Fame And Faith: Interview With Emma Rigby

Author: Alastair McIver

Picture: Alastair McIver

Fame And Faith: Interview With Emma Rigby

Alastair McIver talks to British Hollywood actress Emma Rigby about the challenges of fame and rediscovering her faith.

Emma Rigby is one of those rare breed of actresses that has fought her corner and come off the ropes in an industry not known for its benevolence. 

With no acting family heritage or privileged opportunities to help her, this 27 year old has climbed the ladder in both the UK and the US, with more to come.

If ever there was a role model for young, aspiring UK actresses, Emma Rigby is it.

Despite her success, she acknowledges her journey to the top has been tough, and that her faith has helped her through.

“The industry is incredibly brutal and harsh, and that is why you have to be as sure of yourself as you can be and make sure you equip yourself," she says.

"It’s only now, through a combination of faith, deepened spirituality and respecting myself that I am doing that.”

Rapid Rise

A Catholic upbringing in St Helen’s was the foundation for Emma’s journey. She achieved a rapid rise to the top of the TV ratings, achieving the accolade of 2008 Soap Actress of the Year aged just 18 for the role of Hannah Ashworth in TV soap Hollyoaks.

After leaving that role, Emma achieved prime time TV success as the lead in Prisoners Wives, as well as parts in TV favourites Ripper Street, Fresh Meat and Becoming Human.

America then beckoned, and four years ago she headed to Hollywood.

“My manager told me to go to the US and do an audition.

“I did pieces of work there but maybe it wasn’t the right time for me,” she acknowledges.

“My advice to someone else would be to wait. Also I was going to the US alone. I wasn’t going with a team of people. That was a dark time. My health suffered, and I was unhappy.

"Sometimes you have to experience those darkest points before you can see the light.”

It is obvious that Emma’s four years in the States was challenging.

“I had a four year period where I chose to move away from my faith,” she says.

“It wasn’t intentional, but it’s interesting that only now I am back in the UK have I found real joy and fulfilment.”

Return To The UK

Emma returned to the UK at the end of 2016 after a hectic round of films and American TV.

Highlights included Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, which was prime time on ABC, and the highly acclaimed The Physician, in which Emma starred opposite Sir Ben Kingsley.

Returning to the UK, friends invited her to begin this new chapter of her life on retreat. A visit to Ffald Y Brenin, Pembrokeshire, proved to be a breakthrough in her faith journey.

“I had an experience at the retreat and was presented with things that were new."

"I had this deep re-engagement with God. It made me decide that it was going to be the biggest part of who I am.”

She has already filmed two new movies this year and played lead parts in TV favourites Inspector George Gently and Endeavour. She has also visited Africa with CAFOD.

“I am content now because of my faith. It’s such a beautiful experience because it’s knowing that God is always on my side and that is what I love."

"I have made so many mistakes, but to God that doesn’t matter. He absolutely forgives me; He made me, He loves me and wants only the best for me," she says.

"That’s the way I choose to live my life now. For me, the only person that matters, and I answer to now, is God.” 

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