Making her soap opera debut at the end of April on the iTV/BritBox serial Coronation Street, newcomer Mollie Winnard quickly garnered herself a place on the cobbles as she found herself smackdab in the middle of the teen scene when her character Kayla Westbrook was revealed to be the daughter of child abuser Neil Clifton (Ben Cartwright). TV Source Magazine recently spoke with the new soap star discussing her characters’ motivation, future, and what it’s like to portray such emotional scenes.
Being the daughter of an accused pedophile, especially one who was as highly regarded as Neil was within the police force isn’t something that Winnard’s character Kayla finds easy to deal with. “She is a daddy’s girl; her dad is her whole world.” Thus, when Neil’s appeal is rejected Kayla’s entire world comes crashing down. “That is the moment that everything switches for her. At first, she was just trying to gather information for the appeal but the minute that the appeal is rejected, and her dad says to her, ‘I am going to die in prison,’ that is when she makes the decision that she will do whatever it takes to protect her dad.”
Thus, it’s in that moment that Kayla’s plan to manipulate Craig Tinker (Colson Smith) and prove that Bethany Platt (Lucy Fallon) is lying about everything is once again set in motion. “Her plan is back on. She believes that Craig knows that Bethany has lied about Kayla’s dad, Neil, and that he can’t cope with that and that is what has triggered his OCD, so she is trying to bring it back up.”
“She tells Craig she loves him, and she sleeps with him to make him feel this attachment towards her. She is definitely messing with Craig,” teases the actress. But that isn’t to say that Kayla doesn’t understand what her actions are doing. “She feels bad for sleeping with Craig because she isn’t doing it for love, she knows what she is doing. She has spent a lot of time with him and knows he’s not a bad lad, he’s a lovely person, but it’s sheer desperation.” It’s at that point that she believes her character feels guilty about her actions. “When she is leaving Craig’s house, the morning after she has slept with him, she is almost in tears and she just wants to give up, but she keeps on driving because the love for her dad makes it all worth it and she keeps reminding herself of that to get her through.”
Winnard says she feel she feels she’s surprised at how far she is prepared to go. “She is learning more about herself and what she is capable of along the way. But she is scared because if anyone was to find out who she really is, she loses everything.” If the residents of Weatherfield aren’t afraid, maybe they should be. “Craig, Bethany and anyone who gets in her way is in danger. She is risking a lot and it is such a dangerous game that she is playing so anything could happen,” exclaims the actress.
With that said, Winnard find ways to unwind after playing such highly emotional scenes. “I am quite a giddy person naturally. When it’s a scene where I have been crying a lot, I go on to my girl’s group chat which makes me upbeat and happy because everyone is constantly sending memes or I’ll eat chocolate, that’s always a good way.”
When it comes to playing a character as complex as Kayla, the actress says getting to do a lot is the best part. “She is a fun character to play because she has gone from being bubbly to crying to full of rage, it’s great to play such variety to her.”
Coronation Street airs double episodes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on iTV in the UK with Same Day episodes airing immediately after on BritBox in the United States, with episodes rebroadcasting on Hulu at a two-week delay.