Actress Melissa Fleming says she feels honoured after being nominated for a prestigious theatre award.
The 22-year-old, from Boldon Colliery, was chosen to represent London’s Mount View Academy of Theatre Arts in the Spotlight Prize.
The top honour sees theatre schools put forward their best student to perform at a showcase in front of industry professionals, including actors, directors, producers, and casting directors.
Melissa, who will graduate later this year with a degree in musical theatre, said: “Every drama school involved in Drama UK puts a student forward every year for the Spotlight Prize, and I couldn’t believe it when my teachers said they’d chosen me.
“It’s usually more of a straight acting thing, but Mount View is more of a musical theatre school so they alternate every year with who they nominate.
“There was 20 of us and they say it’s the best of the best from the schools so it was just such a huge honour to be nominated.”
Melissa had to perform a monologue and star in a short film to demonstrate her screen acting, which was shown on Tuesday night at the Bloomsbury Ballroom, in London.
She said: “Everyone had to do a three-minute monologue. I got someone to write one for me and I was first up to do it so it was really nerve-racking.
“It was in this really posh cabaret room and Spotlight had chosen the audience, so it was all industry people, like casting directors and actors, so it was really scary getting up in front of them all.”
Melissa didn’t win a prize, but for being nominated, she’ll be listed on Spotlight’s casting website for a year, something people usually have to pay for.
She added: “My agent was there and I went over to talk to them afterwards and was introduced to a casting director from ITV who said she thought I really stood out, and that was amazing.”
Melissa is now looking forward to a glittering career in showbusiness and hopes to follow in the footsteps of her big sister, Emilie, who spent a year starring in Les Miserables on the West End.
She said: “Being part of this was such an honour and an amazing experience. My dream is to be on the West End but this has opened doors to film and TV too and I’d love to do that as well.
“Seeing Emilie do it has spurred me on and made me realise I can do it too.
“If you work hard enough there’s nothing stopping you from realising your dreams.”