'Actors are allowed normal jobs too'

Image copyright
BBC / Jack Barnes

Image caption

Katie Jarvis played Hayley Slater in EastEnders

Soap actors have been speaking out in support of ex-EastEnders actress Katie Jarvis, who made the news this weekend for having taken a job in a shop.

The Daily Star’s front page revealed the actress, who played Hayley Slater, was now working as security guard at a B&M store in Romford.

The story caused an outpouring of support on social media, as many noted the uncertain nature of the acting profession.

“So much love and respect for Katie Jarvis,” tweeted Gillian Taylforth, who plays Kathy Beale in the long-running BBC soap. “Hard work being a jobbing actor. Actors are allowed ‘normal’ jobs too, you know.”

Jarvis, who has two children, first made her name starring as Mia Williams in the 2009 British drama film Fish Tank, before heading to Albert Square for a year-long stint which ended in February 2019.

Actor and writer Kathy Burke showed her support for Jarvis by re-interpreting the headline of the tabloid story – or non-story, as she thought.

In a show of solidarity, many other TV stars revealed they too supplement their acting careers with other types of employment.

Tamzin Outhwaite wrote: “Yes, I am a landlady, a voice over artist, car boot salesperson, art dealer, up cyclist, interior designer, motivational speaker, and many other jobs… it’s what artists do to earn a living. They work in between jobs.”

‘No shame’

The actress added: “It’s called grafting! Or not being afraid of hard work… or loving your family enough to drop your dream for a bit to earn a living so the family can live life. And there is no shame in wanting to work hard to make sure your offspring are cared for.”

TV critic Emma Bullimore tells the BBC she understands why actors are getting upset with the newspaper for splashing Jarvis’s new non-acting job all over the front page in a “humiliating” manner.

But, she says, the situation is “more complicated” than some of the above soap stars are making out.

“I can see both sides of it really as it does feel quite cruel in the way that they did it, kicking her while she’s down I suppose,” says Bullimore.

Image caption

(L-R) Shane Richie as Alfie Moon, Jessie Wallace as Kat Moon and Katie Jarvis as Hayley Slater holding baby Cherry Slater in 2018

“But with a tabloid hat on, you can totally see that it is the perfect story – she was in one of the biggest shows on TV, had a massive part in it and she was basically in every scene for a little while.

“Then she disappeared, slightly oddly, and now suddenly she’s working at B&M. I think if she was working at Waitrose it would not be as good a story.”

Charlie Condou, who played Marcus Dent in Coronation Street, called the Jarvis story “shameful journalism,” adding he’d done something similar himself.

“When I left Corrie I had a string of very nice TV and theatre jobs,” he tweeted. “Then I didn’t.

“So I got a job working in a restaurant to pay my bills and take care of my kids. That’s what responsible adults do.”

‘Feels like a choice’

Since leaving EastEnders, Jarvis has kept a relatively low profile. However, in March, she tweeted to say she was “absolutely fine” following reports she had been “glassed” on a night out. She appears to have taken herself off social media since.

The 28-year-old east Londoner was reported in the Star as having said: “I’ve taken a step back from acting. I’ve got a job and I’m looking after my kids.”

Bullimore believes “it feels like a choice”, in this instance, for her to make the move away from the camera so soon, which makes it all the more intriguing for readers.

“I can see why people would want to read it because they’ll think ‘surely you’re really well paid if you’re on EastEnders and you’re living the life of an actress.’ And she was in it so recently, so ‘why would you need the money so quickly?’

“That’s not to say that I think it [the story] is fair, but I don’t think it’s necessarily any worse than the way that tabloids treat actors in general.”

Jarvis is not the first and won’t be the last actor to do a “normal job” before, during or after an acting career.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

(L-R) Jeremy Edwards, Geoffrey Owens and Gemma Merna have all acted and performed other jobs

Former Hollyoaks and Holby City actor Jeremy Edwards found work, like Jarvis, as a security guard and as a gardener. As Celebs Now reported, in 2011, he said: “I don’t know any actors who work consistently without other work. A lucky few, but not many, I had a good 10-year run!”

Gemma Merna, who played Carmen McQueen in Hollyoaks for eight years – winning best comedy performance at the 2007 British Soap Awards – now works as a yoga instructor and personal trainer.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Owens, who played Elvin in the Cosby Show between 1985 and 1992, was last year pictured working shifts behind the till at American grocery store chain, Trader Joe’s.

Rap star and Cosby Show fan Nicki Minaj donated $25,000 (£22,433) to the “legend”, however Owens donated the amount to a fund helping actors in need.