GRITTY new Leith-set drama The Grey Area may trawl the nightmarish underworld of the Capital’s drugs scene, but for receptionist Dominique Haig it is a dream come true.
The 23-year-old who by day works at Stuart Wight & Associates in Haymarket, is one of only a few professional actors in the film from Bafta-winning director Garry Fraser.
Fraser, who worked with Danny Boyle on T2: Trainspotting, found the majority of his cast through engaging with addiction recovery groups across the city.
The Grey Area will give Dominique her big break tonight when it is broadcast on the new BBC Scotland channel at 11pm.
“When I first got involved some three years ago, it was just a group of guys who were all in, or had been in recovery, doing workshops and improvising on their own experiences,” she recalls. “I had no idea what it would become.”
A visceral piece of television, The Grey Area is the culmination of those workshops and charts the lives of young rapper Mikey, burnt-out addict Marcus, and a teenage misfit Stephen.
All three are struggling to overcome the consequences of gang violence and drugs and when Mikey loses all he holds dear with the death of his partner Hannah, played by Dominique, he must fight his way back...
“They were looking for a female to audition for the role and Garry Fraser called me.
“I went along knowing they weren’t actors and thinking that, being the only actor, I wouldn’t be nervous, but when I got there they were brilliant.”
For the St George and Edinburgh Academy educated Dominique, the workshops proved eye-opening; her audition saw the actress who trained at Edinburgh College having to improvise a reaction to finding her partner stabbed and dying in a stairwell.
“It was a bit intense for a first audition,” she says, “and I still don’t know what I did, but when I finished I was offered the part.”
Working on the project was an education she admits.
“Before this, I didn’t realise the full extent of the drugs problem that still exists in Edinburgh.
“It wasn’t until I met and chatted with these guys that I realised it was a very real part of their lives.”
Filming of her scenes took place over a week, in a flat in Pilton.
She reflects, “Although I went to private schools, my dad was from Craigmount and my mum from Fitzroy, in Melbourne, which was wasn’t a great area when she was young, so as a kid I’d hung out with people from lots of different backgrounds.
“So going into that environment I wasn’t prepared to be shocked, but some of the stories the guys had of growing up, and the violence they had faced, did shock me.
“I was shocked how little a life was worth in their world, how they were immune to people dying.
“For me that would be the end of the world, but they just dealt with it as an every day thing. It was a very different world, one in which I was an outsider looking in.”
The role of Hannah is a very different to the part she played in acting debut, aged just five.
With a laugh, she recalls, “I played Jack in a school production of Jack and the Beanstalk and just loved being the centre of attention.
“I knew then it was what I was going to do and my family have supported me ever since, so I feel like I have a lot to live up to now.”
Initially planned as a six-part web series, Dominique was “gutted” to discover Hannah was killed off in The Grey Area.
“I am raging,” she laughs, “I even suggested she have an evil twin if they get more funding.
“But Garry has said he wants to do a series of short films and that one would focus on how Mikey and Hannah met... so you never know.”
Like viewers, Dominique will see the finished piece for the first time tonight.
“I missed the cast screening so I’ll be seeing it along with everyone else. I am buzzing.
“I feel really privileged to have experienced this with people who never intended to be actors and am so grateful to have met them. They are amazing and just so humble and modest about what they have achieved.”
The Grey Area, BBC Scotland, tonight 11pm