A Sussex actress wants to become the first female president of an artist’s union in 70 years.

Former Emmerdale star Jean Rogers launched her bid yesterday to become head of Equity, which represents artists across the creative industry.

The first female President of the group was Beatrix Lehmann who stood in 1945 but the role has been dominated by male candidates since she stood down.

Now Ms Rogers, whose own career began as a teenager thanks to a grant from West Sussex County Council that allowed her to attend the Guildhall School of Drama, is looking to change that and bring the union into the modern world.

She said: “I’ve been on the council for 20 years and vice president for 10.

“I think being vice president is a bit like being on the sidelines when you’re campaigning for issues in that you’re not leading from the front.

“I want to bring Equity into the 21st century.

“I think when something is a certain way it just continues being a certain way and people aren’t always aware what their automatic reaction is until they take a step back and ask ‘why is it like that?’.

“The message we’re pushing is we’re changing history and let’s move forward together.”

Members of Equity can vote for Ms Rogers until July 8 by going to www.vote-jean-rogers-for-equity-president.info.