Joining the cast in Series 4 of Ackley Bridge, Jasmine Payne has been seen playing Queenie Cooper in the Channel 4 show, which she filmed during the pandemic alongside a cast including her on-screen brother Johnny played by Ryan Dean. Another project Jasmine filmed during the pandemic was Jimmy McGovern’s TV series Moving On playing the role of Katy in the episode Hungry to Learn, airing on BBC earlier this year. Jasmine made her major screen debut when she booked the role of Katie in CBBC comedy series 4 O’Clock Club in 2016, which saw her develop the character over her five years spent in the show. Answering our questions, Jasmine chats about playing the role of Queenie Cooper in Ackley Bridge, filming her episode of Moving On and booking her role of Katie in CBBC’s 4 O’Clock Club.
What was it like joining the cast of Ackley Bridge in Series 4 and can you say about your character Queenie Cooper?
Amazing! It was such an amazing cast and crew to work with and so nice to work with a fresh group of people. Queenie is a great character to play, she’s so fiery, yet so family orientated at the same time, which creates a lovely balance and dynamic!
Can you tell us what it was like filming during the pandemic?
Very different to anything I’ve filmed before! It was strange to not have the social aspect of being able to mix with the other cast members as much as you normally would on set. However, it was amazing to know we were still able to work, whilst still keeping everyone safe.
How is it working with the rest of the cast and what do you enjoy most about being part of the Channel 4 series?
I loved working with such a talented and hard-working cast. Being part of a Channel 4 series was so exciting for me, as it felt like a jump from children’s TV into more serious and complex storylines, which Ackley Bridge provided – it’s always nice as an actor to receive a script you can really dig deep into and constantly ask yourself questions about.
Have you had a favourite scene to film and what is Queenie like to play?
My favourite scene was 100% the scene between me and Ryan (Dean), who played my brother Johnny, just before his wedding. Although Queenie has an ‘out there’ personality and doesn’t often care what people think of her, she also has a very loving side and will do anything to protect her family. It was really nice to see that side of her and start to see that close sibling bond Johnny and Queenie have.
What was your episode of Moving On like to film and who is your character Katy?
I loved working on Moving On, as we started shooting just as some of the restrictions were lifting, so it felt like a step back into some kind of normality! It was great to work with a script that also affects so many young people in this day and age. I think Jimmy McGovern’s Moving On is so great, as it tackles such relevant themes and so many people from all different backgrounds can relate, so I was so happy to be given the chance to be involved.
How different did you find the experience working on a stand-alone episode to working as a series regular?
I loved how close all the cast and crew became still, even though we were only shooting for a week! It was very quick-paced and you could feel the pressure to get what needed to be shot in the short time we had, but this definitely added a lot of excitement and energy to the scenes!
You booked your first major screen role as Katie in 4 O’Clock Club, do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role?
Originally Katie was a guest role, so when I first booked the job I was only meant to appear in one episode. So when I heard the production team loved the character and wanted to bring her back as a series regular for future series to come, I was over the moon! When I first started 4OCC I was only fourteen, so to have such an amazing opportunity and to work on a professional, working set from such a young age, with such talented people, was amazing.
How was it filming for a CBBC comedy series and what are some of your favourite memories from your time in the show?
In one word – CRAZY! Shooting for children’s TV is so much fun, because you never know what to expect when you open that script. We dressed up as lobsters, rapped about unicorns, threw a pie in someone’s face – you name it, we probably did it! My favourite memories were definitely how much fun we had on set making our audience laugh, and I think the truthfulness of our enjoyment on set definitely came across in the final edits of the series.
What was it like seeing the viewers’ response to your character joining and how was it developing Katie over time?
The viewers responded so well, which was so nice to hear, as Katie was often not the kindest of characters (she definitely had her feisty side)! Katie 100% developed over the years, just like any girl of that age would. I think the biggest thing for her was coming out as bisexual and having a relationship with the character Fleur. I loved the way CBBC did this and made it so accessible for young people to watch and understand that it is completely fine to be who you want to be!
Is there anything you miss most about being part of 4 O’Clock Club?
100% the cast and crew! We became a family! I was on the show for five years and some of the others were even longer, so we all became so close. We spent thirteen weeks of the year together filming and then often met up at other points too, for ADR, screenings, read-throughs etc, so it felt like we were always together! Through 4OCC I definitely made some friends for life and we still speak and meet up when we can now. I’ve definitely got a lot to thank 4OCC for, it helped start my career and opened so many opportunities as well as working with some amazing people!
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
I’ve always danced from being around two years old, so performing was always in my life. I trained six to seven days a week as I got older, and although my love for dancing will always be there as it is still such a massive part of my life, I knew that it wasn’t the right career path for me. I’d always done acting alongside dancing, so when I got to high school I decided I wanted to take acting as serious as I did dancing, so that’s what I did! I fell in love with acting, as I often struggle expressing my emotions as ‘Jasmine’. Acting gives me a way to do that as a character. Although I know I never ‘become that character’ and essentially I am Jasmine taking on the circumstances and objectives of a character’s life, it gives me that opportunity of escapism in a way; that’s where my love for it comes from – that feeling of escapism.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch and have you seen any recently you would recommend?
I am obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race – I think I have watched every season from each country at least twice! For anyone who has never watched I highly recommend, especially the UK version, as I love anything that represents our true ‘Britishness’! Other than Drag Race, I love a good British drama. My favourites from the last few months have definitely been Time, It’s a Sin and Too Close. They were all completely different and I loved them all for different reasons, but all so cleverly written and directed, with some phenomenal acting too. All three of those dramas definitely told a story which everybody could relate to, even just a little bit; whether you related to the actual story being told, or just the way a certain character dealt with a situation, everybody could find a connection. I love a series we can relate to, as I think it often helps so many people, makes them not feel like they are the only one going through something and creates so much more of a personal connection to the audience. Very, very clever!
We understand you do ballet and dance, can you say more about this?
I love dancing and this will always be such a massive part of my life. Dancing gives that sense of release and escapism just the same way acting does for me and I will never lose that love for dancing, I just knew it wasn’t right for me career-wise. I fell in love with teaching dance and watching young dancers learn the true meaning of performing, as this is what I do alongside my acting work. I love being able to be a part of the dancer someone becomes; there is such a special connection between a dance teacher and their students, I know that from my teachers, so I love to really motivate the students to bring out that dancer and performer inside of them!
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
Spending time with family and my little dog Timmy! He’s the cutest little dog! I think often with a career such as acting, you never stop. There’s always something extra you feel you can be doing or working on, but it so important to have something away from acting so you can take a step back and enjoy some time with yourself and your family; which is why I teach alongside my acting work, to give me something else to think about too.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
I can’t wait to hopefully see if we go back to Ackley Bridge, to start shooting for Series 5; I’d be so excited to see Queenie’s progression in this series! I’m also hoping for some more exciting castings – I’d love to be a part of a really gritty Northern drama some day. I’m also excited for our industry to really fire back up again! I feel our industry has been so hard-hit during this pandemic, yet it is such an important industry to everyone. So I can’t wait to watch it grow and power through the struggles of the last year or so and see all the new and emerging talent come through.
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