At just 16 years old Angela Griffin was thrust into the spotlight when she was cast as hairdresser Fiona Middleton on Coronation Street.
Unlike many child actresses, her career hasn’t resulted in a stint at rehab or a career meltdown. In fact, the Leeds-born actress’s career has gone from strength to strength, going from the cobbles to starring opposite huge names like Rob Lowe and Idris Elba.
So, how has Angela managed to keep her cool while others around her haven’t been as lucky? Speaking on The Attitude, she told podcast host Kate Thornton her mum has been the driving force in her outlook and journey through life.
“My mum is the person who absolutely shaped me, absolutely shaped my mindset,” she said. “My mum, to me, is the most amazing person in the whole wide world. She came from nothing.”
Here are a few other pearls of wisdom that Angela’s mum Sheila passed on.
1. See the silver lining
Even though Angela’s mum had a tough childhood, she grew up with a positive mindset and always liked to try and turn a negative into a positive.
When Angela suffered from racial abuse at school, her mum told her all those people saying nasty things about her spent hundreds of pounds going to Spain so they could look just like her.
“She's glass half full, my mum” Angela told Kate. “I don't know how sometimes, but she's really practical. She's really logical. She doesn't sit and feel sorry for herself. It's like, ‘What can I do? How can I make this situation better?’ And she's absolutely passed that onto me a hundred thousand percent.”
2. Have a Plan B
Angela knew from a young age that she wanted to be an actor but coming from a non-showbiz family, where her mum was a secretary and her step-dad was a cleaner, she was taught to have a back-up plan. So she got her GCSEs and her mum also taught her how to touch type.
Angela says she loves having a Plan B as, in her insecure career, it gives her an anchor. “It gives me the security that I need… And if I haven't got a Plan B then I'll go into panic mode,” she revealed.
“I've always got to know that there's a backup plan - and then that allows me the calmness to carry on with Plan A. I think my mum was like that. It was, 'You want to be an actress? Absolutely brilliant. Fantastic. Make sure you've got your office skills, make sure you've got GCSEs. If that doesn't work out, you've always got that.’”
This attitude also meant that even while working on Coronation Street, Angela still also kept up her job in Burger King.
“I'd wanted to be an actor, but I didn't realise you can really make money from it,” she explained.
“I didn't really let go [of her job in Burger King] until I had to because you just never know. What if they turn out to say ‘You're not in it anymore?’ And then I've got rid of my job that pays me a hundred quid a week at Burger King.”
3. Always have your bus fare home!
When asked by Kate what her best piece of mum advice was, Angela revealed her mum always told her to make sure she had her bus fare home.
“Always have your bus fare home was my mum's motto to me,” she laughed, “and she meant that practically and metaphorically.”
In fact, Angela is so prepared that she always carries around a bag that contains a whole stash of goodies including deodorant, a needle and thread and £10 so that she’s never caught short.
4. Be confident in who you are
Angela’s mum instilled so much confidence in her that she didn’t realise other people weren’t the same as her until she started acting.
“I didn't realise how much confidence I was given until I meet people who haven't gotten it,” she said. “You have to learn to forgive yourself and like yourself and accept yourself and celebrate the good bits, and also understand that everyone's got a bit that they don't like, so just enjoy the bits that are good and the bits that aren't…”
In fact, Angela grew up in a household where her mum was obese and the colour of her own skin was an issue with people, yet she’s never been obsessed with how she looks.
“I couldn't even tell you what size I was when I was younger” she said.
The actress went on to recall how the first time she became aware of how she looked was while working on TV.
“The first time weight and what I looked like really came to mind when I was in Coronation Street and we’d do photoshoots” she recalled.
“Tracy Shaw, who obviously has very publicly battled eating disorders, [was a co-star] and they'd bring all these outfits and they’d fit her. They didn't fit me, and I was a bit like, ‘Uh? How? I don't understand!’ And that was the first time I think I ever went, ‘Oh God, I've got to think about how I look.’”
The actress, who appeared in Cutting It alongside Amanda Holden, said more recently she has struggled with going up a dress size. However, she has a very realistic approach and instead of being obsessed with clothes size, she wants to make sure she’s healthy.
“I don't want to be a size 10,” she told Kate. “I feel no need to be like a thin person, but you've got to be healthy. I want to live a really long time.”
“I want to be still running. I want to still be able to go shopping with my kids. I want to still be able to go on a European city break with me husband and walk around every week everywhere without having to sit down and take breaks. I don't want to slow down. The idea of slowing down is absolutely terrifying!”
Get Angela’s confident look from Harpenne
Kate Thornton wears:
Red Military Roll Neck Jumper, £50
Angela Griffin wears:
Purple Animal Print Tie Front Midi Dress, £89
Hear Angela talk more about her attitude to life and why her friendship with Lisa Faulkner and Nicola Stephenson is so precious on the latest episode of The Attitude. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.