IF a young actor is looking for a role to get her teeth into, they don't come much better than River City's Stella Walker.

Storylines have seen her spend her childhood in care, been homeless, struggle with alcoholism, have a miscarriage and now face cancer.

It's a lot for anyone to take on board but for Keira Lucchesi it is a dream role.

The 25-year-old, who grew up in Hillington and trained at Pace Youth Theatre in Paisley, has been a rising star of the BBC Scotland soap for the past five years. Stella never fails to face new challenges and that's just the way Keira likes it.

"I really enjoy doing stuff like this," she says. "A lot of people take that home with them but I'm not the kind of actor who does that. I go in and do it and come home and forget about it.

"It was a bit harder with these scenes because my boyfriend (David Hayman Jr) was directing the episode so we were going home together and talking about it."

On Tuesday in River City, Stella's worst fears are realised when test results confirm she has an increased chance of getting cancer.

Dr Dan delivers life-changing news to Stella: the results of her genetic test confirm she has an 85% chance of getting ovarian cancer. Overwhelmed by the results, she is at a loss what to do and drowns her sorrows in a bottle of vodka.

"She's not very good, to be honest. In her relationship with Stevie she was always the strong one and stood by him so she can't really cope with this at all," says Keira.

"It's a massive shock. She keeps it from him. I think it's like that for a lot of women, they always try and shut up about things and just get on with it.

"On the surface you probably look at Stella and think, 'She's a really strong person because she doesn't talk about stuff, she just gets on with it'. But really she's not. You're stronger if you do talk."

Stella finds an unlikely shoulder to cry on in Scarlett, played by Sally Howitt, who offers recovering alcoholic Stella a drink.

The two women have a long history but all that is forgotten the moment Stella talks about cancer.

"I've been in the show for five years now, when Stella came in she was an alcoholic but has never had a relapse," says Keira. "I think she has thought about it a few times but this time she went out and got a bottle.

"Straight afterwards she doesn't care. It's only later when she stops to think, 'What was all that about?'"

Stella only realises how stupid she has been when she finally sits down to talk to Stevie, played by Paul James Corrigan, who is also one of Keira's closest friends off screen.

"Paul, David and I are all really close and a lot of people would see that as a hindrance but I think it's great," adds Keira. "We all trust each other so it's a very organic thing when we work together."

At home and at work, Keira isn't far from her boyfriend David these days. He is assistant director in the production of The Slab Boys, currently running at the Citizens Theatre, in which Keira plays Lucille.

The pair are also involved in fundraising for Daivd's father David Hayman's Spirit Aid charity.

Last year Keira raised £900 walking up Ben Nevis. "It was amazing but it was awful at the same time. My toenails have only just grown back in," she laughs.

She is also involved in an offshoot project that works in prisons, homeless units and schools.

Keira has come a long way from her first forays on stage at the age of five when her mum took her to Pace Youth Theatre to quieten her down.

"I wouldn't shut up. Usually people put their kids into youth theatre if they're quiet and don't have confidence," she says.

"I always knew I wanted to act, I never thought about doing anything else. I was quite clever at school so teachers were always trying to push me to go to university but it was never anything I wanted to do.

"At Pace I got professional experience as well, I got my first job when I was nine in a BBC education programme. So Pace acted as a casting agent as well.

"Later on I went to the Young Co at the Cititzens, which was just great because I was given the opportunity to perform in some of the spaces in there. This is the first time I've been back for the The Slab Boys."

Where does Stella's storyline go from here?

Trouble never seems far from her door but as long as Stevie is with her, things should work out, hopes Keira.

" I hope they stay together basically just for selfish reasons because I want to work with PJ every day," she adds. "They're so right together but that doesn't make for very good drama does it?"

River City, BBC Scotland, Tuesday, February 24 at 8pm.