Former LFC star’s daughter sets sights on Hollywood

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When most Liverpudlians hear the surname ' Sinama Pongolle ', they'll instantly think of the former Liverpool FC star Florent Sinama Pongolle.

But he isn't the only Sinama Pongolle making waves in the world.

His daughter, Leona, is forging a career on stage and screen – and just like her dad, she is starting out on her chosen career path early.

The 14-year-old was encouraged by family friend and Killing Eve actress Jodie Comer to try her hand at acting.

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Leona takes inspiration from her dad

Speaking to the ECHO, Leona said: "I’ve always been a bit of a drama queen but around four years ago when I was in year six, I got the part of the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz for the school play.

"When I performed in the play my mum instantly knew I was really good at acting.

"There were two performances and our family friend Jodie Comer came to watch and told my mum to get me an agent."

Leona also explains her dad's tenacity, having signed with Liverpool at just 16-years-old, was a big motivation.

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Leona Sinama Pongolle with her dad Florent

She said: "My dad’s career has really inspired me to become successful at acting.

"He made massive sacrifices as a child, leaving his family behind in Reunion at age 11 to pursue a career in football.

"I admire his determination and desire to succeed and I think I definitely get those traits from him.

"I think seeing how popular my dad is makes me really proud of him and everything he has achieved in his career."

Leona added: "When he comes to Liverpool it’s always inspiring and mesmerising to see how people really look up to him.

"A city like Liverpool never forgets a footballing hero and people always remind him of his infamous performance against Olympiacos in 2004.

"It makes me realise how all his hard work has affected people and given them enjoyment."

And after taking a leaf out of her dad's book and pursuing her dream, Leona has landed a role in hit CBBC series Jamie Johnson – which coincidentally centres around football.

Leona said: "Football has always been a massive part of my life. My dad is an ex-Liverpool player and my whole family are massive Liverpool fans.

"My granddad and I went to the Madrid Champions League final in 2019 and it was the most amazing experience."

At the age of 14, Leona has a star role

"I go to as many games as possible as I love watching Liverpool play. I play football for Woolton Girls and love playing with all the girls there.

"Quite ironically though, my character in Jamie Johnson is a non-footballer."

Leona added: "When I first found out I was going to be on Jamie Johnson I was so unbelievably happy.

"My mum and nan picked me up from school that day and my nan was filming me while my mum told me the good news.

Leona performing on stage

"I was laughing and crying with happiness at the same time. It was one of the best moments in my life.

"I play a character called Aisha. I think that Aisha is a very interesting character. She is very fierce, sassy and confident.

"She’s popular amongst the boys and girls alike and on occasions gets up to some unintended mischief."

As for the future, Leona has high hopes as she aspires to join her friend Jodie Comer on the big screen.

She said: "I would love to star in a Netflix show or in a Hollywood blockbuster.

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"This is my dream in life as I love acting and am constantly pushing myself as a performer. I would love to work with different directors and producers around the world.

"To work with Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson or Jodie Comer would be a dream come true.

"And even better if they were all in the same film. I absolutely adore the three of them and it would be such a pleasure to work with any one of them as they are all so incredibly talented."

You can watch Leona in the new series of Jamie Johnson on BBC iPlayer here.

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