Interview: Star Of India - Laila Rouass; Dawn Collinson meets the sultry new face on hit soap Hollyoaks.
Byline: Dawn Collinson
-LIST gossip has linked her with everyone from singer Shaggy to Hollywood heartthrobs Wesley Snipes and Heath Ledger. But rumours of Laila Rouass' celebrity love life are, she happily confirms, greatly exaggerated.
The former MTV MTV
in full Music Television
U.S. cable television network, established in 1980 to present videos of musicians and singers performing new rock music. MTV won a wide following among rock-music fans worldwide and greatly affected the popular-music business. presenter, Hollyoaks' latest beautiful recruit, laughs off questions of a romance with any of them and reveals that she's not only single - she's on the look out for a Scouse scouse
1. A lobscouse.
a. often Scous·er A native or resident of Liverpool, England.
b. often Scouse The dialect of English spoken in Liverpool. boyfriend! Laila made most of her star connections while working for MTV in Asia, based in Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov. and India. After being spotted by channel bosses in a nightclub, she landed a job presenting music and fashion shows and interviewing big names.
``Of course you do get chatted up and there was a kind of flirting going on but you've got to have that, it's part of the job, to get the best out of people,'' she explains. ``I was doing two-hour interviews and you've got to fill them up with something but there was never any romance.
``With Shaggy, he was touring quite a bit in Asia so we got to meet up a few times and got on really well. I interviewed him and he remembered me. He didn't know anyone else out there so he wanted someone to take him out. That's all it was, though. He's a wicked bloke but nothing happened between us. ``The Wesley Snipes thing came about when I was working in Dubai. They have this big shopping festival every year and they bring in a big Hollywood star The Hollywood Star was an idiosyncratic gossip tabloid published on an erratic schedule in Hollywood, California by William Kern, who wrote much of the magazine under the pseudonym "Bill Dakota. as a guest. This one year it was Wesley, I was hosting a live show there and we just hung out. Again, nothing more happened, but don't get me wrong, he was just sex on legs! ``Shaggy's gorgeous but Wesley's more `wow', more breathtaking.'' As one of the best known faces on MTV Asia, Laila had a massive fan base which even the UK's best known presenters would envy.
She was constantly recognised in the street, everywhere from Russia to Kazakhstan, and watched by tens of millions in 72 countries. But, she reveals, her big break actually came about by sheer luck.
After dropping out of the famous Lee Strasbourg drama school in London, which she says didn't suit her, Laila - who is half Goan Portuguese Goan Portuguese is the dialect of Portuguese spoken in Goa, India.
• • [ , half Moroccan - got herself an agent and headed to Asia for a film role. It was there she was approached by MTV who were looking for presenters and VJs. ``The whole music TV thing was all quite new there then, it was at a time when a lot of ideas were coming from the West, so they wanted English speakers because it was going to go right across Asia,'' she explains. ``I'd done a bit of modelling before and acting, but I'd never intended to be a presenter. It all just fell into place.''
Laila stayed in Asia for more than five years, but decided to come home a year ago to restart her career here. ``I did love it but there are cultural differences which are really difficult to deal with and I had my friends and family here so I wanted to leave while I was still enjoying it. I wanted to keep it as a good memory.'' Back in Britain, Laila admits that going from being a famous face and name to relatively unknown was quite frightening, but a challenge she looked forward to. Roles in the film The Four Feathers, alongside Aussie star Heath Ledger, and in Channel 5 soap Family Affairs Family Affairs is a British soap opera. The flagship soap on five, it was the first programme to air on the channel on March 30, 1997, the channel's launch night. The serial was broadcast in half-hour episodes, screening each weeknight. followed - then Laila got her casting for Hollyoaks. She was excited by the opportunity, she says, but got a jokey jok·ey also jok·y
adj. jok·i·er, jok·i·est
Characterized by joking or jokes, especially stale or clumsy jokes: jokey bumper stickers. word of warning from her sister. ``I liked the show because it's unashamedly un·a·shamed
Feeling or showing no remorse, shame, or embarrassment:
una·sham glamorous, it's fun and well written, so I thought it would be interesting to go for,'' she says. ``But when I told my sister she said `you'll never get it - you're not blonde enough!''' Undeterred, Laila went for the part of the sexy, feisty police detective inspector Dale Jackson and won it. She has now been filming in Liverpool since the beginning of December and clearly enjoys everything about her new job. At 27, she jokes that she's one of the older members of the cast and her dark sultry looks do make her stand out among the soap's blonde babes. But she loves Dale's no-nonsense attitude and her new work mates. ``Before I started I thought, they're all really young and gorgeous, they'll be really competitive but it's the complete opposite,'' she says. ``A lot of the cast are only 19 or 20 but they've got their heads screwed on and they take it very seriously, they're very professional.''
Off screen, Laila hasn't found herself a permanent man yet, but she smiles and says she'll be looking. ``I've not had much chance yet, I haven't even been out clubbing in Liverpool because I've been living in a hotel and I've got to settle in. But I've found a flat now that I'm moving into this week and friends keep telling me I've got to find a nice Scouser, so who knows?'' n Laila appears in Hollyoaks from Monday, February 3.