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PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT: Scarlette Douglas bought her first home aged 25

FOR THE last three years, West End musical performer Scarlette Douglas had been pursuing a career change into television presenting – without much luck.

“I’ve been doing musical theatre for the last eight years. And in the last year, I’ve been saying I really want to focus more on my presenting,” Douglas tells The Voice.

“This year I was telling myself: ‘This is the year, this is the year’.”

And after taking a “leap of faith” and deciding to reject stage work offered to her, it turned out that her “on-the-side” hobby would be the key to unlocking her full potential.

She explains: “At the age of 25 I started doing property development and that’s always been my on-the-side expertise besides performing.

“So I had a meeting with my agent in the new year and I said ‘I don’t know if this helps, but I do some property development on the side’. She said ‘yes, that’s great because it’s always good to have an expertise’.”

In what seems like perfect timing, her agent spotted a casting call for new presenters for Channel 4’s home hunting programme, A Place in the Sun.

“Within the space of a week, I had a telephone interview and a screen test before finding out that I had got the job a couple days later. It all happened so quickly,” Douglas smiles.

“I was in shock when I found out that they wanted me. I was in London and I was in the cinema watching an awful film, half asleep, trying to kill time in between castings,” she recalls.

“I got a call from my agent and when she told me I got the job, I just screamed.”

And despite it being five months since she received the call, the performer still hasn’t quite got her head around it yet.

“At first I was like ‘no they must have got it wrong’. I just kept on thinking that they got it wrong. I just kept thinking ‘I need to get the contract; I need to get the contract before they change their mind.

“It was a big deal for me. Things like this never happen to me. I was so fortunate. I was just in shock.

“Even now, I’ve known since April, it’s finally airing, and I still can’t believe it’s actually happening.”

And for Douglas, her new job is a double accomplishment, as she says she thinks it’s a step in the right direction in terms of television diversity.

She explains: “I’ve had meetings with a few production companies and they ask questions like ‘who do you see yourself being?’ And to be honest, there’s no one out there at the moment.

“When I was younger, I had June Sarpong, and I could look up to her. We don’t really have anyone now. There’s Rochelle Humes who I think is brilliant on the Xtra Factor and last year we had Sarah-Jane [Crawford]. It’s not enough though.”

She continues: “I’m glad that Channel 4 took a chance on me. You don’t see young black female presenters that know about property. So they were like ‘wow you’re cool and you do property and you’re black, that’s great!’

“I hope I can be that person that inspires other young black females to get into property or something that’s not the norm.”

For most 25-year-olds, the thought of getting their foot on the first rung of the property ladder seems like a far away dream.

But for Douglas, it became a quick reality, and now, the 28-year-old is finalising the sale of her third developed property.

The actress, who has performed in Hairspray, We Will Rock You and was an original assistant choreographer for Thriller, realised that she was earning a decent amount of money, but hadn’t gotten around to signing up for a pension.

It was then, that her eldest brother offered her some brotherly advice.

Douglas says: “Doing musical theatre, I knew could get an equity pension but I kept on forgetting to sign up for it.

“So my brother suggested that I get into property because it’s like having a pension but the money is stored in the property.

“I thought that was a really good idea. I had a lot of money saved up and my mum had given me a loan, so to speak, so I managed to get a mortgage and got on the property ladder.

“I turned the first flat around in around eight months, sold that on and made money off that, and I was like ‘Yes! This is pretty cool’.”

With her sights set on a fourth property, the presenter explains what she looks for on the market.

“I look for something that needs to be done up, because that’s where you’re going to make most of your money.

“Obviously I wouldn’t want anything where it’s completely derelict that needs a lot of work. I look for something that needs to be done up, so you get more on your return.”

She adds: “So the first property I did up was only a one-bedroom flat but I turned it into a two-bedroom. I looked at the floor plan I saw that the living room and bedroom were both so big, but they didn’t need to be that big. So I took some space from the living room and some from the bedroom and then turned it into two bedrooms.

“Making a house a home is the best part of property development for me.”

A Place in the Sun – Summer Sun returns to our screens from September 21 until October 17 at 4pm every weekday on Channel 4

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