How did you first become involved with the Mercury Theatre?
I grew up in Colchester and first became involved with the Mercury through their youth theatres. With friends I met there I set up a theatre company of young people under 25, and the theatre supported me to produce three plays in their studio when I was 15, 16 and 18. After that I was an apprentice with the theatre before I went away to drama school, so it's so lovely to be back and performing in Roots as a member of the company.

What has been your family and friends' reactions to your choice of career?
My mum is an actress, so she has always been very supportive and understanding of both how incredible and how heartbreaking it can be! I am also lucky to have amazing friends who are really supportive.

What professional training have you received, and where?
I was at RADA for three years.

How do you relate to your character (Beatie) in Roots?
Beatie is such an amazing person to play. Roots is all about her finding her own voice and her self-confidence. It is also about her step from adolescence to being an adult and taking responsibility for the world around her. For me it really captures so many of the discoveries and difficulties of that transition into being an adult.

In a more global sense so many of the questions Arnold Wesker asks us through Beatie in this play are ones I ask myself; for example, do I do enough to really stop political and government changes I disagree with? It's a play that asks some really important, and not always comfortable, questions.

How do you face the prospect of this national tour, visiting such diverse towns and theatres?
It's so exciting to get to play in new theatres, and to share the work with different audiences too.

How do you see your career progressing after Roots?
I want to do work that both inspires and frightens me a little bit, and to keep learning from other actors.

What are your long-term aims and ambitions?
I have really diverse tastes in what I like. I have a huge passion for Shakespeare, but have also really loved working on some very modern realist plays. I'd love to do a bit of everything really, I find that one of the most exciting things about this career.

Andrew Breakwell's new production of  Roots previews at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester on 13 and 14 April, then runs between 16-26 April before touring to Hull, Stoke on Trent, Oxford and Nottingham.