Eastenders TV star returns to Kings Heath roots to inspire new generation of local talent

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A Kings Heath-based youth theatre company welcomed back one of its former members who has gone on to star in Eastenders and Mr Selfridge.

The actor Lauren Crace joined the Stage2 Youth Theatre when she was 11 years old and a pupil at Swanshurst School. This week she returned to the company to talk about her life in television and inspire a new generation of local talent.

After leaving Stage2 Lauren went on to train at RADA (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) in London before finding fame in the world of television. She says her time at the Valentine Road, Kings Heath, company gave her an excellent start.

“It’s a really magical experience to be on stage when you’re so young and it’s really quite uplifting and empowering,” she says.

Lauren is the daughter of Moseley author Jim Crace. She won a best newcomer award for her part as Danielle Jones in Eastenders. Her character was killed off in a dramatic episode in 2008 attracting over 11 million viewers. Her more recent role has been as Doris Miller in the ITV period drama Mr Selfridge.

Other former members of Stage2 going on to bigger things include Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who /Broadchurch), Sam Swann (Royal Shakespeare Company), Colin Ryan (Leonardo) and Kate Ashfield (Shaun of the Dead). Many others have found success in performing, directing and other theatrical roles.

Stage2 was founded 28 years ago by Liz Light from Kings Heath and started out at the mac in Cannon Hill Park. The company now rehearses at Birmingham City University's Millennium Point studios and puts on shows at the Crescent Theatre.

The next show will be a world première of Hard Working Families. It has been written especially for Stage2 by the company's patron Claire Dowie.

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