EXCLUSIVE: Dani Dyer, star of British reality smash Love Island, is in talks to star in a feature film that deals with race, politics, religion and sexuality from a fledgling, socially conscious production collective.
The British actress, who is the daughter of EastEnders and The Football Factory star Danny Dyer, has been lined up to star in O31, from Roccowinks Productions, set up by Joshua Whincup and Miriam Ahmed. It would mark her first leading feature role, having had small roles in films such as We Still Kill The Old Way, and comes as her star is rising thanks to the ratings success of the ITV2 format. Last year, she filmed low-budget horror film Heckle alongside Clark Gable III, grandson of the Gone with the Wind actor.
O31, which is currently in pre-production, sees Dyer play Nancy Francis, a young girl suffering with grief following her mother’s murder and the realization that her brother may have done it. The film takes a few twists and turns when she starts going to therapy and discussing her issues with Dr Legna, played by Ahmed, a woman from a Muslim background.
“It’s about race, politics, religion, homosexuality and how these are seen in society,” Whincup tells Deadline. “We’re trying to hold a mirror up to society.”
The film will be directed by Jamie Weston and was written by Whincup and Ahmed alongside Adi Alfa, Andrew Curd and Caroline Southwell. The Square’s Moa Enqvist Stefansdotter, Getting On star Ricky Grover and The Business’ Eddie Webber also star.
Whincup said that he and Ahmed (right), who has appeared in ITV soap Coronation Street, set up Rocco Winks Productions just over a year ago to bring diverse stories to the screen. “The reason we wanted to set this up was to start talking about these taboo subjects, like knife crime and gangs in London. I believe there’s so much creativity and it’s not exploited enough. I think we focus on the negatives but at the same time, there’s a lot of fantastic things that are happening out there with young people, whether they’re black, white, gay, straight, transgender, it doesn’t matter. That’s what we’re trying to get across in this project,” he said.
Whincup added that he wanted to create a platform for youngsters in London as a way to deal with gang crime and other issues facing teens in the capital. “There’s a stigma amongst young people and there’s this deep dark cloud over all of the youth. The youth needs help. I can’t go out on to the streets and literally stop people shooting or stabbing each other, I would love to but I can’t, so the only way I know how to do that is to create a platform for these children in order to showcase their talents and to inspire others and put this gang culture behind them, this criminal lifestyle that they’re living and express themselves in the media and arts and sports.”
He said that they are currently looking for extra funding via the BFI application process the BFI. But he said, “The project will go ahead regardless but obviously the more funds we can get the more people we can reach and the more we can shout from the rooftops.” He adds that Rocco Winks Productions has a number of other projects in development, including feature film Forced Insomnia and a number of short films.
The news comes after Danny Dyer, who went viral last week with a take on Brexit that was lauded by the likes of Girls’ Lena Dunham and Baby Driver director Edgar Wright, called his daughter Dani a “talented actress”.
Whincup said that he hopes that the role will give her the chance to hone her talents. “It’s an extremely challenging role; it’s just not Dani Dyer from Love Island, it’s Dani Dyer the actress, we’re going to give her that platform to explore this character and explore these subjects,” he added.