UEL student Leon Lopez joins EastEnders cast

Leon Lopez, University of East London student and Eastenders actor. Picture: Kundu Nilay Kumar

Leon Lopez, University of East London student and Eastenders actor. Picture: Kundu Nilay Kumar - Credit: UEL

Actor Leon Lopez, who is a student at Stratford’s University of East London (UEL), has joined Albert Square.

Photographer: BBC/Kieron McCarron

Photographer: BBC/Kieron McCarron - Credit: BBC/Kieron McCarron

The former Brookside actor made his debut screen performance in EastEnders on Tuesday as Linford, foster son and brother of Claudette and Vincent Hubbard.

Lopez, 36, enrolled last autumn for a master’s degree in film at Stratford’s UEL and had planned to take a year out from his career – until EastEnders came calling.

He said: “I spoke to my agent and said, ‘this year I’m focusing on the film course. I want to make sure that I’m focused on my studies’.

“But they offered me the part – and I can’t really turn something like that down. I probably wouldn’t have auditioned for it, though, because I wanted to focus on the filmmaking.”

The former child star, best known for his role as Jerome Johnston in Channel 4’ soap opera Brookside, has remained on the UEL course despite his new acting duties.

A spokeswoman from the Stratford university said he “has continued to excel academically despite juggling coursework with filming commitments”.

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Leon is expected to appear in a few episodes of the BBC One soap and is keeping an open mind about his education prospects.

“The programme at UEL has been invaluable so far,” he said. “Even if I were to just put in these few months and it never went any further, I’ve learned a lot of take away with me.”

The Liverpool actor is also a budding filmmaker and chose to study at UEL over other universities because of the film programme’s mix of practical and theoretical knowledge.

Last summer he directed a feature film, Soft Lad, about the romantic relationship between a dancer and his brother-in-law, which he wrote, produced, directed and edited with a budget of £17,000.

The film premiered at the East End Film Festival in the same year and led Leon to the East London university after he spotted its sponsor advert on the back of the festival programme.

“It’s a great course, with great facilities,” he said. “The tutors are really good”.

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