Laila Abdesselam Rouass (born 22 June 1971) is a British actress. She is best known for her portrayals of Amber Gates in Footballers' Wives (2004–2006) and Sahira Shah in Holby City (2011–12). She has also starred in Primeval and Spooks and been a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, in which she finished fourth.
Rouass was born in Stepney, London to a Moroccan father and an Indian mother.
Rouass worked as a VJ on Channel V in India in the 1990s. While on Channel V, she appeared in a music video for the band Colour Blind, directed by the then creative head of the channel, Shamin Desai.
After moving back to the UK, Rouass became famous for playing the role of Bollywood actress Amber Gates in the cult ITV1 series Footballers' Wives between 2004 and 2006 and, albeit briefly, on the ITV2 spin-off series Footballers' Wives: Extra Time. She also played recurring roles on the British soaps Family Affairs and Hollyoaks, as well as appearing in episodes of I Dream, Casualty and Meet the Magoons. She starred alongside Meera Syal in the television adaptation of Syal's novel, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee.
Rouass was ranked No.87 and No.69 on FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2004 and FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2005 respectively.
In 2009 she appeared as Egyptologist Sarah Page in the third series of the ITV science-fiction series Primeval. She left the show when location of filming was changed to Dublin, for series four and five, saying it would be hard to continue participating as she was a single parent.
In spring of 2010, Rouass announced that she will be making a film about Leila Khaled, who led the hijacking of a flight from Rome to Athens in 1969. Rouass stated she had funding for the film.
She played Maya Lahan, a regular character introduced in the ninth series of BBC One drama Spooks which broadcast from September 2010. She guest starred in The Sarah Jane Adventures in October 2010. Rouass then joined the cast of the BBC medical drama Holby City, appearing from February 2011 as registrar Sahira Shah. She left Holby City on 17 April 2012, after just 14 months on the show, to take a break to spend time with her family. The door has been left open for her to return.
She is also currently one of the presenters of "The Channel 4 TV Book Club".
She participated in the seventh series of Strictly Come Dancing, a BBC One reality show, paired with professional dancer Anton Du Beke, and alongside Footballers' Wives co-star Zoe Lucker. Controversy arose when Du Beke said that Rouass looked "like a Paki" after applying spray tan; he subsequently apologised for the gaffe.
The pair made it to the last four before being voted off the show on 6 December. She failed to show up for the final on 19 December to reprise her partnership with Anton Du Beke. The show's host, Bruce Forsyth, offered no reason for her absence although he did do so for the other missing celebrity, Phil Tufnell, who had influenza.
Rouass' first film was City of Dreams produced by Feroze Nadiawala, in which she starred opposite Lisa Ray and Saeed Jaffery. During the years that she was based in India, early in her career, she acted in some Indian films, Aditya Bhattacharya's Indo-Italian Senso unico (1999) and Dev Benegal's Split Wide Open (1999).
In 2000, Rouass starred in Jag Mhundra's controversial film, Bawandar (English title; The Sand Storm), about revenge rapes in Rajasthan, and she made her English-language film debut in 2002 with a small role in The Four Feathers opposite Heath Ledger.
She starred in The Hunt Feast (2004), and in 2006 she was cast in Aditya Raj Kapoor's film Don't Stop Dreaming.
Rouass also appeared in the independent British film Shoot on Sight (2007) opposite Brian Cox, Om Puri and Sadie Frost, Freebird (2008) and in the New Zealand funded picture Apron Strings (2008).
In 1990, Rouass married Abdeslam Rouass in Tower Hamlets, London. They divorced in 2003. She went through a religious ceremony in 2005 with Nasir Khan, a businessman and millionaire owner of the Accessory People retail chain and Asian Woman Magazine (AIM Ltd), however the two never legally married. In October 2006, Rouass saw a doctor regarding back pains only to find she was six months pregnant. She and Khan split briefly during the pregnancy and then reconciled. She gave birth to a daughter, Inez, in February 2007. She and Khan separated again in 2008, after which Rouass raised her daughter by herself. Khan was later jailed in 2011 for a scam. In February 2013, she became engaged to professional snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan, with whom she had been in a relationship since early 2012.