ITV Emmerdale: Real life of Leyla Cavanagh actress Roxy Shahidi – famous actor husband, two-week proposal and second career

Leyla Cavanagh may have pulled off a minor miracle by surviving Meena Jutla earlier this year. Roxy Shahidi was almost waving goodbye to the ITV soap when her character was shot by the serial killer.

In shock scenes, Leyla, whose husband Liam was reeling from finding out Meena killed his only daughter Leanna last year, was targeted by the former nurse as she headed out in search of Dawn Taylor and Billy Fletcher who had disappeared since their own wedding day.

Shortly after saying ‘I do’, Dawn and Billy were kidnapped by Meena and left begging for their lives. With everyone worried back in the village as to the whereabouts – and with Meena on the loose, wedding planner Leyla decided to go out in search and when she spotted them, she approached in her car only to spot Meena who was wielding a gun.

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Luckily, Leyla survived to tell the tale, making a miraculous, Emmerdale-style recovery. But life still hasn’t been plain sailing as her husband de ella and Meena’s other victims are now fraught and waiting for Meena’s murder trial which starts in the Yorkshire-based soap on Monday (April 11).

It has already been teased that Leyla is hiding something, with spoilers telling fans that Wendy Posnet will be seen quizzing Leyla about her whereabouts. It comes after viewers saw her during Friday night’s trip to the Dales taking an interesting phone call. Claiming it was work, Leyla took the call in The Woolpack where she arranged to meet someone leaving fans wondering who it could be.

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For now, it is all under wraps but it won’t be long before the truth comes out. But what we do know is that Roxy’s life from her is completely different from that of her characters from her.

Roxy as Leyla in Emmerdale


wRoxy began her career as part of Contact Young Actors Company in 2004 and went on to work for Peskar Productions as a drama workshop leader in Oldham and Bolton. Her theater credits include East is East and Rafta, Rafta… at the National Theatre. Her only other TV role of her before Emmerdale, which she joined in 2008, was in BBC comedy-drama Synchronicity.

The soap star, who grew up in Manchester, is happily married and has a four-year-old daughter with her famous actor husband. Roxy, whose real name is Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi, is loved-up with Arsher Ali who is best known for his roles in BBC cop drama Line of Duty and Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge and The Missing but his breakout role was in the film Four Lions , where he played Hassan.

The pair tied the knot in 2010 and after ten years together, the couple welcomed their baby daughter into the world in January 2018 and the family of four – if you include their adorable German Shepherd called Kaya, live in Nottingham, where Arsher is from. Sharing news of their puppy’s arrival, Roxy shared on Instagram: “Look who’s just joined the family Kaya the German Shepherd, she is a little power house! Full of energy and cuddles.”

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The start of Arsher, 38, and Roxy’s, 39, relationship was a whirlwind. They met way back in 2007 while working on a play in London. Amazingly, Arsher proposed to Roxy just two weeks after meeting her and the rest, as they say, is history.

Recalling the moment he popped the question, Roxy told the Mirror in 2014: “He just looked me in the eye at a cast party and said, ‘Will you marry me?’ I didn’t answer and he said, ‘You will be my wife’ and that was it. I didn’t quite know what to make of it because I didn’t know him that well.”

She added: “I knew that he liked me but we hadn’t really said anything. We hadn’t even kissed! “I half wanted to laugh and say, ‘That’s absolutely ridiculous!’, and the other half thought, ‘Oooh , kiss me passionately!'”

Roxy and Arsher

Roxy also told OK! in 2017: “We were doing a play together at the National Theater and one day he looked me in the eye and said: ‘You will be my wife.’ We hadn’t even kissed! It probably should have freaked me out but I actually quite liked how confident and cocky he was. I let him take me on a date and seven years later we finally got round to tying the knot.”

The pair walked down the aisle surrounded by their friends and family and less than eight years later their little family grew with their daughter’s arrival. Roxy told OK! when they revealed their baby joy: “We were actively trying so I knew there was a chance, but other than that I didn’t notice any signs that I could be pregnant.

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Roxy is a trained yoga instructor

“It’s weird as Charlie [Webb, who played Debbie Dingle in Emmerdale] actually told me she thought I was pregnant before I did the test. We had been working together and she called me when I got home and said my boobs gave it away. Arsher also guessed too because one day I had a sudden craving for Hula Hoops, which isn’t something I’d usually eat. I didn’t believe I was, though.”

While the couple keep their daughter out of the spotlight, and her name unknown, Roxy and Arsher sometimes do share photos of themselves together with fans – but it’s still very rare.

Sharing a photo of the pair on a city break together in May ast year, Roxy wrote on Instgaram: “Me and the man @arsherali. We’re not great for taking pictures, I mean we might take two pics together a year, tops This was taken a few years ago, Christmas in Amsterdam, it popped up on my phone and made me smile.”

Away from her family life and job in Emmerdale, Roxy, who has been vegan since she was 21, has a second career as a trained Yoga instructor. She has her own YouTube channel, called YogaRox, where she posted tutorials a lot during lockdown and she also shares some of her routines with her Instagram followers.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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