Jamie-Lee O’Donnell has spoken about how she imagines having “real compassion” would make the job of a prison officer easier as she stars in Screw for its second season.
The Derry Girls actress, 36, stars opposite Last Tango In Halifax actor Nina Sosanya in the Channel 4 prison series.
O’Donnell plays, Rose, a prison officer based at Long Marsh prison as the institution contends with rumours of an undercover policeman on the wing and a recent death.
When asked about the attributes prison officers need, she said: “Having some really compassion, understanding of a problem, I would imagine makes things go that wee bit easier…
“But obviously, we’ve never actually worked as prison officers so I wouldn’t want to over-step.”
Speaking about her character dealing with the wake of Toby Phillips’s (Jack Bardoe) death, O’Donnell said: “I suppose everybody has their own version of that. Rose has taken the time off where some of the others didn’t, so her coming back is almost a reset for her.
“But again, it’s not as if things have totally calmed down. She’s just trying to stay positive and laugh and be jovial and give everybody a hug.
“But other things take over that thought process very quickly, so the focus can’t be on the positive for long. This second series is on the more serious side, and that’s reflected in Rose’s story.”
She also said the “death has shaken her (character) a bit and brought her back down to earth, so she’s thinking about things a bit more” and “thinking the job’s worth it”.
O’Donnell said: “Even by the fact that she’s come back and hasn’t just given up, which was obviously her goal through season one.
“She’s got a good enough attitude, even if she’s not going to be singing and dancing on the way in. But the fact she’s there and she’s positive, she’s accepted she might be good at the job and she’s meeting everybody with a smile, ready to go – that’s a testament to how inspiring Toby was for her.”
Rose is also drawing closer to Leigh (Sosanya), according to O’Donnell, following the death of her “friend and confidant” being shot dead in front of her.
O’Donnell said: “We’ve been heading this way since season one, when she was told she was good at it and just went, that’s ridiculous, of course I’m not.
“And seeing a woman in charge of this male environment is quite inspiring to Rose, so she’s happy to accept this mentee role.”
Screw is available on Channel 4.com.
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