AN aspiring actor from Oldham has launched a GoFundMe page to try to raise £15,000 so she can realise her dream of becoming professional on stage and screen - and former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh, alias Hayley Cropper, has already chipped in £100.

Twenty-year-old Rhia Burston left college two years ago was accepted on a course at Year Out Drama in Stratford Upon Avon in the heart of William Shakespeare country.

But because the college is a not-for-profit organisation, she does not qualify for a student loan or any help towards expenses.

Rhia said: "I have been inspired by the few working class actors, local actors, who have made successful careers for themselves.

"If there is one thing everyone has told me along the way is that it is very hard and not a lot of people do it.

"But what no one told me, was that if you're from a working class or low-income background then it would be made even harder - if not impossible."

Tuition fees for the 10-month course are £7,500 and she estimates her living costs will be about the same amount again.

Rhia went on: " There is no financial support available. Not a student loan, government bursary - nothing.

"I've always had the mindset, and have been brought up, that if you want something then you work hard and do it yourself."

She said she had continde to pursue acting alongside a 40-hour managerial job for cosmetics firm Lush.

Rhia said: "I have been auditioning for drama school training for the past three years, so when this opportunity came up after another year of rejection, it has made me realise that this could be my only chance at training to allow me to have a successful career.

"But this isn't something I can afford on my own and my family definitely don't have that kind of money lying around.

"I've worked hard for the past few years and put so much effort into pursuing acting that I'm not going to let this get in my way.

"So I set up a GoFundMe page and I have the goal of raising my tuition fees through the generosity and kindness of those who are able to donate. "

The page can be found online at: Rhia said she had spent about £4,500 of her own money paying for drama school auditions, travel and hotels and for classes to gain experience.

She added: "There should be more support for working class actors. If I hadn't had a full-time job, I definitely would not be able to afford to have reached this far.

"But I was amazed when Julie Hesmondhalgh gave £100. I know she is a big supporter of theatre and is seen regularly in the audience the Oldham Coliseum Theatre."