Hollyoaks Actress From Aberdeen Up For Major Soap Award

From the Evening Express – 26th May 2016

A woman who grew up in the Granite City has spoken of her joy at being nominated for a host of national awards.

Annie Wallace, who was born in the Holburn area of the city, became the first transgender person to be cast as a transgender character in a UK soap when she took on the role of headteacher Sally St Claire in Hollyoaks.

Annie, 51, always dreamed of being an actress but felt her dream would never become a reality.

After finishing school at Ashley Road and Aberdeen Grammar School, she worked at Kodak as a programmer, as well as being with a company specialising in photography and video. But little did she know that more than 30 years later, she would be starring in a daily soap opera.

Annie, who worked in computer science and sound engineering, made her first step into the world of television when she moved to Manchester and worked on Coronation Street as a research assistant for transgender character Hayley Cropper, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Annie said being the first transgender soap actress playing a transgender character adds pressure but she is thriving under it.

She said: “It’s been a bit of a responsibility being the first transgender soap actress. The public’s reaction has been absolutely lovely.

“Never in a million years did I think I would get to this point and I’m incredibly grateful for Hollyoaks for taking me on.

“Aberdeen formed my acting career and was part of the formation of my acting dreams.

“It’s been a dream.”

She added although she had loved her childhood in Aberdeen she felt she had no option but to leave.

Annie said: “I didn’t think I would get anywhere because when I was in Aberdeen, I just attended a Saturday morning drama club.

“Acting was always something I wanted to do but I kind of gave up on the idea because the nearest drama school was a long way from Aberdeen. I gave up on the acting for a long time and then took it up later in life.

“When I moved to Manchester and I was doing stuff for Coronation Street I got the acting buzz again.

“I fell in with the actors and felt this was what I really wanted to do.

“Julie was one of my best friends and urged me to try it.

“It was rediscovering a dream of my youth.”

She said she always knew she was a woman, but added: “Aberdeen was maybe not the best place to be transgender in the 1980s.

“It was still quite lagging behind when it came to that.

“I felt at the time I had to relocate to pursue this.

“I wanted to have a job and carry on my life and I never wanted to attract attention to myself in a way I wasn’t comfortable with at that time.

“But the world is now a different place and that’s why I decided to follow my dream.”

Hayley Cropper’s on screen death in 2014 was the catalyst for Annie trying her hand at becoming a regular actress.

Before starring in Hollyoaks, Annie appeared in an episode of Shameless in 2011 as school headmistress Miss Heller but the Channel 4 series, which is set in Chester, is her first permanent role.

Annie said: “A couple of years ago I thought the acting dream was achievable and Hollyoaks is absolutely wonderful.”

Annie said she still comes back to Aberdeen, having left in 1989, and tries to visit her family in the city about once a year.

She said: “Most of my family still stay in Aberdeen, including my mum and my sister.

“I try to go up once a year when I can and always try to have a breakfast at the Inversnecky.

“I have to pop into Codonas for a little while too and I like to go to the Malt Mill and places I remember.”

Now Annie has been nominated for a host of awards for her part as Sally St Claire.

She is up for best soap newcomer at the TV Choice Awards, as well as celebrity of the year at The National Diversity Awards.

Annie will also take to the red carpet on Saturday supporting fellow Hollyoaks cast members at The British Soap Awards.