FROM treading the boards in North theatres to rubbing shoulders with Hollywood's top stars, actress Andrea Riseborough has had a meteoric rise to stardom. The 31-year-old, whose new film Oblivion has hit the big screen, caught the acting bug during her early years in the North.
And today those who helped forge her career tell how her time on Tyneside set her on the path to stardom.
Andrea, who grew up in Whitley Bay, took part in drama lessons and performed in several plays while at Church High School, in Jesmond, Newcastle. She also starred in a string of shows at the city's People's Theatre.
She later took on a variety of jobs including dance choreography and working in a Chinese restaurant before realising she wanted to act full-time.
By the age of 20, she had won a place at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and graduated in 2005.
This was followed by critically-acclaimed stage and film roles, including Made in Dagenham, Brighton Rock and Madonna's W.E. She has also played a young Margaret Thatcher in BBC drama The Long Walk to Finchley.
Now, as the award-winning actress jets around the world to promote sci-fi thriller Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman, her former mentors and colleagues in Tyneside have told of their pride.
Judith Cunningham, who was the star's drama teacher at Church High, said: "Andrea attended Church High from junior school and she was actually quite a quiet girl but she always loved to express herself through drama and artistic subjects.
"She showed huge potential throughout school, right from junior level and she was always keen to be involved in junior productions and drama lessons.
"As is the case with all of our girls that go on to be a great success in their chosen field, we are delighted that Andrea has done so well and the entire teaching staff at Church High are incredibly proud of her achievements. "Over recent years we have seen Andrea's career build hugely and we watch with keen interest where she goes next. I look forward to going to see the new movie with Andrea and Tom Cruise."
The actress herself fondly remembers her time in the North East.
Speaking of the People's Theatre, she said: "It was a huge part of my growing up, from the age of nine. That is what introduced me to Shakespeare and all sorts of other wonderful writers."
She added: "I owe a lot to the People's and although my life these days doesn't allow it as much as I would like, I do try and get back home as often as I can."
The venue's manager, Steve Robertson, said: "She was a great girl. She performed in a number of productions here and she was a fantastic actress.
"She was a dedicated person, you could tell that this is what she wanted to do and she was destined for great things. Everyone here is really proud of her. To see her in major films, alongside stars like Tom Cruise, makes our heart swell."
Chris Goulding, of Jesmond, had the chance to direct Andrea in a play at the People's Theatre.
The 54-year-old, a teacher at Newcastle's Royal Grammar School, said: "Her first stage appearance was when she was nine. It was in a play I wrote called Riding England Sidesaddle and Andrea played the part of Celia Fiennes. She was very good. Even at that age, she very much enjoyed being on stage. She was very professional and calm.
"I also directed her as a teenager in a show called Your Home in the West. She was 16 or 17 at the time.
"Andrea was very easy to direct, she took direction very well. By that time, she was serious about acting. I have followed her career with interest and feel very proud at her success."
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OCTOBER 31, 2014
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