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Rose Ayling-Ellis | Performer

Rose Ayling-Ellis | Performer

If you need convincing about the potential talent that can be unlocked through greater inclusion and the wider impact this can have on society, then perhaps Rose Ayling-Ellis can provide it. Deaf since birth, Rose has consistently defied her doubters, not only demonstrating a talent for acting in the likes of Stephen Poliakoff’s Summer of Rockets (2019) and as a regular on EastEnders (2020-2022), but also winning Strictly Come Dancing (2021) with pro dancer Giovanni Pernice. Their silent Couple’s Choice dance won a BAFTA this year in the publicly voted Virgin Media Must-see Moment category. Rose is about to make her West End debut as Celia in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. It’s a far cry from when Rose was scrambling around Facebook, agent-less, searching for work.

In her own words:

“Breaking through in the industry as an actor is really hard, but when you have a disability it’s even harder. I want to do more acting. I’m really passionate about that, but opportunity doesn’t come to me very often. BAFTA Breakthrough is a programme for opportunity, so I’m hoping it will provide me with more...

“Performing was something I never thought was an option. At school, it was always the popular kids who did it. I thought there was no way I could do that because I’m deaf. But I fell in love with it...

“I did quite a few short films through a deaf company and I joined a deaf theatre [Deafinitely Theatre]. I found all my jobs through Facebook. I got Casualty and Summer of Rockets [through Facebook ads]. That led to me getting an agent and they got me more theatre work and then EastEnders and Strictly. Without an agent, I’d never be able to do this...

“You don’t need to make disabled stories, just have disabled people in them as characters. It should have some element of them being disabled, because that’s who they are, but it doesn’t have to be about that. The change needs to be behind the scenes, too... There are people trying, which is better than not. But it’s just so slow. It’s like, ‘Come on! Can’t we go a bit faster please?’”

Rose’s Breakthrough credit is television series EastEnders

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