A Hackney student has made it into The National Youth Theatre (NYT) which boasts a star-studded alumni including Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Zawe Ashton and Daniel Craig.

Laila Yakubu, 15, who attends Mossbourne Community Academy, said she was "really surprised" after being accepted into the world-leading youth arts charity on her first attempt.

"I was very proud of myself for achieving it," she said.

Laila was accepted into the NYT in mid-May and said the audition process had changed this year due to the pandemic.

It would normally have involved a live audition but this year's auditions were conducted over Zoom.

NYT was set up in 1956 as the world's first youth theatre.

It helps nurture the talents of young people and gives members a chance to audition, or work behind the scenes, for its many professional-standard productions.

Laila's interest in acting started in primary school and she even landed the main role in her year two school Christmas production.

The 15-year-old says NYT will offer a safe and supportive environment for her to hone her craft and pursue a career in acting.

Her passion for drama has been fueled by her school's supportive drama department and, Laila says, she has been inspired by Hackney actresses like Precious Mustapha, who stars in Netflix's Fate: The Winx Saga, and BAFTA Rising Star Bukky Bakray, known for her debut role in the 2019 film Rocks.

Laila added: "There are lots of actors who inspire me but in particular Precious Mustapha. She came from Mossbourne as well.

"It just really shows me that someone who came from the same school as me has achieved something like this so surely I can too."

"I don’t need to come from a place where there's lots of opportunities, I need to look for them myself."

The young actress hopes her story will encourage other people from Hackney, particularly other young girls like her, to sign up and audition for NYT.

Laila told the Gazette: "I feel like representation of Muslims in the media is something that’s really inspired me, because personally, when I watch different shows I don’t really see people that look like me represented and I know that there are also other people that feel that way.

"So maybe doing something like that would help start a conversation."

Learn more about NYT at www.nyt.org.uk