, I set up a theatre company with a few friends so hopefully if my career slows down or dries up altogether I’ll still be able to work in theatre.

Where is home I was born in Sweden, grew up in the Middle East and moved to London at 16. My mum still lives in the Middle East and my father has relocated to Scotland, so I’m definitely a nomad, but I consider London my home now.

What will you splurge on with your first leading-lady pay cheque Shoes are my weakness – Louboutins or Jimmy Choos.

On days off you’ll find me…lying in my PJs, catching up on TV I’ve missed. I’ve just bought the box set of the Danish version of The Killing.

Gym or yoga Pilates – I have a bad back and find it works wonders.

Style icon I like people who are brave, such as Gwen Stefani. I feel I’m just starting to find my own personal style – although I do worry I’m starting to dress a bit like my mother and match everything!

White Heat will be on BBC2 this month. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 will be in cinemas in November


MyAnna got her big break in the Twilight series, inset (pictured with, from left, Maggie Grace and Casey LaBow)


The telly addict

Ruta Gedmintas’s eclectic career includes TV roles in Spooks: Code 9, The Tudors, The Borgias and BBC3’s gritty Glasgow drama Lip Service. The 28-year-old’s stage highlight is the Beatles musical Backbeat at London’s Duke of York theatre.

What role has defined your career Lip Service – I feel so lucky to have been cast in it. I play a clever, provocative character called Frankie. But most people will probably know me from The Tudors, where I played Elizabeth Blount, one of Henry VIII’s mistresses. I was originally only supposed to be in one episode but they extended my role.

What would be your dream role It changes all the time but I’ve always been desperate to play Laura in The Glass Menagerie as it’s one of my favourite scripts. Although whenever I go to the theatre or to see a film, I think, ‘Ah, I wish I’d done that.’

Where did you train At Drama Centre London – I just picked it out randomly from the Ucas book! I cried after my first audition, thinking that I’d messed it up, but I actually got in and loved it.

Starstruck moment I met Leonardo DiCaprio a couple of years ago in Los Angeles. I had a poster of him in Titanic on my wall when I was growing up and was just in awe to see him in the flesh.

Your one-stop shop AllSaints! Almost everything I own is from there.

Gym or yoga Neither. If you want to lose weight, do a play. The amount of stamina you need is incredible so I struggle to keep my weight up.

On a night off you’d find me…snuggled up at home with a box set – I’ve just finished Curb Your Enthusiasm and am obsessed with Lost.

Ruta will next be seen in the second series of Lip Service, which begins in spring on BBC3


Ruta with Nick Blood in the stage show Backbeat

The period drama pin-up
Vanessa Kirby

Vanessa Kirby, 24, starred as Estella in last Christmas’s BBC adaptation of Great Expectations opposite Ray Winstone and close friend (and rumoured love interest) Douglas Booth. Prior to that she starred as Ruth Elms in the BBC2 Golden Globe-nominated series The Hour (although her character was dead within 20 minutes of appearing on screen!). Her next role is in the TV miniseries adaptation of Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth, alongside her flatmate, Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay.

How did you find yourself in Christmas 2011’s biggest drama After university [Vanessa studied English at Exeter] I was going to
go to Lamda but had a meeting with theatre director David Thacker who persuaded me not to go and instead cast me in three plays at Bolton’s Octagon theatre. He said that could be my training! It turned out to be the best decision, as those roles were definitely my break and I’ve worked pretty solidly since. It’s quite overwhelming to be in something so big so soon in my career, though. I squealed when I saw a picture of Douglas and I as Estella and Pip in Radio Times!

How have your family taken to your success They’re just glad I’m working. My father has a ‘proper’ job – he’s a surgeon – and I don’t think he took me seriously when I said I wanted to be an actress. He used to suggest I’d be good in PR as I’m so chatty! My nan was excited about seeing me in Great Expectations – she’s 90 so can’t really get out and about to see me in plays. I’m very close to her – she’s more like a friend or a sister than a grandma.

How did you start out My parents took me to the theatre a lot when I was growing up, but I think the turning point was seeing Vanessa Redgrave in The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre when I was 12 – I remember telling my dad that I wanted to perform there one day. And the crazy thing is, a few years later I was on the stage there playing Isabella in Women Beware Women.

Is there a role that got away Lavinia, Matthew Crawley’s first fiance, in Downton Abbey. Obviously the show is hugely successful and my close friend Jess is in the series, so I was gutted not to get it. But if I had I wouldn’t have been able to do Great Expectations, so everything happens for a reason.

‘Pinch yourself’ moment Being invited to the Mulberry London Fashion Week show last year. They gave me an amazing scarlet Bayswater bag which I’m in love with.

Secret skill I love making cakes, although I do use The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and try to pass them off as my own recipes!

Great Expectations is available now on DVD from Labyrinth will be on Channel 4 later in the year

Great Expectations

Vanessa with Douglas Booth is Great Expectations

Victoria Justice

The singing sensation

Victoria Justice, 19, is an American singer/songwriter and actress. She started her career aged ten and starred in Zoey 101 with Jamie Lynn Spears before landing the lead role in Victorious on Nickelodeon. She has just finished the Josh Schwartz-directed movie
Fun Size, which will be out later this year.

Did you always want to be an actress I’ve been modelling and acting since I was young – I’ve always felt comfortable with the camera.
Could you ever choose between acting and singing Victorious enabled me to combine the two, as my character goes to a performing-arts school. To me, Justin Timberlake has had the perfect career – he was in a boy band and now he’s in Oscar-nominated films. I recently did my first concert, in front of 8,000 people in Los Angeles – as I walked off stage I told my mum that I was addicted to performing and never wanted to do anything else.

Have you had to make sacrifices for success My family moved from Florida to California so I could pursue performing. We lived in a town called Hollywood in Florida and people used to say I was born in the wrong Hollywood! My mum travels everywhere with me and is almost like a best friend.

Dream role A very meaty, gritty part – such as Sienna Miller’s Edie Sedgwick in Factory Girl.

Starstruck moment I presented an award at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards – it was amazing to be included in such fabulous company. Lady Gaga and Beyonc were there and I’d love to be able to perform there one day.

Beauty secret Dot brown eyeliner on to pimples to create beauty spots!

Flats or heels I’m always in heels for work, so in everyday life it’s flats.

Ultimate splurge A car – but I need to pass my test first!

Celebrity crush Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 500 Days of Summer – when I watch it I think, ‘I want a boyfriend just like you!’

Constantly mistaken for Nina Dobrev from The Vampire Diaries. She’s gorgeous, so I don’t mind!

Watch Victorious daily on Nickelodeon ( The album Victorious: Music From the Hit TV Show is out now


Victoria in the TV show Victorious

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