WHEN the faces of reality TV hopefuls trickle with tears while declaring “I want it so bad,” you really want them to read about Emma Williams.

The Bradford-born actress, set to star in the stage musical an Officer and a Gentleman in Glasgow, outlines that success in the business isn’t just about ‘wanting it.’

It’s about doing whatever it takes to survive while waiting for the breaks to come along.

And then assume your last job is your last.

“I always think each job could be my last job,” says Emma.

“You have to make the most of every opportunity. And you have to accept the temporaryness of the life as an actor otherwise it will eat you alive.

“Yet, at the same time you have to make the most of it. Otherwise you’d be a bundle of nerves.”

Emma Williams is a West End star. She has been Olivier nominated three times for Zorro (2008) for her portrayal of leukaemia victim Jenny Cavilleri in Love Story (2010) and for Maureen in Mrs Henderson Presents, another film to stage musical adaptation. (2016).

But the accolades which have come her way have been tempered by cold reality.

“I’ve had nine years-worth of West End contracts,” she reveals, “but I’ve only worked for four years in total. The shortest job lasted just four weeks.

“This is the danger of working in new musicals. They are not always a success.”

Mrs Henderson was a case in point. A clever, funny poignant remake of the film, it didn’t achieve a long West End run, although it was transferred to Toronto.

“I was so proud of that show. I didn’t get to go to Canada with it because I was already signed up to do Half A Sixpence.

“It was really hard to see the production go on elsewhere and not be part of it. It’s a lot of work to hand over when you’ve done so much on it.”

Emma adds; “But this is a lifestyle we choose. I’ve been doing this for 17 years now, and sometimes shows land and everything’s good and sometimes they don’t.

“Sometimes a show can be great and you just don’t get the right audience. There’s no telling, really.”

Emma once described herself as “an Olivier-nominated temp.” When acting work dries, she takes to the office.

“I’ve always temped, in between every job. I’ve worked as a temp for Cameron Mackintosh, except last year when I took time off to spend with my husband. (He’s also from Bradford, “Fifteen minutes around the corner” yet they met while working on stage musical White Christmas four years ago.)

“I’ve never finished a theatre job and not had a job to go to the next Monday – whether a temp job, a bar job or a waitressing job. I was brought up to understand the value of money and to have to work, and I always like to pay my own way.”

Clearly, the work ethic has played a part in Emma Williams’ success, but she can also claim an immense talent, and a voice that can raise hairs on the back of the neck.

Glasgow audiences will hear it for themselves when she stars Paula Pokrifki in An Officer and a Gentleman as the factory girl who falls for trainee US Navy Pilot Zack Mayo.

Does it transfer easily from film to stage play?

“You know, I think it does, the adaptations made have stayed true to the film, but music (Eighties classics such as Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Family Man) is cleverly woven in. You don’t feel you’re stepping out and doing a song, it all feels like extensions of the dialogue.

“It’s a really rocking night, but it also has the grit of the original film.”

Could it be seen as dated in terms of the feminist narrative considering the original story features a factory girl who dreams of marrying a pilot.

“What we’ve down with the show is give Paula better intentions. In the film she’s maybe a little two dimension, which you don’t see because she is played by the wonderful Debra Winger.

“But we reveal she is actually training to become a nurse. And when she says at the beginning ‘I don’t want to marry a man’ now she genuinely means it. She wants to be a person in her own right.

“She doesn’t have that sense of prescribed life that’s been given to women in small town America.

“We’ve also expanded upon the women’s story in general. What we see in the factory now is the women fighting against the patriarchal nature of society, as opposed to accepting it.”

Emma adds; “Audiences will remember the iconic moment at the end when Zach comes in and sweeps Paula off her feet.

“What they don’t remember is that for two hours and twenty minutes he’s being encouraged to become a better man by his friends and the woman he falls in love.

“So what we are really left thinking is ‘Who is rescuing who?’”

Despite being a West End success, Emma didn’t out to become an actress.

“My dad is an engineer, my mum a teacher. When you come from a working class family you don’t think of drama school.

“I sort of fell into acting, very gratefully. As a teenager I was going to stage school evening classes in Bradford, and the principal saw potential in me and sent me along for an audition.

“I landed Heartbeat when I was fourteen. But at 17 I was all set to become a linguist. I was on a gap year because my parents couldn’t afford to send me and my brother to university at the same time when I landed a movie.

“And it all fell into place from there on in.

Emma took an Open University degree aged 24, and now is taking a writing course.

“I needed to continue you to learn,” she says. “But at the same time I’ve always had daydreams.”

She breaks into a wide grin. “I guess my daydreams seem to have come true. But I never take it for granted. Not for a second.”

*An Officer and a Gentleman, the King’s Theatre, September 10-15.