Laura Norton (born 19 June 1983) is an English actress from Newcastle upon Tyne best known for her role inITV's Yorkshire based soap opera, Emmerdale as Kerry Wyatt. Norton has worked extensively in Newcastle and in the North East England region. During her career, Norton has appeared in numerous television series working forITV and the BBC.
She has also significant theatre credits to her name working with The Royal Shakespeare Company and with Live Theatre Newcastle.
Norton attended Seaton Burn Community High School.
Laura Norton began her career at the Live Theatre on Newcastle'sQuayside, where she has subsequently appeared in many productions.
Norton began her acting career at the age of fourteen with a youth theatre project with Live Theatre in Newcastle. Norton auditioned for the opening play of the project called Get Out Of That Then. She continued to work with the youth theatre until she was 19. It was there that Paul James, the actor and associate director for education and participation at the Live Theatre in Newcastle, got Norton her first professional audition for a television series called Badger; Norton booked the role.
Wanting to pursue an acting career, she undertook a BTEC and HND performing arts courses at North Tyneside College.
It would be 2004, that would mark her breakout year, with small roles as Geordie Girl in 55 Degrees North and Susie inSteel River Blues. Norton also worked as an extra on Byker Grove before she was cast as Sam, a local journalist.
Roles in Angel Cake, The Royal Today and Vera followed. Norton also featured in Hoops, a short feature sitcom as part of collaboration with Newcastle-based comedy improvisational group, The Suggestibles.
On 8 October 2012 she also appeared on CBBC Television series Wolfblood as Sergeant Ashford.
In 2012, it was announced that Norton would be joining the Yorkshire based soap opera Emmerdale as Kerry Wyatt, estranged mother of Amy Wyatt (Chelsea Halfpenny). Emmerdale marks Norton's first regular Television role after booking guest roles on numerous series since 2004. She made her first appearance on 17 July 2012. Norton has described her character Kerry as "Totally out of control and can be a madwoman, especially when she's drunk.But she is also vulnerable and tries her best to get things right.Some of the scenes I've filmed are so emotional that I was genuinely in tears.The challenge will be to show the audience that there are two sides to her."
Norton has subsequently added that she feels, Kerry is vulnerable and complicated, " She's complicated, vulnerable and childlike. You come to see pretty quickly that Amy is the grown-up one and Kerry is complicated and damaged. She's just desperate for some love. She wants a relationship. She felt that she was doing everything she could to keep Amy [when she was young]. Really, she made some terrible decisions that weren't right at all."
On Wednesday 17 October 2012, Norton also took part in the live episode broadcast of Emmerdale, which marked the soap opera's 40th anniversary.
Norton has filmed a number of short films during her career. In 2004 She appeared as Charity Girl, in Paul Gilbert's, Would you like to meet. She also featured as Beatrice in Dene Film's Apple Crush. She would also appear in Aggro a short for Shakabuku Films.
Norton is scheduled to appear as Mellanie in Tested, a film by London based production company Liquid Noise Films. Currently in post-production, the film's release date is unconfirmed.
Norton returned to the Live Theatre youth project when she was 21 years old, after completing her performing arts courses at North Tyneside College. It would be with the theatre that she would earn her first major stage role. The Royal Shakespeare Company in partnership with the Live Theatre, Newcastle, collaborated on a project called Keepers of the Flame.
Norton booked a role with the production, portraying Lisa in Keepers of the Flame. Before she undertook her role in 2003, Norton discussed booking her first major professional stage role, "I cried when I was told I had got through the audition. I still can't believe it. It really is a dream come true. She's the one who brings lightness to the play. She's quite humorous, the only character who there's a bit of hope for. Am I like her at all? Well, I can be feisty sometimes!"
Building upon her first professional stage role, she booked a role in Live Theatre's production Smack Family Robinson. A tale of a family of drug dealers, Norton played the youngest daughter, Cora. Alfred Hickling of The Guardian commented on Norton's performance, "Laura Norton is quietly outstanding as the younger daughter Cora."
In 2004, she also took part in, A city on the Tyne at the Live Theatre a celebration of local writer Sid Chaplin. Norton read extracts from one of Chaplin's works, Grace Before Meat.
From 27 November to 23 December 2004 Norton appeared as Pepita, in The Weather Kitchen at the Chelsea Theatre London.
After two years away from the stage, Norton returned, booking a role as Sharon in Writing Wrong at The Customs House, South Shields as part of the theater's February Drama Festival in 2006. She then appeared in New Writing North's production of Immaculate Deception.
In 2007 Norton returned to the Customs House to take her first foray into Pantomime. Starring as Princess Jill in Jack And The Beanstalk alongside David Ducasse and Victoria Elliot.
In 2008 she appeared at the Northern Stage (formerly Newcastle Playhouse) as Blackie the Cat in Hansel and Gretel.
In 2009 she also appeared in You Couldn't Make It Up, "A fascinating and satirical look at the recent media circus surrounding the trials and tribulations of The Toon Army." In the same year Norton appeared at the Customs House in Lucky Numbers a comedy by playwright Mike Yeaman. Norton played the role of a Goth.
In 2009 she portrayed the role of Dara, a "20 Something good time girl" in the Live Theatre's production of Jump.
In 2010, Norton also booked a role as Carol a businesswoman in Canoeing For Beginners. Carol was in a desperate search for her father Frank, who faked his own death and subsequently tracks him down in Cuba to find out the truth. Norton earned good reviews for her performances with one reviewer calling her performance, superb. The production was performed at the Customs House, South Shields.
Also in 2010, Norton booked a role in A Nightingale Sang portraying the role of Helen. The production toured the North of England and was performed at theOldham Coliseum Theatre and at the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough in early 2010.
Commenting on A Nightingale Sang, What's On Stage's Malcolm Wallace praised Norton's portrayal of Helen, saying "Norton takes while to warm up but as the evening progresses and the character develops her performance grows and her final scenes with Jack Bennett, who excellently plays Helen's lover Norman, are dignified and poignant.
Also in 2010 Norton portrayed the role of lap dancer Carla in Faith & Cold Reading opposite Stephen Tompkinson. Norton earned positive reviews for her role in Faith & Cold Reading. Chris Collett of The Stage magazine commented she was "restrained yet, heart-rending performance as Carla, Sammy's world weary girlfriend."
Over the course of rehearsing Faith & Cold Reading Norton also kept a blog on Live Theatre's website. She spoke of the privilege she felt working on the production and the "surreal" nature of working with Stephen Tompkinson. Reviewers commented that Norton and Tompkinson shared a good on stage rapport and her performance was compelling.
She also appeared as Chelle a young woman in her 20s in Nativities. She again earned critical acclaim for her role as Chelle, with Paul Clifford of the Shields Gazette giving Norton a positive review. "Laura Norton did a fine job as Chelle, a young mum who would rather go out and get drunk than look after her child.
Speaking about the production with co-star Melanie Hill, Norton stated that the characters in the play were "extreme" and all "interweaved into each others lives." Delving into her character, Norton explained Chelle's journey, "She has had a baby really young, has got trapped in this life she does not want to be in. She's really bitter and regretful, mourning for the life she has lost. She feels her life has been taken away from her and that's why she gets her claws into this young lass, whose life she wants. She is vile.
Early in 2012, Norton also appeared in I'm Sorry – Present:Tense with Nabakov a play based around a specific topic effecting the local area of Newcastle. After development of the idea a theme was selected after it featured heavily in The Evening Chronicle. It was announced that the series of plays would focus on "How Government cuts are disproportionally affecting women.
Alongside James Baxter and Chloe Allen, Norton was selected to feature in the week-long project under the directorship of Phil Ormrod.
On 23 February 2013, Norton returned to the Live Theatre in Newcastle in White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, a play written by Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour. Norton performed the production alone, without even seeing the script before hand, on a simplified set and without direction.
In 2011 at the Live Theatre, Norton appeared alongside actor Mark Benton and Joe Caffrey in Jesting About. "A collaborative project between the BBC and Northern Film and Media (NFM), aimed at unearthing new laugh-making talent" within the North East. The 30 minute comedy sketch show was also broadcast on BBC Radio Newcastle on 2 May 2011.
In 2012 Norton appeared alongside Bev Fox (co-founder), Paula Penman and Jayne Humphreys in partnership with Newcastle based improvisational group The Suggestibles, at the Newcastle Pride Festival 2012. She performed comedy sketches in the Women's tent as part of the Pride festival.
On 9 February 2013, Norton also showed her support for a campaign to prevent the closure of libraries in the Newcastle area. Norton read scenes from We love you, Arthur and also a monologue about dementia. Norton was joined by Emmerdale colleagues, Chelsea Halfpenny and Charlie Hardwick.
Norton on 16 February 2013, also joined forces with a number of local campaigners opposing cuts to front-line services as a consequence of the funding cuts made by the coalition government. She was again joined by Chelsea Halfpenny, Charlie Hardwick and North East playwright Fiona Evans.
In August 2014, Norton helped to raise awareness of the disease ALS by participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Norton has been nominated in the best newcomer category at the 2013 British Soap Awards.