Jamie Winstone: Daddy's girl

Despite having a famous actor for a father, British actress Jamie Winstone seems unfazed at following him onto the big screen, says Liz Hoggard
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The Independent Online

"I have never really felt the urge to dress for men," says Jamie Winstone, the 20-year-old daughter of great British actor Ray Winstone. Jamie is also an actor, and she's on the up. She appeared in Bullet Boy in 2004 and more recently Kidulthood, a controversial film about youth culture.

"I'm very boisterous," she states. "I was a complete tomboy when I was young. But my look as an actor is very flexible: if you're able to play beautiful and innocent, then fantastic, but I think you have more range if your face is a bit different. I find it more interesting playing a messed up and emotionally challenged character. If you're stranger on the eye, a little bit weird, I think that's a lot more appealing. Audiences don't just want to see the same sort of people all the time."

Kidulthood exposes teenage living and all its potential horrors. Set among a group of white and black teenagers in West London, from working-class and middle-class families, and based entirely on true stories, it claims to be the first feature film to accurately reflect what life is like for urban kids. The film opens with a middle-class schoolgirl being horrifically bullied in a classroom. When her preoccupied businessman father picks up her from school, he fails to spot the bruises. Ten minutes later, she's hanged herself. The other threads and stories are equally brutal. Running parallel, however, are storylines about coping with bad skin and how to choose your friends wisely.

In Kidulthood, Jamie Winstone plays alongside Noel Clarke - who also wrote the screenplay and was previously best-known for playing Billie "Rose" Piper's boyfriend in Doctor Who. There's a hip-hop and grime soundtrack by Dizzee Rascal and The Streets. The director of photography, Brian Tufano, shot Trainspotting and Quadrophenia. It's all very, very cool.

"My character Becky is a dream to play because she's completely selfish," she says. "She's very confident; a bit of an emotional bully. But inside she's crying out for help. She doesn't care about the rules."

Becky's sense of fashion, however, alarms the more kooky Jamie. "Green Rocawear jacket, little skirt, pink leggings, Timberlands. Bit of skin?" Jamie shudders. "Becky's attention-seeking without meaning it. I think she's quite cool because she's very funky and fresh without knowing it. I was so happy to play her rather than the girl next door."

Jamie's style is anything but. "My wardrobe is totally different from Becky's. But I do love to mix it up a bit. I like to change my style every day. I like to do my street-style - you know, baggy jeans, T-shirts, and it's all about a good pair of trainers. But also I'm loving my Vivienne Westwood at the moment: I've got these boots with little cap toes. They're so hot."

Kidulthood is a film about London youth culture - something Jamie, who grew up in the capital with her cockney geezer father Ray, knows all about. "As the daughter of a famous actor, I really want to carve out my own identity," she says. "I've always managed to do my own thing. If you get on that train of keeping up with the latest thing, it gets really boring. I'm not the classic English rose who sits around and drinks tea, who goes to fashion openings and hangs around the Portobello Market, because that's boring. I just like to enjoy myself. The culture's changing and the next generation is coming up with a bit of a bang."

Kidulthood, her latest venture, certainly hit the headlines with a bang. But for all its controversy, it is essentially an honest film about bullying: black kids bully white kids, white kids bully black kids, girls bully girls. The final message is that bullying is always unacceptable. "Bullies are bastards aren't they?" says Winstone with feeling. "If this film makes a couple of parents go, 'Maybe I should sit down and talk to my son or my daughter more', then I think it's done its job."

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