Parents sell house to fund Mamma Mia! actress

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By Rebecca Jamieson

SCOTTISH Mamma Mia! actress Ashley Lilley has told how her parents had to sell their house to pay for her education at a London drama school.

But her expensive training at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts – which charges £4590 a term – was worth it as she went on to bag a role in global hit Mamma Mia! one of last year’s most popular movies.

She played Sophie’s friend Ali in the film, and sang Honey, Honey with Amanda Seyfried and Rachel McDowell, as well as appearing in scenes alongside Oscar winner Meryl Streep.

But Lilley said it took seven years and cost £40,000 to get her big break.

The 23-year-old actress grew up in a big family home on the west coast Scottish Island of Bute, which her family shared with her grandparents, auntie, uncle and cousins.

But she left Rothesay at the age of 15 to move to London and study drama, and eventually her parents had to sell the house to pay for her and her sister Erica’s schooling.

She said: “My parents sold the house to fund our education.

“It was an incredible thing to do but we all look back and think how wonderful it would be still to be there.

Her mother Caroline Lilley said she always knew Ashley would make it.

She added: “We wouldn’t have spent all that money if we had any doubts. We’re just so proud of her. She’ll buy us another house.”

Lilley currently lives in London, but says her dream is to own the family home again some day in the future when she has made her fortune.

The actress said: “When I first moved to London I wasn’t at all homesick; I just wanted to be in the big city.

“In the past six months, I’ve found myself pining for all that countryside and space.”

“If I ever have the money I might make the owners an offer.”

Lilley now has a US acting agent and is toying with the idea of moving overseas – although it seems her heart will always belong to Bute.

She said: “It’s just so far away from the madness of London.

“You get the train to Wemyss Bay then get a boat across to the gorgeous island.

“It’s just such a nice feeling getting there.”

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