I, Daniel Blake star: 'working-class actresses are cast as drug addicts and bad mothers' | Film | The Guardian

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I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake star: 'working-class actresses are cast as drug addicts and bad mothers'

Hayley Squires, who features in Ken Loach’s latest, says she was passed over for roles because of her background and height

Catherine Shoard


Wed 28 Sep 2016 11.49 EDT Last modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 15.15 EST

This article is over 1 year old Squires with director Ken Loach and actor Dave Johns at the I, Daniel Blake photocall in Cannes. Photograph: Pascal le Segretain/Getty Images

The star of Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning movie I, Daniel Blake has attacked the film industry for prejudicial treatment of actors from less privileged backgrounds.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Hayley Squires said: “It’s a cliche for me to say, but there aren’t enough parts for working-class women.

“And the ones that are out there, you’re either playing the girlfriend of a drug dealer, a heroin addict, or a mother who can’t look after her kids.”

Squires said she thought her height – she is 5ft 2in – had also held her back. “When they’ve got 20 English roses who are 6ft tall and a size six, why would [Hollywood directors] see me? I always know I’m not going to get a part when I walk into a room and they go, ‘OK, we’re just going to do a full body shot, how tall are you?’ I’m 5ft 2in and a size 10, so you’re not going to put me in that Hollywood film, are you?”

Facebook Twitter Pinterest I, Daniel Blake: the trailer for Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winner

In Loach’s film, Squires plays a single mother who befriends an older carpenter with whom she bonds over their struggle to claim welfare benefits.

Squires said she hopes the film will cause a “shitstorm” when it is released next month. “I hope the film resonates with working-class audiences and helps them understand that compassion and unity is needed. Without that, no kind of change can happen.”


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