Ex-@OldhamCollege student @kimberly_h_s from @itvcorrie and @Hollyoaks is set to star in @CelebsGoDating 2021.
Kimberly Hart-Simpson from is in the line-up just unveiled for the popular E4 show which is returning in a new format – Celebs Go Dating: The Mansion – airing from 9pm on Monday, January 25*.
The 33-year-old hit the big time when she landed on Coronation Street’s famous cobbles last year following a stint in Hollyoaks.
Kimberly was cast as escort Nicky Wheatley last June opposite Rob Mallard, another Oldham College alumni.
Ahead of Oldham College’s next Virtual Open Day (January 30) Kimberly – who trod the boards as a Performance student starring in productions including ‘Fame’ and ‘Honk!’ – explains how the course prepared her for a career in the spotlight, shares her advice for industry hopefuls, and cautions that success doesn’t come overnight.
"It all taught me the core values of being in this industry," she said. "You have to be punctual, give 110 per cent to everything you do – and even when things get tough, you can't be disheartened.
"It was such a great experience and we were a real tight-knit group. Oldham College built the fire in me that inspired the rest of my career."
Kimberly describes being offered the role of Corrie’s Nicky Wheatley as one of the best days of her life.
"I was crying on the floor - it was so dramatic, like a movie scene!”, she laughed.
"Getting the job with Coronation Street was my career goal. My dad was Corrie mad. He sadly passed away some time ago, and I knew I had to do it for him.
"The journey to Corrie was full of jobs I didn't like, or wouldn't have chosen, but it was all worth it to land a role that is so important to me."
Kimberly believes the most important thing you can do to develop a successful acting career in modern times is to "go beyond your talent" – and build yourself as a brand.
"As well as acting, I have a side business reworking and selling garments through ASOS,” she said.
"It makes me more marketable. As I have an online following through my business, Corrie saw me as a 'package' who would bring an audience in."
That business also stops Kimberly from feeling discouraged – and worrying about her future – when acting work is slack.
"I think it's so important to have passions and interests outside of acting,” she said.
“I'm earning money and enjoying myself, even when I haven't got a role lined up – and I've been there. I know how it feels when you give an audition your all and you don't get the part. It can take over."
Filming Coronation Street during the COIVD-19 pandemic was a unique experience.
Following social distancing guidelines on set meant actors could not have any physical contact. This was an added challenge for Kimberly whose character, Nicky, was a sex worker whose relationship blossomed with on-screen love interest, Dan Osborne, played by Rob Mallard.
"Building a relationship with Rob was tricky at first,” Kimberly said.
“We had to really step up to the role so that viewers could feel the chemistry between us without any touching. It wasn't too difficult once you got used to it but the writers were great: they really helped us to adapt and problem solve as we went along."
Kimberly was determined not to portray a clichéd depiction of sex workers in her role as Nicky.
"There are so many stereotypes of how sex workers behave and how they dress – and I wanted to do my bit to dismantle that,” she said.
“Why couldn't Nicky be more presentable? I liked that she has a back story, with reasons for going into the industry – it made the character seem much more real."
Kimberly and co-star Rob had never met before Coronation Street – but soon learned they'd both started their acting careers at Oldham College.
"It's nice to have that bond because you know the world you've both come from”, said Kimberly.
"There's a planted grit in Oldham people. We all know that if you want something, you'll work for it.”
“It's the best place in the world and deserves greatness."
* Celebs Go Dating: The Mansion starts on Monday, January 25 on E4. Kimberly will be starring alongside Love Island star Curtis Pritchard, ex-Strictly Come Dancing contestant Karim Zeroual, Geordie Shore's Chloe Ferry, club owner Wayne Lineker (brother of Gary), Made in Chelsea's Sophie Hermann and DJ Tom Zanetti.