Teenager Asha Alahan (Tanisha Gorey) is at the centre of a shocking new plot in which explicit pictures of her taken by crush Corey Brent on a video phone call have gone viral. Now the mortified Coronation Street schoolgirl is the subject of cruel gossip and feels utterly betrayed.
While naughty Corey did take screenshots of Asha after asking her to strip off on their virtual conversation without her consent, only viewers know it was actually Kelly Neelan who uploaded the images after sneakily swiping the lad’s phone.
Whoever is responsible for Asha’s nightmare, this is just the beginning of a harrowing plot shedding light on the risks of young people sharing sexual images online, which has had input from the NSPCC. RadioTimes.com spoke to 17-year-old Gorey, who has played Asha since the age of six, about the thought-provoking plot.
How did you feel about being given such a big storyline?
I was proud to have the responsibility of shining a light on this subject and educating people. Obviously I was nervous as it’s such a big thing, but I was excited to have something to get my teeth into. I felt privileged to be the one to bring this to the audience.
Has this sort of thing happened to anyone you know in real life?
Yes, to a girl in my school. She basically did something similar to what Asha did and it got around – everyone saw it, even if they didn’t want to, you get horrible people trying to spread it. The police came to the school, she her parents had meetings with the teachers, they tried their hardest to hide it but everyone knew it was going on. It was heartbreaking watching this girl descend into this spiral she couldn’t get out of. It brought home to me how serious an issue this is, and made me not want to hold back in the performance so viewers can see what this can do to people.
Did Asha feel pressured into stripping off for Corey on the call?
Asha thought it would make them ‘official’ boyfriend and girlfriend, it was almost an expectation that this is what you do when you’re at that stage with a boy. There was a sense of pressure from Corey in that he didn’t take no for an answer, she felt nervous and has had her self-esteem issues which we saw last year when she was bleaching her skin. She’s not confident but thought she’d feel better about herself and wanted more by Corey if she did what he asked – plus he was telling her how beautiful she is, trying to make her feel good about herself so she did it. But he was only telling her what she wanted to hear.
Asha shuts herself away as the pictures get around at Amy’s party, who can she turn to?
I don’t think Asha has anyone after what happens. Kelly has tried to turn Asha against Amy, so she’s not going to want to talk to her. Her dad Dev would overreact like he did with the skin lightening, her twin brother Aadi won’t want to discuss something so personal – this is her body, not the kind of thing you want to talk about with your brother. Asha wants the ground to swallow her up, shut the world out and let it blow over.
Asha lost her mum seven years ago, does she feel the loss more because of this?
It would be different if Sunita was there for her as she’d have another woman to talk to and she’d be more understanding. It’s embarrassing to talk about girls’ stuff with her dad and brother. Dev actually brings up Sunita when he’s telling her off for what she did, he’s disgusted and says her dead mother would be ashamed of her which is a very low blow. Losing her mum plays a big part in Asha’s issues, but they don’t necessarily stem from that.
Could she forgive Corey if she knew he didn’t upload the images?
Corey does apologise for screen-shotting the pictures without her consent, and there is a scene next week where they discuss why it was wrong. They have a conversation explaining it which I think is really important to show the audience, people need to know and understand what happened. Deep down Corey is a lovely guy and I think he genuinely likes Asha. If she does find out it was Kelly then her instincts to trust Corey were perhaps better than she realises. Obviously it wasn’t appropriate for him to watch the video at Amy’s party, but he wasn’t aware Kelly was watching over his shoulder.
What is the long-term impact on Asha’s life going to be after this?
Her self-esteem was destroyed with the skin lightening storyline, which was the first time we got to know what was really going on with her as a character – myself included. We are going through the journey with Asha at the same time. This incident ruins her self-esteem again, Dev flies off the handle and involves the police without her agreement so it just gets worse in terms of her not being able to trust anyone. Asha thinks the worst has already happened, but it carries on – she can’t even walk down her own street without everyone looking at her. It completely ruins her life. I’d love for her to blossom and be more confident, but at this moment it doesn’t look like that is going to happen…