THREE years ago, Mollie Gallagher was a drama student who got work as a seat filler at the National Television Awards bash.
The job meant viewers did not see empty spaces on screen when TV royalty guests stepped out to refresh themselves.
23-year-old Mollie Gallagher has been nominated for a Serial Drama – Performance award for her role as Nina in CorrieCredit: The Sun
Mollie began her career filling seats at the National Television Awards while she was a drama studentCredit: The Sun
Mollie’s moving performance as grieving Nina has seen her make the shortlist, up against stars such as Danny DyerCredit: ITV
But next month the 23-year-old will be a guest at the ceremony alongside her Coronation Street co-stars after being nominated for a Serial Drama Performance award for her role as goth Nina Lucas.
Mollie says: “If someone had said to me back then that I’d be nominated myself, I wouldn’t have believed them.
“In 2018 I went to watch the NTAs as an audience seat filler when I was at drama school. I was really nervous, but I thought it was so exciting to see all the stars.
“As a seat filler you’re part of the audience. When the TV cameras are panning around, they never want to show empty seats.
“So if an actor or a producer nips to the loo during the awards you sit in their seat.
“When they come back you get up, so you end up sitting in four or five seats.”
Mollie, who was studying at London’s Academy of Live and Recorded Arts at the time, adds: “I was a massive Corrie fan and I was desperate to sit with the Corrie cast. But I was at the opposite side of the room.
“It was the year Lucy Fallon, who played Bethany Platt, won the Best Serial Performance award, and I got really emotional.
“When I got nominated this year I was laughing with my friends about how crazy it is that I’ve gone from being a seat filler watching Lucy to being nominated for the same award.”
It is Mollie’s moving performance as grieving Nina — struggling to cope with the murder of her boyfriend Seb Franklin — that has seen her make the shortlist.
She is up against EastEnders’ Danny Dyer, her co-star Sally Carman, who plays Abi Franklin, and Hollyoaks’ Billy Price.
But Mollie also believes it was meant to be.
She says: “I’ve read and researched about the law of attraction and I believe in manifesting, where you can bring things into your life through positive thinking.
“When I watched Lucy get her award, I remember thinking, ‘I wish this could be me one day’. Now I’m on the shortlist. I’m so happy, it’s a dream come true.”
With her alternative look and multiple piercings, Mollie always hoped she would find a screen role she could call her own.
So when her first audition was for the part of Nina, the long-lost niece of cafe owner Roy Cropper, the young actress was convinced fate played a big hand there, too.
Manchester-born Mollie, who was still at drama school and with no previous TV experience when she got her big break in 2019, says: “I 100 per cent believe in fate.
“For the last performance I did at drama school we had to create our own piece of work.
“Mine was autobiographical and in it I moved from London back to Manchester.
“A lot of it was about identity and goals and being yourself.
“I find it really interesting that Nina then came about.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better character. I guess I knew that being authentic would hopefully lead me to the right path.”
Nina’s style is very similar to Molly’s, with piercings and black clothesCredit: ITV
Like Nina, Mollie grew up with her own distinctive look with a septum piercing, nose piercing and seven ear piercings. She also frequently wears black. Mollie says: “I absolutely love Nina’s look.
“She’s a Victorian goth. I’m not a goth but I wear a lot of black. The clothes I like always seem to be black.
“I enjoy fashion and being creative and I love expressing myself through what I wear.
“I had my nose and ears pierced when I left school and if I don’t have earrings in I feel so empty.
“Then I had my septum pierced while I was at drama school. I’ve always been passionate about finding yourself and being yourself.
“Even at drama school I never felt any pressure to change.
“I suppose I have just been who I am and followed my intuition. It’s really important to represent alternative cultures on television. If I was watching Coronation Street growing up and I saw someone like Nina, I would have said, ‘I want to play that role’.
“It would have been nice to see people like me and people I could aspire to be like.
“It’s good for any actors out there who are more alternative.
“It shows you can still be yourself and there are roles that represent society in every way.”
Mollie grew up in a family of Coronation Street fans and they are thrilled by her job, particularly mum Deborah, a supermarket worker, who had always dreamed of performing herself.
Mollie says: “My mum has always been interested in acting and singing and would have absolutely loved the opportunity to be an actress. Even though she didn’t get the chance, she’s really pleased I’m living out her dreams. She absolutely loves that I’m doing this.
“When I was growing up, I’d give her little scenarios and she’d act them out. She’s really good.
“We’d have karaoke nights in the living room too. She’s a great singer.
“Growing up, she didn’t get the opportunity I did to be able to go on to drama school. It was different then. I feel very lucky.”
Mollie was raised close to the Coronation Street set.
Her dad, Patrick, works for Morrisons supermarket and her mum has a customer services role for Asda. With no brothers or sisters, Mollie spent a lot of time playing on her own.
She says: “I was always quite shy, so I never did any acting classes when I was younger.
“But if you have no siblings to play with, it’s just you and your toys, so my imagination was quite big.
“I’d play with dolls and cars and give them all names and their own personality and fashion sense. I would also give them different voices.
“There was always a doll called Mollie, who was basically me.
“She was the one that was going to be a big actress, so I was playing out my future.”
At secondary school she discovered drama, appearing in several school productions before moving to London at 18 to study.
She made her Corrie debut in November 2019 and her biggest storyline is as the grieving girlfriend of Seb, (Harry Visinoni), who was killed by Corey Brent (Max Evans).
Nina was also badly injured in the attack and spent time in hospital to recover.
Nina was badly injured in the attack which saw her boyfriend Seb murderedCredit: ITV
In a fresh twist to the storyline starting on Monday, she faces Corey and his friend Kelly (Millie Gibson) across the courtroom in a tense murder trial.
Over two gripping episodes, viewers will be taken back to the night of Seb’s death, and the truth about what happened is revealed in flashbacks as Nina’s memory starts to return.
Mollie says: “It’s very painful and emotional for her but she wants to remember, she wants to get justice for Seb.”
The actress, who lives in Manchester with her boyfriend, Dan Myers, who works on the Corrie crew and is a guitarist with band Inego, says she enjoys playing such a complex character.
Mollie adds: “There’s so much depth to her.
“She’s very good with her words and she’s more intelligent than me.
“She’s very fast, whereas I’ll sit there and think about what I’m going to say.
“I’m very attached to Nina. She feels part of me, like my alter ego.
“I can’t imagine not playing her, it makes me emotional thinking about it. I love the character so much and I couldn’t be any happier.”
To vote for Corrie at the NTAs, see nationaltvawards.com/vote.