I'M 11 years old and this was really my first film and the reason I started in the business. The photograph was taken on set in Denmark where Walt Disney has come along and has put his arms around me in a very grandfatherly and sweet way.

It was a film called Ballerina, with a story set within the Royal Danish Ballet. But because it was to be shown in America they thought they'd pick someone who spoke English and therefore sounded a little bit foreign. So Disney sent people to England to see if there was anyone of the right age at any of the ballet schools.

Five girls were chosen from our school, including me, and I promptly wrote to my parents in Cyprus, telling them I was going up for a pantomime and we were going to be cast as the Great Danes. I'd completely got hold of the wrong end of the stick. They then had a telegram from my headmistress saying: 'Jenny screen-testing, don't worry, not Nordic type.'

So off I flew to Berlin, where they did the screen test, and I really liked that. Getting away from school was terrific. But one of the other girls had an agent and through her I was introduced to some people making another film, East of Sudan, which was going on in three or four weeks' time, but they hadn't cast the young girl in it.

The main requirement was that she should look very young and be light, because she had to be carried around a lot. She was supposed to be an Arab, and if I wasn't the Nordic type I certainly didn't look Arab either, but the producers literally picked me up and thought I was kind of cute and I was cast. Then I heard I'd got the other part too, in Ballerina.

So there it was. I was 11 years old and I'd shot to what I thought was immediate stardom. And it was terrific - I actually got to dance on stage and dance Les Sylphides.

I felt like a star, but it was very quickly driven out of me. I remember overhearing one girl on set saying to another, 'Why are they always brushing her hair and doing her make-up?', and I thought, 'It's because I'm a star]' And the other girl said, 'Because she's so messy.'

My family life was very ordinary as well. We got on with other things, nothing special was made of it by anybody. I'm very glad - I think that's one thing that can go very badly wrong, because with a lot of children who go into films it's their parents who think it's glamorous and children catch on to it. In fact, my father ran the entertainment for the Forces, which meant it held no glamour for either of my parents.

I remember Denmark very clearly and the Danish Ballet and the music and the smell of the place and the theatre we were in and it's very much a part of me. In many ways, the things that excited me as a child are still there on a film set and it created in me an appetite for the acting world.

But what's interesting about that time was that it was set amid both the extraordinary and the ordinary. My life went between limousines and Tubes, between meeting Walt Disney and meeting ordinary people, and no difference was made between the two. It made both exciting. Life was much richer for having them both.

(Photograph omitted)

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