Article June 27, 2024

Award-winning actress Lillia Turner — star on screen, online student backstage

By King's InterHigh

At just 15 years old, young actress Lillia Turner has already achieved a feat many only dream of: winning an national award.

For Lillia, hearing her name announced as Best Young Performer at the British Soap Awards last year was a culmination of all the hard work that began three years earlier, when she was first cast in the role of Lily Slater on long-standing British soap opera EastEnders at the age of 11.

Lillia’s success (and the acclaim she’s received from viewers over the years) is made all the more remarkable by the challenging nature of her storylines on the show. “We put so much time into making sure that it was accurate and that it was relatable,” says Lillia, committed to making sure her acting resonates with people who have found themselves in difficult situations at a young age.

Of course, while Lillia’s life is nowhere near as tumultuous as that of her character Lily, she still faces a balancing act of her own: juggling her acting life with her education. Thankfully for Lillia, online school is making that balance a lot easier.

The best of both worlds

Joining King’s InterHigh was such a good career move because it really did help me balance everything so much better,” says Lillia, who recently became a GCSE student and online school ambassador here in our community. Like most young actors, Lillia always had the support of her tutors on set. As a result, even before she joined online school, she was able to keep up her grades.

However, there was still one key component missing: the benefit of real, live classes. Tutoring helped Lillia get her schoolwork done, but she still missed out on all the strengths of learning from subject specialist teachers, collaborating with classmates on group work, and taking part in typical classroom activities.

Now, at King’s InterHigh, Lillia gets to enjoy all of that in our real-time virtual classes without having to make any sacrifices in her acting career. Our school goes wherever she goes, which means Lillia can join her lessons everywhere from the green rooms on set to the car rides between work and home.

With King’s InterHigh, it’s all so flexible and everything is constantly updated online, so I can just pick it up when I’m at work whenever I need to.

And, even when Lillia misses a class because she’s busy filming scenes, she never has to miss out on lessons. “Now everything’s recorded, I can just pick it up and watch it later,” she explains, using our 24/7 library of lesson recordings to learn with all the great discussions and teacher explanations of live lessons at any time that works for her. 

Walking the red carpet

Lillia gets a similar school experience to the typical teenager with King’s InterHigh, but her life is anything but typical. One day she may be studying maths and English, and the next she may be walking the red carpet.

Of course, even for Lillia, attending the prestigious British Soap Awards was an exciting experience. “It was the first time I’d ever gone to a big event with a red carpet and press, so it was quite new to me,” she recalled of the experience. While she found the red-carpet experience “quite nerve-racking,” nothing compared to the surprise of winning the Best Young Performer award.

Despite the praise she’s received from viewers for years, Lillia had self-doubts just like anyone else would. For one, she was the only girl nominated in the category, finding herself up against three young actors with particularly high-profile storylines on their shows. On top of that, Lillia — like many at home — also believed that she’d be told in advance if she was going to win. In the end, when her name was called, Lillia says, “my brain just completely went blank!

I kept saying to myself that if I did win, I was going to be really humble and calm. But they called my name, and I just started screaming. Everyone came up to me. We were all so happy.

A great support system

I was lucky to have stayed with Jessie Wallace (Kat Slater, EastEnders) the whole night,” Lillia explains of her night at the British Soap Awards, “and she’s been to these things before, so she walked me through it.

It takes a great support system to not only forge an acting career, but also balance stardom with school and everyday life. Thankfully, Lillia always has someone on her side. On set, her on-screen family, Lacey Turner (Stacey Slater, EastEnders) and Gillian Wright (Jean Slater, EastEnders), are mentors as well as co-stars.

When she’s studying in the green room, she also often has fellow young actor Frankie Day (Ricky Branning, EastEnders) by her side. “He’s good at maths and I was always good at maths,” she says, “so we help each other with that.

Lacey and Gill, especially, have almost mentored me because they've been where I am — especially Lacey, because she was in my exact position because she's been with EastEnders from a young age.

That strength and guidance is just as important in the classroom, and Lillia says her King’s InterHigh teachers are always supportive of her career and her need for flexibility.

Surprising synergy

Ultimately, everyone comes together to make sure Lillia can get the best of both worlds as a starlet and student. In turn, that’s reflected in Lillia’s dual passions for film and academics.

Naturally, the world of visual media is one of Lillia’s loves. As part of her acting classes, Lillia practices improv: the ability to come up with lines and scenes on the spot. While her role on EastEnders is scripted, she loves when she’s able to bring those improv skills into her work, suggesting alternative lines for her character, Lily.

If you come up with something in the moment and you try it and it looks great on TV, then it looks great. If it doesn’t, you just cut it and do it again. That's what I like so much about film. You can try things and it's all very experimental.

Alongside film, Lillia is also passionate about psychology and economics — two of the GCSE subjects she’s studying at King’s InterHigh. “I never did them at my old school,” she explains, as they were “never an option for me.” Both can be challenging subjects for any young student, but with flexible online learning, Lillia’s always able to keep up to speed.

I enjoy economics because I like the problem solving. Psychology is always something I've been really interested in, so when I found out I could do it at King's InterHigh, I was so excited.

Interestingly, Lillia’s school and acting passions also intertwine. While it may sound surprising, her improv talents come in handy for English studies: “When you have to do improv, it helps so much with your writing skills.” Likewise, Lillia says learning lines has really improved her memory, which has been brilliant for studying. “When I first started out,” she explains, “I’d have to read them loads and loads and loads, and then I’d always overthink it. But now, it’s become so much easier for me.” 

I think it's so good for people to take [acting classes]. It’s a creative thing that you can do with your time and it's so enjoyable. Everyone should do it, I think.

Overcoming challenges

To many outsiders, Lillia’s life may seem like a dream. Of course, just like everyone else chasing their dreams, she faces her own challenges too. Her passion for performing first started with dancing and singing classes, as a lot of her family members were dancers. Over time, however, she found she needed to build a range of skills to succeed in the industry, and that’s when she picked up acting. “I think it all just took off from there,” she says, “because acting is what I was best at.

From that moment, she knew she wanted to be an actress, but it wasn’t an easy path. While she was able to pick up photoshoots and advertisements in her early days, she had to go through lots of auditions and years of trying before she was cast on EastEnders. To keep herself motivated and resilient, Lillia says she had to accept that not every role would be for her, but that she’d eventually get a role if she kept trying.

Now, Lillia says there’s no ‘hardest part’ to acting — “just because I enjoy it so much.” That said, while she’s worked through most of the nerves she experienced as a beginner actress on set, she does still feel anxious when she has a particularly difficult scene she needs to do justice to.

Her solution? Breathing exercises. “Breathing is such a good tool for acting and for composure,” she says, adding, “Even in a scene, because you don’t want to talk so fast and so quick that you run out of breath. It also helps to calm you down and just makes the scene feel so much more natural.

Lillia’s expert advice

Lillia joins a vast online community of classmates at King’s InterHigh, each with their own dreams and goals. Many of her fellow students here are also actors — like Maddie Evans of House of the Dragon, Bastian Fuentes of Jurassic World: Dominion, and Cole Fuentes of Batgirl.

As an award winner herself, what advice would she give to other budding actors and actresses out there? “You have to be relentless to do the job,” she states, and her mantra can serve as inspiration for anyone chasing a big dream.

You can't let it knock you down and then you don't do it anymore… If you work hard enough, you will get it. 

Looking for a way to balance your child’s education with their dreams, passions, or interests?

Book a one-to-one discovery call with us to find out how King’s InterHigh can support your family.

By King's InterHigh

King’s InterHigh is an independent British international online school. Offering Primary, Secondary and Sixth Form education, we cater to students from age 7 – 18 who are looking for a high quality British education delivered in a way that revolves around their lifestyle.

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