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Inside Hollyoaks star Kirsty-Leigh Porter’s life – rival soap to stillborn grief

Hollyoaks star Kirsty-Leigh Porter has had more than her fair share of ups and downs in her life, from a tragic stillbirth to a secret pregnancy.

The 32-year-old actress has portrayed Leela Lomax on the Channel 4 soap since 2013 but took a break from the show last year in order to give birth in December.

Since taking her maternity leave, Kirsty-Leigh returned briefly to Hollyoaks to resolve the show's flash-forward episode.

In pictures released by the soap earlier this month, her official comeback was confirmed as her character was photographed standing next to Sid Sumner (Billy Price) in the village.

But, what is Kirsty-Leigh's life like away from the Hollyoaks set? And, where have we seen her before?

Rival soaps

Before joining Hollyoaks as Ste Hay's half-sister Leela, Kirsty-Leigh had a few soap roles on the go.

The actress portrayed Roz Fielding in Emmerdale from 2010 to 2012, but her role on the Yorkshire-set ITV soap wasn't her soap debut.

Three years before, in 2009, Kirsty-Leigh appeared in several episodes of Coronation Street as a character named Zoe.

She has also starred in My Family, The Street, Ashes to Ashes and Shameless.

Heartbreaking stillborn loss

Kirsty-Leigh went through a traumatic ordeal in December 2018 when she gave birth to her stillborn daughter, Penny-Leigh Barber.

On Instagram, she wrote: "Our beautiful baby girl, Penny-Leigh Barber was born sleeping on the 21st of December 2018 at 6.49am, 29 weeks and three days young. My heart has never felt pain like it."

Kirsty-Leigh has been open about her grief ever since.

Reflecting on the heartbreaking loss on what would have been Penny-Leigh's first birthday, the Hollyoaks star shared: "One years old you are today.

"30 years I’ve been on this earth and you was here for the tiniest bit of it but will remain the biggest part for the rest of it."

Kirsty-Leigh also shared an emotional Mother's Day tribute to both Penny-Leigh and her mother in April 2019.

Alongside a picture of her mother and daughter, she wrote: "This is my mother looking over my baby just after she was born.

"This picture means everything to me. That's my mother, a grandmother and a mother that day. My mum has always been my hero, but that day, the earth moved like I'd never felt it before.

"I had become a mother, but my baby wasn't able to be with me.

"But I am my mother's baby, and she was almost unearthly that day, a true angel to me and my baby."

Secret pregnancy

Following the loss of her daughter Penny-Leigh, Kirsty-Leigh revealed in December last year that she had secretly given birth to her second child, Nala Rai.

Having kept her pregnancy under wraps. the actress revealed the happy news by sharing a black-and-white picture of her fiancé Paul Barber carrying the adorable tot.

She confirmed Nala's name in March and has since described her as a "rainbow baby".

On Instagram, she wrote: "So grateful for you. I'm so glad you chose me to be your mummy Nala Rai."

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