Former EastEnders star Katie Jarvis has said she is “overwhelmed” by the support she has received from the acting community after it was revealed she works as a security guard.
The actress, who played Hayley Slater on the BBC One soap for a year until February, is employed by variety retailer B&M in Romford, Essex, and the news of her job made the front pages on Sunday.
Jarvis, 28, said that she felt “degraded” and like she was being “job-shamed” over the newspaper reports, but that she was grateful to have the support of other actors.
EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite and comic and actress Kathy Burke were among those defending Jarvis on social media, as well as former soap stars Bronagh Waugh and Charlie Condou.
Jarvis told BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire: “I am overwhelmed, I didn’t realise on Sunday… it hit me, and where I’m not on Twitter I’ve never seen any of this.
“There’s pros and cons to that, it’s kept me from some of the bad stuff but to hear that was amazing, so I’m glad I’ve got their support.”
Outhwaite, known for playing Mel Owen in EastEnders, said that Jarvis is “grafting” and that there is “no shame” in working in other jobs to earn a living.
She added: “Yes, I am a landlady, a voice over artist, car boot salesperson, art dealer, up cyclist, interior designer, motivational speaker, and many other jobs… it’s what artists do to earn a living. They work in between jobs.”
Burke tweeted: “Person gets job so her kids don’t starve? Good for her.”
Former Coronation Street star Condou tweeted: “When I left Corrie I had a string of very nice tv and theatre jobs. Then I didn’t. So I got a job working in a restaurant to pay my bills and take care of my kids. That’s what responsible adults do.”
Waugh, who has appeared in Hollyoaks and The Fall, tweeted: “It’s the reality of being a jobbing, working actor. No shame in it at all.
“Sidenote: we’re playing real people with real experiences so having other jobs actually often helps inform how we approach certain roles. It’s called life experience.”
Jarvis, who starred in the Bafta-winning film Fish Tank in 2009 opposite Michael Fassbender and won a British Independent Film Award for best newcomer, said that many actors take jobs in between roles.
“Over the years I’ve had so many different jobs in between, not just a security guard,” she said.
“When I was 17 and I got found for Fish Tank I was doing the doughnuts with my uncle at the time at festivals, and things like that. I’ve been a waitress, I’ve worked in a credit card company, I’ve done admin, I’ve done all types of things.”
She said that the news of her job made her feel “really embarrassed” and “ashamed” but that she let it digest and realised “I had nothing to be ashamed about”.