I worked in a clothes shop for years after leaving EastEnders to make ends meet, says Rakhee Thakrar

EX-EASTENDERS star Rakhee Thakrar has revealed that she ended up working in a clothes shop for years to make ends meet after leaving the BBC One soap.

The actress, who played Shabnam Masood between 2014 to 2016, opened up about the challenges to find other acting roles after quitting the programme.

Rakhee has since laded roles in Netflix's hit show Sex Education and BBC One's drama The Girl Before – but it wasn't always plain sailing.

The TV star, who took over the role of Shabnam from actress Zahra Ahmadi, was involved with a series of hardhitting storylines, including giving birth to a stillborn son and her failed marriage to Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami).

Shabnam left Albert Square with her long-lost daughter Jade after discovering that Kush had fathered a child with feisty loudmouth Stacey Slater.

She revealed that she struggled to land new work opportunities and decided to take on retail jobs temporarily.

"I didn't think 'other projects' meant working in a boutique clothing shop for two years. I left EastEnders and didn't get any work," she told Radio Times.

"I couldn't bear not doing anything, so I worked in a couple of shops."

She added: "It was a massive risk to leave a full-time salary [on EastEnders] and it took a while for that risk to pay off."

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Viewers were recently excited when they spotted Rakhee in BBC thriller The Girl Before.

The four-part psychological thriller series told the story of Jane, who got the chance to move into a beautiful house designed by an enigmatic architect. But there's a catch – the occupants must abide by his odd list of rules.

The actress portrayed Mia in the show sending fans wild.

This is a full on Eastenders reunion," wrote on fan on Twitter.

Another asked: "How many ex Eastenders are in this?'

And a third observed: "Half the cast are from EastEnders. So far we have, Peter Beale, Dr May Wright and Shabnam Masood. I'm half expecting Dot to make an appearance."

Rakhee has also enjoyed success on Netflix's Sex Education playing Emily Sands since 2019, where she helps frustrated teens with sexual education tips.

Speaking in 2016, Rakhee revealed the reasons for her departure.

"It feels like the right time for both myself and Shabnam," she told the Daily Record.

"My experience on this show has been really special, and I'm so grateful for having the chance to have played Shabs, she's a real gift. A complicated character, who I've loved getting to know.

"Now, I feel like it’s the time to try different projects and new people to play. It was a hard decision as I really love this character and this show. I can't thank [the producers] enough for trusting me with Shabnam and particularly her story."

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