Actress Danielle Harold was a teenager when she joined the cast of EastEnders and admits she’s fully aware of the difficulties of navigating life outside of soapland.

The 31-year-old Londoner said her final on-screen goodbye to her character Lola Pierce, who died from a devastating brain tumour, in scenes that aired in May.

Speaking exclusively to OK!, Danielle says she’s finally ready to close her Lola “chapter” and has her ambitions set on big roles, similar to the likes of former Coronation Street stars Michelle Keegan and Suranne Jones.

“Everybody worries about being typecast,” she told us. “There was a stigma that it was hard to come out of a soap and get other jobs, but I think that’s changed."

She continued, “I see soap actors in all different roles now, and when I watch them, I just see them as a new actor and not as a soap actor – so I’m excited for all that.”

Danielle grew up on the set of EastEnders and it was her first professional acting role. She didn’t go to stage school but just watched and learned from those around her on the Albert Square set.

In her first year on screen she was crowned Best Newcomer at the TV Times Awards and following Lola’s devastating death scenes, took home the Leading Performer gong at the British Soap Awards, and Soap Actor at the TRIC Awards this summer.

She's also recently been nominated for the coveted Serial Drama Performance at this year's National Television Awards, which would complete an impressive hat trick if she wins.

Danielle says she hopes the recognition will help take her career onwards and upwards.

“I’d love to work with someone like Margot Robbie, I think she’s great, or any of the Harry Potter actors like Daniel Radcliffe, but I’m also totally into gritty crime dramas,” she laughs.

She continues, “I’d love a series where you know the start, middle and end, because in a soap you don’t find out your story until the last minute. It’s just a machine, it’s just constant. So it would be lovely to know what’s happening for a change.”

One star she’s looking up to is Michelle Keegan, who played Coronation Street’s Tina McIntyre for seven years before moving on to lead roles in three series of Our Girl on the BBC, and Sky’s Brassic.

Now that Danielle has time to emotionally recover from filming Lola’s death storyline she says she’s excited but daunted about what’s to come but hopes to follow in Michelle’s footsteps.

“When you’re working so hard, time just seems to fly by and stand still at the same time, you’re in a bubble,” she tells us. “It’s daunting, but exciting too.

“It was such a draining and emotional story and I was so physically and mentally exhausted by the end, so when it stopped it was a bit of a shock to the system.

“The Lola chapter is fully closed for her, but also for me, and that’s given me a different drive. I’m really, really excited for my new chapter.”

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