Emmerdale actress Shila Iqbal says she shouldn’t have been fired over historical racist and homophobic tweets she posted – but suspended instead.
The 24-year-old, who played Aiesha Richards, was sacked earlier this month.
At the time she apologised for using “inappropriate language” in tweets she’d sent in 2013, when she was 19.
But she’s told ITV’s This Morning that she shouldn’t be judged on something she did as a teenager.
Shila said she was “shocked” to see the tweets after Emmerdale producers confronted her with them.
She’d only been a series regular since March.
“I didn’t think that was me because I don’t use those words anymore.”
Shila said there was “no malicious intent behind the tweets” and that it was “banter” between friends.
“It was influenced by the hip-hop music we were listening to.
“It did determine the language we used.
“I didn’t understand the true meanings behind them, the implications and the hurt those words could cause.
She told This Morning that people shouldn’t be judged on what they’d posted on social media as teenagers, “if the person has changed and shown remorse and your attitudes have changed”.
The actress, who also starred in the 2018 film Eaten by Lions, said being sacked from Emmerdale was “a blow”.
“I was at such a high point in my life when it all came crashing down, but I will move on from this.
“I’m a professional and I didn’t have the responsibility I do. I do own up to the fact that I used inappropriate language and I don’t speak like that anymore.”
‘I was remorseful’
In a separate interview with The Sun, Shila said Emmerdale bosses were making “an example” of her.
“From the get-go I was angry and disappointed in myself.
“I was remorseful, and I think that should have been taken into account with my young age and the fact that I wasn’t a professional actor at that age.”
A spokeswoman for Emmerdale said: “We offered Shila Iqbal support when this situation happened.
“We asked her if there was anyone we could contact who could come in and support her, a relative or friend.
“We also said she could call any of us at any time. She repeatedly said she was fine and didn’t want any help.
“We also immediately contacted her agent, who offered her advice and support.”