An Essex teenager has become the toast of this year's Cannes Film Festival after her “astonishing” performance in the film Fish Tank.
The 17 year old, who missed the premiere because she has just given birth, is tipped as the ‘next big thing' and has even been signed by one of Hollywood's biggest agents.
Katie Jarvis was spotted by the film's talent scout, on the prowl to find a non-professional actor in shopping centres, youth clubs and other public spaces in Essex.
The scout clearly struck gold when she came across Jarvis engaged in a vociferous argument with her boyfriend at a train station in her home town of Tilbury, Essex, and recognised a certain spirit in the teenager.
I wanted someone who would give me trouble for real
“I wanted someone who would give me trouble for real,” says the film’s director Andrea Arnold. “I wanted a girl who would not have to act just be herself.”
After some convincing, Jarvis agreed to do the film and spent six weeks playing Mia Mae, a 15 year old living on an Essex housing estate whose life is turned upside down by her mum's new boyfriend.
Fish Tank had its Cannes premiere last Thursday, but Jarvis could not attend as she was at home looking after her new-born baby girl. When most teenage mums struggle to find a career after giving birth, it seems there is a bright future ahead for this talented girl, as critics across the world are hailing her “the hottest new star in Cannes”. Her ability is respected so much there is even talk she will win best actress in Sunday's end-of-festival awards.
Jarvis has already impressed UK agent Sue Latimer of ARG, who has snapped her up. American talent agent Billy Lazarus flew to the UK to meet the teenager, and has since signed her to look after her transatlantic career. Both agents will co-represent her.
For now though, Jarvis seems committed to another important role. The responsibility of her new found parenthood.