Her father’s daughter

PUBLISHED: 09:56 19 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:57 19 July 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24:  Jaime Winstone attend the launch of the Vertu Constellation at Farmiloe Building on November 24, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Jaime Winstone attend the launch of the Vertu Constellation at Farmiloe Building on November 24, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

2011 Dave M. Benett

It must be hard to break free from the shackles of criticism based merely on being the offspring of a national treasure, but Ray Winstone’s daughter, Jaime, has set out to prove she has acting excellence all of her own.

Deeply likeable and frank, open and honest, Jaime has managed to carve out a burgeoning career beyond Ray’s lengthy shadow. The charismatic 27-year-old actress has taken on key roles in films as diverse as gritty drama Kidulthood, working class epic Made In Dagenham, plus Channel 4’s zombie drama Dead Set. Most recently, she joined the cast of Sky 1’s Mad Dogs, which follows the (mis)fortunes of a group of middle-aged friends in Majorca who find themselves embroiled in a world of crime and police corruption.

In this third series, Jaime plays Mercedes, an enigmatic con-artist. The actress shaved her head for the role and admits she felt right at home in the boys’ club with the leading men Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, Marc Warren and John Simm.

‘Well I’m such a huge fan of the show, so to get the call and the opportunity to play Mercedes has been wonderful,’ she smiles. ‘Getting the chance to shoot in Majorca with the boys and to be part of this established set-up was great. The guys are all so welcoming.

‘My character meets the boys while they’re incarcerated in prison and it remains to be seen whether she’ll be a help or a hindrance down the line. She provides a lifeline that they desperately need but can they trust her? She really stirs things up. Those boys needed a little feminine wile on their side – if she is indeed on their side.’

So far, Jaime’s career has been marked by a string of ‘tough girl’ roles, but she brushes aside any worries of being typecast. ‘Everything I’ve done has been quite diverse,’ she asserts. ‘I understand that most of them have been very intense roles, all quite unrelenting, but that’s just looking at them from a distance. And with my strong accent, it makes it seem like that’s all I can do. But I have had so much diversity in my career and hopefully will gain more. I guess people feel the need to pigeonhole stuff, really.’

Born in Camden and raised in Enfield, Jaime’s origins certainly shine through in her performances. When her family moved to Roydon, she attended Burnt Mill School in Harlow before going on to study for a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts at Harlow College. Soon she was making a big impression as a tough street kid in 2004’s Bullet Boy, about a family living in crime-ridden East London.

‘It was an interesting way to start because I could completely understand the mood of the area. East London and Essex have always been very dear to me – they are places with passion and spirit and an edge. You don’t move there to sink into the background like some other parts of London. People stand out there, and that’s what I love about those areas.’

And as you would expect, growing up with a famous father had its moments. ‘Well, when we lived in Enfield, dad wasn’t really famous so it was all pretty low key and normal like everyone else,’ Jaime recalls. ‘But when we moved to Essex, after things started to turn for him, it got a bit strange. I remember I’d be in my new school where all these posh boys would be trying to get a rise out of me, always saying, “Ray Winstone’s your dad, he’s proper hard! Just like you,” That ticked me off a little. I got in trouble with teachers initially because I was trying to assert myself in new surroundings, but after a while I settled and just got on with it.’

Many British actresses dream of heading to Hollywood, but Jaime’s happier remaining closer to home. ‘I go to LA quite a bit, but I’m quite in demand here at the moment,’ she smiles. ‘I love it there and my agent and representation are fantastic, but I really feel my passion and current work drive is here. I don’t feel the rush, the pressure to hit the States. I like what’s going on here and I want an important role in British film. There’s always time for Hollywood.’

Her father’s influence has kept Jaime grounded too. ‘I’ve taken my time. I knew what this game was all about through my dad and I learned and gained perspective from him. There was never any pressure. Dad took his time and now look, he’s making movies on both sides of the Atlantic – all over the world actually. He has never told me to go to the States; he doesn’t talk like that. He’s more, “What are you doing now?” That’s what is important to him. He just wants me to make my own mistakes because that’s the only way we learn.

‘And I think I’d miss Essex too much. Is there a county like it? On the doorstep of London with a beautiful coastline. It’s a party county, yet with some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK. It’s completely unique.’

So what other advantages has being Ray’s daughter presented? ‘Of course, I’m not going to honestly say it’s been the worst and I’ve had a terrible struggle, because in comparison to what other actors have to go through to get a break, it’s insane,’ she admits. ‘I appreciate the help my father’s given me; the advice he’s given me. It opened a few doors in the initial stages, but I’ve been standing on my own two feet a while now, and, you know, it feels good.’

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