AMBER Davies offers up a career reflection that’s as a surprising as it is refreshing. The Welsh musical theatre star admits she’s really glad she didn’t land the lead role in stage musical Pretty Woman when she first auditioned four years ago.

“I wasn’t ready for the responsibility,” she says of the part of sex worker Vivien. “I went up for it for the original production in town, and when I didn’t get it, I was gutted. I was absolutely heartbroken. But now, at the age of 27, I think it was the right decision at the time. I’m now experienced enough to be on stage for two and a half hours, and to go out on the road with the show, as it’s so intense.”

The Welsh performer, who found fame in ITV2’s reality show Love Island smiles as she adds; “Right now, I won’t drink alcohol at all while I’m doing this role. I really look after myself. But there was a time when I was . . . wild.”

Davies had previously starred in stage musical 9 to 5. “I was ready to get a new liver by the time the run had finished. But when I landed this part, I thought I’m not going to drink. I’m going to do everything I can to be the best version of me I can be.”

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As a teenager, Davies worked hard to build a career in musical theatre. “After school, I didn’t go out with my friends, I’d go to ballet, or musical theatre class.” Aged just 16, she left home and moved to London to go through the endless rounds of casting auditions. But nothing happened for her. Then in 2017 came the sliding doors moment; Davies was asked to join ITV2 reality show Love Island. “I didn’t go on Love Island thinking this could be a fast route to fame and take me onto the West End, for all I know it could have destroyed that side of my life. The public might have hated me. Yet, I didn’t really think about any of that because I was so young.”

Davies won the contest, and the publicity she attracted was phenomenal, racking up 1.6m followers in social media. She laughs. “I still don’t really know why. All I know is that I work hard and I’m a team player, and I think I’m very normal.”

Davies went on to appear in West End theatre hits such as Back to The Future. Yet, the iconic role played by Julia Roberts in the 1990 movie represents a different challenge. “I realised that these (Julia Roberts’) shoes were immensely hard to fill. So, what I did was watch the film over and over again, to make sure that I didn’t do a copy of Julia but pick up the little things she brought to the character, like her hand gestures. She’s so minimalistic in what she does, but tactful.

“Yet, because this is a musical version I can elevate those moments, pay as much homage to Julia Roberts as I possibly can, yet bring my own take as well.”

The Pretty Woman storyline is a little preposterous; wealthy but emotionally stunted businessman Edward (Scrooge in Armani) meets a modern-day Cinderella, Vivien, who isn’t really out to find her prince. Instead, she’s a defiantly independent sex worker.

Amber Davies is entirely aware this is a tricky story to sell to an audience, particularly since sensibilities have changed a great deal since the late Eighties when the film script was written. “That’s right,” she says. As far as the prostitution side of it goes, we had lots of talks as a company about what we were comfortable with, such as using the words ‘hooker’, or ‘pimps’ – given that this was the language of the period.”

Were there moral issues to contend with? “In terms of her character, what we have to bear in mind is that Vivien is an intelligent, strong woman - but someone who found herself going down the path she did becomes times were tough. And what I love about the story is that right at the end, when she is handed the world, she says no.” The actor smiles. “Yes, Vivien is a sex worker, but my god she has so much more to herself than that.”

Vivien may see sex as transactional, but she always holds the power in the relationship. In that sense, does she present a strong argument for feminism? “Oh, yes. Meeting Edward changes the direction of her life but she’s not ashamed of who she is.”

Davies smiles. “It was her choice to sell her body. She never sold her soul.”

Pretty Woman, The Theatre Royal Glasgow, today until November 25 also stars Oliver Saville as Edward and Ore Oduba as Mr Thompson and Natalie Paris as Kit de Luca.