How a Stratford actress made it to one of London’s most prestigious stages

Stratford-raised Petra Letang is performing in a new play at the Royal Court Theatre - A Kind Of Peo

Stratford-raised Petra Letang is performing in a new play at the Royal Court Theatre - A Kind Of People. Picture: Helen Murray. - Credit: Helen Murray

Raised in Stratford, Petra Letang is now performing on one of London’s most prestigious stages - the West End’s Royal Court Theatre.

After going to St Angela's Ursuline School in Forest Gate, Petra was "discovered" by an agent at 19. Not sure if she could be a professional actress, she turned him down at first.

At the urging of her drama teacher, she called him back.

"I remember [him] laughing and saying, 'I thought I'd hear back from you.

"The rest is history. He paved the way for me. I've been working every since."

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"It's been an amazing journey. I'm looking forward to doing more TV, more theatre, more everything."

Her doubts about the job vanished when she worked in TV for the first time: "Being on set, that's when I thought, 'this is so cool, I want to do this as a living."

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Playing characters on the West End, Petra has also appeared on EastEnders and Holby City.

Despite her successes, she's often felt like an impostor in the field. At 40, she's now comfortable calling herself a professional actor.

She gave this advice for young people in Newham who want to break into the industry: "Put yourself out there. Sometimes when you feel that you're talented, you expect people to come to you."

If you don't put yourself out there, she added, you're going to get lost.

The first information she found about being an actress was with her mum at Stratford Library. For aspiring actors, she suggested doing research or looking at successful performers and follow their steps to stardom.

Petra's now in the play A Kind of People at the Royal Court - on from December 5 until January 18. It looks at the daily life and struggles of people in a modern British community.

"It's a commentary on how hard it is, difficult it is to raise a family, to have a functioning relationship.

"It's how you're judged because of the colour of your skin.

"I definitely notice a lot of the issues that are spoken about in the play with my friends and family.

"It'll be a good piece for people to come away from and say, 'I have a part to play.'"

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