And now, aged just 24, former Hollyoaks actress Hollie-Jay Bowes will become the youngest cast member of The Vagina Monologues tour, heading to Preston’s Charter Theatre on October 3.
Hollie-Jay, originally from Oldham, is in the first throws of rehearsals. She says: “It’s going good. There’s a lot to learn, but I’m sure it’ll all work itself out – I’m excited.”
“The script can be quite challenging, but that’s the beauty of the show I think.
“To get three women talking to other women about their lady parts will make people gasp; which is the point of the show really.”
Hollie-Jay will join fellow Hollyoaks alumnus, Terri Dwyer, and Doctors star Diane Keen, who is returning to the stage following a 10-year hiatus.
“Terri and I never actually worked together on Hollyoaks, but it’s nice that we have that in common,” says Hollie-Jay, “but she did play my teacher in Grange Hill when I was 15, which is quite funny.”
For those unfamiliar with the show, Hollie-Jay describes The Vagina Monologues as “a very frank, honest, show”.
She says: “It’s almost like having a conversation with your girlfriends on a night out minus the vino – for us anyway.
She continues: “It’s been an eye-opener for me.
“I’ve seen it around and advertised for years and mentioned on numerous American TV shows – it was mentioned on Family Guy the other night, and it made me howl laughing to think what I was doing was mentioned on there.”
Hollie-Jay will spend 10 weeks on the road as the cast tour up and down the country, but it’s not her home comforts she’s going to miss.
“I’m excited to be travelling around the country, but the only thing I’m going to struggle with is not having my dog with me because he’s my best friend,” she laughs. “He’s staying with a friend, but I can’t help thinking he’s going to forget me, or get so stressed without me he dies of heartbreak.
“I’ve got all these scenarios in my head so I’m going to Skype him every couple of days – it’s ridiculous really. “
Eve Ensler´s smash-hit and controversial three-hander play, that provides audiences with a funny and poignant exploration of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, is well-known for it’s off-the-cuff and intimate discussion.
And it was while learning lines for her monologues in the play that Hollie-Jay realised how intimate the show really is.
“My mum is really excited about me doing this, but she’s been getting really embarrassed when I’ve been learning my lines at home,” she says.
“It’s so funny, when my mum is going through my lines with me she’ll just mouth the word rather than say it out loud.”
“I come from such an open family, I have two brothers who are hilariously supportive about things they haven’t really got a clue about, like periods.
“But because they’ve grown up in such a feminine environment it’s a very open house, so to hear my mum tell me to be quiet about things is really surprising.
“That said, I don’t think my brothers will be coming to watch the show.”
As the youngest member of the cast, Hollie-Jay admitted she is finding relating to some of her characters (she has four – each with different accents) a little bit of a stretch.
“I’m reading monologues about marriage and in my head I’m thinking how am I supposed to relate to this, so I’ve had to think of situations with long-term boyfriends or something like that.
“Mentally I still think I’m 19, when I’m actually coming up to turning 25 in January so I need to start thinking about growing up a little bit.”
But for now, before she heads out on the road, the dilemma of what to pack is forefront in Hollie-Jay’s mind.
“I have no idea what I’m going to pack, we have to wear all black on stage, and my wardrobe is so colourful so I think a shopping trip is on the cards.”
The 10-week tour will mean Christmas will almost be upon her by the time she finishes, so Hollie-Jay is planning a little bit of R&R on her return, before throwing herself back into work in the New Year.
“This is my life for 10 weeks, and then after that I’ll be twiddling my thumbs.
“But I am thinking of spending some time in Thailand over Christmas, which will be nice.”