Eleven-year-old Ela-May Demircan, from Cheshire, plays mischievous Leah Barnes in C4’s soap opera Hollyoaks...

Q. How did you get the part of Leah?
A. “I auditioned when I was four. I’d just joined an agency the week before.”

Q. Do you remember
what you had to do at the audition?
A. “I had to say some lines from a short script. I didn’t audition with any other actors, but my first scene was with Kieron Richardson, who plays Ste, and Ashley Slanina-Davies, who plays Amy, my dad and mum on Hollyoaks.

Hollyoaks half-siblings Lucas (William Hall) and Leah (Ela-May)

Q. How do you prepare for the role of Leah?
A. “When I first started playing Leah, I was very young and it used to feel like pretend playing.” 

Q. Tell us a bit about Leah.
A. “She’s mischievous, stubborn, but loveable. She’s had a very difficult start in life.” 

Q. How do you stop yourself from getting nervous when you’re on set?
A. “Feeling nervous makes filming more exciting. When I have a difficult scene, I like to speak to Kieron first. If I’m not filming with him I like to call him. He makes me feel better.”

From back left: Amy Barnes (Ashley Slanina-Davies), Ryan Knight (Duncan James), Lucas Hay (William Hall) and Leah (Ela-May Demircan)

Q. What do you like best about being in Hollyoaks?
A. “That I get to do something I love with people who share the same passion.” 

Q. What kind of direction do you get for a scene?
A. “The directors help me by telling me where to stand and they give me cues on when to say lines or suggest different ways to say certain things.”

Q. How often do you film Hollyoaks and what happens about your schoolwork?
A. “Each day is different. If I’m in a big storyline, like ‘Who Killed Amy?’, which involved a lot of time off school, I have a really great tutor so I can keep up with schoolwork.”

Ela-May (as Leah) with her on-screen dad, Ste (played by Kieron Richardson)

Q. What’s your top tip for other young performers?
A. “Be confident in yourself and be strong. Put everything into your performances and don’t take rejections to heart.” 

Q. What’s been the most amazing thing that’s happened to you so far in your career?
A. “When I was nominated for the Best Young Performer Award at the British Soap Awards 2017. I was super-surprised.”

Q. What do you like to do when you have free time?
A. “I love to read. My favourite book is Goodnight Mister Tom, by Michelle Magorian.”

As told to Nicola Venning