YOU might recognise the rather beautiful face of actress Kelby Keenan, from the Heinz Winter soup commercial, the one where the girl gets soaked in the rain, then runs home and gets into her cosies and is made to feel instantly better as soon as she gets the warm hug of Heinz soup inside her. It's been shown four years on the trot.

The born and bred Thundersley girl has finished a feature film, which she is in with David Tennant and Michael Gambon, due for release at the end of this year. Details about the film are still currently largely under wraps, but the title is Mad to be Normal and it's a biopic about RD Laing, a Scottish psychiatrist whose unconventional methods – including giving his patients LSD and encouraging them to “embrace their madness” – were condemned by his peers, but are now seen by some as ahead of their time.

It's one in a long line of film-acting roles the 27-year-old Kelby has had, many of the recent ones looking like they are about to do well indeed, having signed distribution deals in the US or USA, been nominated for film festivals around the world, been at Cannes and more.

As if that wasn't enough, Kelby runs her own small film production company. They have a film currently in pre production which is scheduled to be shot next month.

The company was set up by Kelby and her female friend, also an actress, and works to particularly promote women within film, which is still a massively male dominated industry.

Apart from all this being exciting and impressive, one of the most interesting things about Kelby's story, is her confession to having had crippling low self confidence right up until she was aged 16.

Nothing quite so unusual there, until you realise just one year later, aged 17, she suddenly decided to stop being a wallflower who wouldn't say boo to a goose, to run away to the Big Smoke to find her own way - quite a mature and brave decision, as well as oddly spontaneous decision for a young, extremely shy teenager.

"I really hadn't done much in the way of performing arts before the age of 16" she said. "I was very much an introverted person. I don't quite know what happened when I hit 16. Up until that point I said I wanted to be a lawyer.

"I dabbled in drama, but nothing major. I never had any confidence in myself. I was always the quiet one, always felt invisible. My friends were all outgoing so I left it up to them. I think I was only what people wanted me to be.

"But there was something in me, something deep down which wanted it, and I knew I had to make the decision to move away from home or I would never do it."

Kelby, had attended The Deanes school in Thundersley before going on to Seevic college for a year. Then she moved to London where she started to train as a dancer and an actress.

"I did part time jobs - so many part time jobs" said Kelby, "it was hard, but I really wanted it. Maybe it was a little naive, but I was fed up with being so unconfident in who I was. I knew I always had it in me to do something, but didn't have the confidence to do it. I realised you only get one chance so it was time to go for it."

A couple of years later Kelby went to Los Angeles to do a short course.

"That was amazing" she said. "It was an industry intensive course, which I found really helpful. It was scary on the plane there, but it all paid off. I came back feeling like I'd learned a lot and was wiser."

Jobs came in, among them Fragments Of May which highlights the major issues on mental health. It has been nominated for world wide film festival showings, and Kelby says it's a piece she is particularly proud of as the role demanded her to go into isolation and visit dark places within herself.

"It was challenging but I wanted to do it properly. It was quite tough to go into that psyche" she said.

Of course she is still learning, but her life as an actress now is something Kelby says she wouldn't change for the world.

"I think I could have quite easily not chosen to do this" she said. "I could have gone to uni, got a job which paid good money Monday to Friday, been comfortable. And I'm not saying that is a bad thing. But I would say to anyone who has any kind of feeling that they want to do something different, if they really want something, they shouldn't listen to anyone but themselves and go for it.

"It can be tough - not easy at all. But I love doing it, and that feeling I have when I am working as an actress outweighs all the times when I am not, when I am waitressing, and have no money, and can't go on holiday with my friends.

"It is so important to follow your dreams and keep pushing for success. As someone that came from a very 'normal' family, with a working class upbringing I would love to inspire even just one person to pursue their dreams."