‘Jamie Oliver helped me land my big break as EastEnders’ Lola,’says Danielle Harold

Danielle Harold has opened up about the beginning of her acting career, revealing her appearance on Jamie's Dream School ultimately led to her landing her big break on EastEnders.

The actress, 31, left school with just one GCSE after a health condition resulted in her being in and out of hospital throughout her teenage years.

She went on to work for a catering company and continued attending auditions in her spare time as she had a desire to be an actress.

“I was so determined,” Danielle told The Sun. “I queued for 11 hours to audition for the part of Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter and they literally closed the barrier on me, the last kid waiting."

Despite experiencing setbacks, Danielle didn't give up and continued to attend auditions while working at the catering company.

Then, two opportunities came along at once – Danielle was offered a promotion at her catering job and a pot on Jamie Oliver's new TV show, Jamie's Dream School.

She chose to appear on the show, which aired in 2011. Jamie's Dream School helped a group of teenagers who all had less than give GCSEs and put them into a school where they would be taught by celebrities, who each specialised in a specific subject.

Danielle branded the show the "perfect opportunity" for her as it showed her that she could "still excel in life" despite her school grades.

The scholarship money she received was then spent on acting classes with a private coach, and Danielle soon found herself auditioning for EastEnders.

Danielle first appeared on screen as Lola Pearce in 2011 and remained on the soap until 2015, when she took a break. She returned in 2019 and remained in Albert Square until May 2023, when Lola heartbreakingly passed away from a brain tumour.

She said: She adds: “That’s why I always tell people who want to break into acting to keep going. If you have the passion and the talent, you’ll get there. You don’t necessarily need to go to a big drama school to do it.”

Since leaving EastEnders, Danielle has won several awards for Lola's tragic brain tumour storyline and she's now auditioning for new roles as she looks to further her acting career.

She's also filmed Celebrity Hunted for Stand Up To Cancer, which will air next year, as well as a short feature film in Scotland. It's also been reported that Danielle is in talks with ITV bosses to appear on this year's I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

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