She won acclaim and an army of fans for her role as Hannah Ashworth on hit soap Hollyoaks and has since gone on carve out a career for herself in Hollywood.
And as Emma Rigby settles back in the UK – with plans to appear on the West End stage – the 27-year-old actress is resolutely putting her love life on the back burner.
The blonde beauty told MailOnline: ‘I’m single and I have been for a long time. I just focus on career and I have done for many, many years. I’ll continue to do so. ‘For me, this is my first love and really have to give everything. It’s about hard work and determination. There’s so much that I want to do and achieve and I feel like you have to be selfish and really commit to it.’
Emma – who once dated Nottingham Forest footballer Matt Mills – is adamant not to tread down a path followed by so many of her contemporaries, who have become more famous for their personal lives than their screen work.
As such, the actress – who recently returned to her Merseyside hometown of St Helens after a number of years in Los Angeles – has decided to completely eschew social media. ‘It’s a difficult one, because I’m so grateful to all the fans that supported me when I first started on Hollyoaks at 14 and have supported me and watched my other work,’ she told MailOnline.
‘Having social media is such a powerful tool. You can give back to your fans and share a journey with them. However, for me personally, I’m super private and I just kind of keep myself to myself.
‘And I love acting, so I just kind of make sure it’s about acting as opposed to my life. Especially with the journey that I’ve come from.
‘Unfortunately there’s lots of people that still have the preconceived ideas, like I’m Northern, I was on Hollyoaks, negative things, which is just so ridiculous, because that’s not me. I’m actually proud where I’ve come from.’ Since settling back in the UK – ahead of her plans to make a move down to London in the New Year – Emma recently enjoyed a reunion with her former Hollyoaks family.
In a picture shared on Twitter, she was seen posing with Andy Moss, Sonny Flood, Jim Millea, Anthony Quinlan – and it was an ’emotional’ experience.
‘It was fantastic,’ cooed Emma. ‘These were people that played my family… They were my co-stars, but we also became like a real family. It’s such fond memories for me… It was just amazing to be together and be a part of it.
‘Meeting them cemented the idea that I was happy to be back. I was so excited to be back in England and see them. When we saw each other, nothing had changed. We’re still all the same people. It was emotional and funny.’ After experiencing a real-life Cinderella story in her rise from humble beginnings in Merseyside to now counting such stars as James Franco as pals, Emma will next hit screens in the American family movie A Cinderella Christmas.
The movie sees the actress take on the role of Angie, who spends her days working hard to run her uncle’s events business while her cousin takes all the credit.
When Angie takes one night off to have fun at the Christmas Masquerade Ball, the mask and gown allow her to let loose, and she quickly catches the eye of a wealthy local bachelor.
In a modern take on the classic fairytale, he is then tasked with tracking down the woman who attracted his attentions, only to disappear. After enjoying success, Emma has been determined about giving back, making a trip to her old secondary school to speak with students at a special prize-giving ceremony.
And she used her visit as an opportunity to engage the graduating students about following their dreams, though she’s passionate about the lack of funding allowing them to pursue careers in the arts and other fields.
‘I just think it’s so wrong,’ she said ‘I was really blessed that I had a supportive mother, but in the North you don’t have the same access. How are people supposed to achieve things if they don’t have the government funding for after-school activities?
‘I wanted to try and show them that I’m from nothing. I don’t have any contacts or money. I’m still on my journey but I’m getting there because of commitment, hard work and a real love for what I do.’