Amita Karda, 45, says she is determined to live her life to the fullest after appearing on the ITV programme starring Brenda Blethyn and a host of other stars, as well as setting up her own company.
When she was a young girl in India her passions were beauty and acting but they had to take a back seat when she moved to a new life in England.
Amita trained to be a nurse in Sunderland and worked part-time in the beauty department of Debenhams.
Although she kept her interest in the beauty business – and went on a course about self-employment – her priority was to have a steady income to provide for her family.
But now, her dreams are coming true: opening her beauty salon – Amita’s Celestial Beauty – in the Dundas Indoor Market in Middlesbrough and appearing in ITV’s hit police drama Vera.
Amita said she was naturally a bit apprehensive about starting her business but felt that there was “something inside telling me to take the risk.”
“It happened all of a sudden but every morning I arrive I feel thankful.”
The salon offers treatments for brows and eyelashes, as well as body massage and waxing, and Amita is already busy recruiting a hairdresser.
She was an extra in Vera, part of a crowd watching the detective arrive at a murder scene on Holy Island off the Northumberland coast.
She was a hand model for a film shot in a Tyneside studio and played a patient as the bedside manners of Newcastle medical students were assessed in an exam.
“It’s not just about making money,” said Amita. “Life is giving me opportunities and I’m very grateful for that.”
Her arrival at the indoor market is one of a number of developments there this Autumn.
Jean’s Kitchen, its oldest business, is undergoing a major expansion.
Nicole Bean – who has run Alta Ego since 2017 – is launching a second shop.
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Baby Beautiful has opened early for its annual return in the run-up to Christmas and new trader Pick ‘n Mix Pod has proved so successful it has moved to a bigger unit.
David Harris, the Manager of Dundas Indoor Market, believes the independent local businesses who trade there represent the future direction of Middlesbrough town centre.
“It’s really sad that we’ve lost so many well-known names – like M&S and Wilko – in such a short time,” he said.
“But retail is changing and many places around the country are seeing a big growth in independents. That’s really encouraging and one of the reasons why we’re investing here in time for Christmas.”