Purley performer lands role in Mamma Mia
A young actress is fulfilling her childhood dream as she takes to the stage in the West End hit Mamma Mia this year.
Abiola Ogunbiyi, 22, from Purley, is performing the role of Ali in the popular musical.
She had to beat off stiff competition to land the role, with thousands of people applying to be on the show.
It is the first major role she has got in a West End production and it is evident the ex-Wallington School for Girls student is excited about having a year on the big stage.
She said: "It will be such a great buzz. I have wanted to do this since I was really young, or since I was doing school plays at school.
"I remember doing a workshop in the West End when I was 15 as we were doing a production of Les Miserables at school. That was incredible.
"I have always known that performing is what I want to do, especially theatre as it is live and you are interacting with a different audience each night.
"Every night of Mamma Mia so far has been amazing, there is such a great energy in doing theatre."
Miss Ogunbiyi is performing eight shows a week at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
From September onwards the show moves to the Novello Theatre.
A keen drama student at school she played major roles in productions such as Annie and Les Miserables.
Outside of school she attended the Emerald Music School, which is based at Laleham Lea Primary School, and did ballet at the Italia Conti Dancing School in Coulsdon.
She was quick to praise the impact her teachers had on her blossoming career.
She said: "My drama teacher at Wallington Girls, Mrs Barton-Jones, was always organising trips to see plays and when I told her I wanted to do this as a career she gave me some great advice.
"She came to one of my first Mamma Mia productions as well which was great and she said she was so proud and pleased that I had got to where I want to be.
"All of them were and are so good at encouraging me."