Former EastEnders star Katie Jarvis has said she thinks the door has been “left open” for her to return to the soap, but that she is “proud” to be currently working as a security guard.

The actress, who played Hayley Slater in the BBC One soap for a year until February, is employed by variety retailer B&M in Romford, Essex, and the news of her job recently made the Sunday front pages.

Jarvis, 28, told Grazia magazine that she felt “hurt, embarrassed, and made to feel ashamed for having a ‘normal’ job” over the newspaper reports.

She said that she may return to the BBC One soap in the future and will continue to look for acting jobs, but that her job should not matter, regardless of what it is.

Jarvis, who is a mother to Lillie-Mae, 10, and Alfie, eight, said: “It’s the nature of being an actress; gigs come and go, and after my contract with EastEnders ended in February, I found a new job as soon as I could.

“Doing work like this is also what keeps me grounded. Growing up, my mum struggled a lot with four kids, so this is what reminds me of where I’ve come from, and that sometimes it’s hard, but you’ve got to work for your money.”

She added: “Of course, I’ll be pursuing my acting career for the rest of my life – as far as I’m aware, the door’s been left open with EastEnders, and it would be amazing to go back one day – but for now, I’m not just happy to work at B&M, I’m proud.

“Whether I make it big as an actor or not, I should never have been made to feel the way I did that last week.

“Whether we’re stacking shelves, picking up rubbish or cleaning the toilets, who cares? We’re all just normal people trying to earn an honest living and provide for our families.

“No-one should ever be made to feel ashamed for that.”

Jarvis said she misses her co-stars and that Jessie Wallace, who plays her cousin Kat Slater, “has been texting me to check I’m OK”.

She added that after her EastEnders contract ended, she “needed to get some breathing space and focus on Alfie and Lillie”, having been involved with several difficult storylines, including self-harm, alcoholism and fractured family relationships.

“So, when my contract ended, I moved, got the job at B&M and gave my family a fresh start.”

Jarvis previously told BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire that she was “overwhelmed” at the support of other actors when her job was revealed.

EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite and comic and actress Kathy Burke were among those defending Jarvis on social media, as well as former soap stars Bronagh Waugh and Charlie Condou.

In addition to her role on EastEnders, Jarvis is also known for starring in the Bafta-winning film Fish Tank in 2009 opposite Michael Fassbender, a role which saw her win a British Independent Film Award for best newcomer.

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