She is most known for starring on Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks as Hannah Ashworth.
But while Emma Rigby insists she still loves acting, she isn’t fazed by the glamorous lifestyle that often comes with it.
The actress, 27, admits that she had no desire to be ‘famous’ or a ‘celebrity’ and instead wants to use her voice to help those who are far more in need. Turning her back on Hollywood, where she had been living before recently moving back to London, Emma has jetted into Northern Kenya to assist CAFOD – an aid agency that is a member of the Disaster Emergency Committee. She met with communities that are currently living in desperate conditions and are forced to live on aid, as they have been left with nothing due to their tumultuous living environment and lack of access to resources.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline about the trip, Emma – who is an ambassador for CAFOD after reaffirming her Catholic faith earlier this year – admitted it had been ‘overwhelming’. She described her experience of meeting with the different communities and witnessing the conditions they live in as ‘heartbreaking and devastating to see’.
‘It’s really making me realise how things need to change,’ Emma said. ‘How we live our lives and the things that we think are significant… it’s almost like being on another planet. ‘The communities we are going to, they are sort of the forgotten communities because they are very hard to reach due to poor infrastructure, there’s not even roads to access the community.
‘People have to move because they have nothing, it’s been incredibly emotional.’
The acting talent admitted that she purposely doesn’t have any social media accounts, as she has made a conscious decision not to dabble in the online trend that has swept across the globe.
She claimed that it puts unnecessary pressure on young people to look a certain way and behave a certain way.
Emma continued: ‘Social media has created this sense of reality that is not reality… it’s insignificant. Being here in Kenya, this is our reality. This is where our focus should be. ‘There is so much pressure and focus on young people to conform and behave a certain way.
‘I don’t have any social media, it doesn’t interest me whatsoever,’ she insisted. ‘It doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s who you are that should be celebrated.
‘For me, I’m a very private person. It’s not something I have an interest in. I’m an actress – I don’t necessarily want to be famous and a celebrity, it’s about the acting.
‘The people that I respect – Judie Dench, Julie Walters – I just can’t imagine them being on social media. It’s a personal choice, but I’m quite shy as an individual.’
Emma’s trip to Kenya has given her a new outlook on life and she insists that going forward, she wants to be able to engage others about the problems other communities are facing across the globe.
For the blonde beauty, the chance to pursue acting projects with a ‘moral message’ is something she would relish, having been inspired by Hollywood star Angelina Jolie. ‘I was really inspired by Angelina Jolie’s work with the UN because she was doing something really important,’ Emma said.
Referencing BBC drama Three Girls – that recalled the stories of the victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale – Emma added: ‘I would like to tell stories that really make a difference. They are the sort of projects I would like to do now.’
While Emma did have experience of raising awareness through her work, thanks to her gruelling anorexia storyline on Hollyoaks, she isn’t keen to make a soap return.
Emma revealed: ‘Even people today say [Hannah’s story] really touched them.
‘It’s really rewarding and I love acting so much, so I feel very fortunate to have been able to do that.
‘It was the greatest opportunity to be on Hollyoaks, it was a real education, but no, I think everything has a time and I’m keen to move forward.’