'Make the grade to be a star'

Hollyoakes actress Carley Stenson has warned budding pop divas and TV stars that they still need do well at school.

Across Wigan this morning thousands of teenagers received their GCSEs, with almost half expected to fail to achieve the five good passes required to go on to college or further education.

But Carley, from Billinge, says getting at least five A-C grades is important, even for youngsters with stars in their eyes.

And she should know, having risen to stardom from her studies at Winstanley College to appear in one of the most popular soaps on the box. The 25-year-old has played Steph Dean in Hollyoaks since she landed the role aged just 17.

Carley said: "If you're artistic and creative like Steph, you might think that qualifications aren't important.

"Unfortunately, this isn't the case. As well as talent and enthusiasm, it is vital to get a good set of qualifications to land your dream job, whatever that may be.

"The music industry is incredibly competitive and, to give yourself the edge, you need to have a fallback plan if things don't pan out – you have to get qualifications."

Carley says that Steph is a good example of someone who is pursuing their dream, but is still facing the reality of the job market.

She said: "By getting a good grounding in the basics, you'll give yourself a real advantage in the long run.

"For something a bit different like drama or singing, it's also really useful to get as much experience as possible.

"Joining a local acting society or being involved in your college choir will show you're really committed to your dream, as well as giving you vital exposure to an audience."

The actress says there are more opportunities now for young people to make sure they fulfil their potential, but she remembers how much she struggled for cash when she was at Winstanley College treading the boards.

"I know that a lot of young people decide to drop out because they think they need the cash. But if you stay on at school or college you might be eligible for Education Maintenance Allowance – that's up to 30 a week to help cover your costs.

Local GCSE results will be published in the Wigan Evening Post from tomorrow.