AS Britain’s new queen of the silver screen, Tess Street is very much Top Gun.
But growing up in Bournemouth she never dreamed that one day she’d be rubbing shoulders with royalty and rolling out the red carpet for Hollywood A-listers.
It’s like, well, something out of the movies.
As a 16-year-old at Bournemouth School for Girls, Tess took a holiday job at the Odeon in the town’s Westover Road.
After leaving school she studied sports science at Loughborough University, and, after graduating, went back to work at her hometown cinema to tide her over as she searched for a full-time job.
“I was asked whether I fancied staying on and training for a career in management,” she says. “And now, nearly 20 years later, I’m lucky enough to be general manager of the most prestigious cinema in the country.”
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From Bournemouth her career took her to Salisbury, Southampton, Aylesbury (her first general manager’s post), Esher, Guildford and Kingston.
Now, at just 35 years old, she is the new boss at the flagship Odeon in London’s Leicester Square, home to most major movie premieres.
“Yes, I’ll be meeting and greeting royalty, and working with some of the biggest names in showbusiness,” she says. “I’m absolutely delighted to get this job, just over the moon. I’m really proud to be given this chance.”
Tess can expect to work on a regular basis with megastars such as Daniel Craig (Bond films always open at the Odeon Leicester Square) and Tom Cruise, who is famous for spending more time than most screen legends chatting to fans behind the barriers.
Tess, who went to Moordown St John’s before BSG, says she has seen big changes during her time in the industry.
“When videos and DVDs came along, people said cinemas would struggle – but, in fact, there has been a huge revival. I think it’s because people enjoy a bit of escapism, particularly when times are tough.”
She says her favourite films are the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Moulin Rouge, starring Nicole Kidman.
Not only is Tess looking forward to her new job, she’s also planning her summer wedding.
And – showing the kind of diligence that no doubt helped her land the job – she has even put back the honeymoon for her own very special Love Story.