Sharing her new life after leaving Emmerdale, Fiona Wade reveals to HELLO! her reasons for saying farewell to the role of Priya Sharma, a part she has played for over a decade.
"I've always been ambitious, and I like to step out of my comfort zone, even if it's terrifying. Fear is okay. It is what you do with it that counts. I believe you should look back and know you have lived your life to the full," she tells us in her first interview and photoshoot since leaving the long-running ITV series.
"I think the world has opened up. It's an exciting time," she adds of her plans to take on new challenges, with a period drama just one of many options on her wish list.
Fiona and Simon Cotton met in 2017
"In the past, I would have said period drama would have been out of the question for me, because of my ethnicity," says 43-year-old Fiona, whose mother came to the UK from the Philippines in the 1970s.
"But now, I would love to do that. With everything being so diverse, it’s wonderful." Supporting her decision to leave Emmerdale is her husband, actor and writer Simon Cotton, 38, who starred in the film The Fall of the Krays as Ronnie and is currently touring in An Inspector Calls.
"Simon is a fantastic person to have by my side," she says. They met in 2017, when Simon had a part in an Emmerdale storyline, and they married two years later. "I'm sure I drive him crazy, but he is so good at talking me through things," she says.
The actress looks summery in her yellow patterned dress
"I respect his opinion – on everything. He didn't falter once in supporting my decision to leave Emmerdale. If I was ever having a wobble, he was always there, reminding me that it was right for me."
As she looks forward to her next big role, she hopes people have enjoyed watching Priya. "She has had some feisty storylines and has been a fantastic character to play. I was very sad filming the final scenes.
"It isn’t often as an actor that you’re given that amount of time to really develop a part and make it your own," Fiona says. "I will miss that, as well as the beautiful, incredible people I worked with who will always be my friends."
To read the full article, pick up the latest issue of HELLO! on sale now. Subscribe to HELLO! to get the magazine delivered free to your door every week or purchase the digital edition online via our Apple or Google apps.