Michelle Gayle pictured in 1994

Soap fans will recognise EastEnders star Michelle Gayle, 47, from her early days – but acting isn’t her only talent…

Soap star

In 1988, Michelle was propelled into the spotlight as one half 
of rap group Fresh ‘n’ Fly on Grange Hill, before landing 
the part of Hattie Tavernier in EastEnders. Michelle was an Albert Square regular until 1993 when she left to pursue 
her first passion – music.

Michelle Gayle as she looks today

Michelle as she looks today

R&B career

Thanks to hits including Sweetness and Looking Up Michelle secured herself 
two top-40 UK solo albums and three BRIT Award nominations. She also featured on the 1995 charity single The Gift of Christmas, alongside acts Peter Andre and Boyzone.

Reality TV

Never afraid to try her hand at something new, Michelle has been involved in lots of reality shows. In 2003 she joined Reborn in the USA, where former pop stars attempted to reboot their careers in America. She also participated in the 2006 series of C4 show The Games and Strictly’s 2009 spin-off series Dancing on Wheels.

Personal life

Michelle was married to former footballer Mark Bright for 10 years from 1997. The couple have a son, Isaiah, 
but they split in 2007 and divorced a year later. She 
gave birth to her second son, Luke, six, in 2011.

Pen to paper

Adding another string to her bow, Michelle released her 
first novel Pride & Premiership in 2011, based on the story of 
two wannabe WAGs.

Screen and stage success

After playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast in London’s West End, the actress starred in CBBC’s hit fantasy drama Wolfblood as Imara in 2016. But she’s not stopping there, as she’s joined the cast of touring stage show Son of 
a Preacher Man, which features the songs of Dusty Springfield.

“As I got older I heard more of her songs and you think, ‘wow, what a woman, what a voice,” Michelle said recently of Dusty.

Main pic: Paul Massey/REX/Shutterstock. Present day Michelle: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock