THE OUTNET’S Head of Content, Claudia Mahoney, got to catch up with British-American Actor and Chanel muse Lily Newmark. In case you missed their live conversation, we made sure to save some of the best bits…
Claudia: Welcome to In Conversation with THE OUTNET. We’re so grateful to you for joining us this evening. So, Lily Newmark, actor extraordinaire, you’re famed for taking really diverse roles. Is that a conscious decision?
Lily: I think sometimes it is conscious, but I think it also comes down to my casting. I think I do get more interest from casting directors with the ‘quirkier’ roles and thus far I haven’t played, the generic ‘leading lady’. I mean, Iona in _Pin Cushion _was my first leading part and she certainly wasn’t generic by any standards.
Claudia: So, what are your criteria when you’re trying to select a part? Is it the script, is it who the director is? Do you have a tick list?
Lily: Not necessarily a tick list, I have baselines, standards, when it comes to the team. If it’s just completely made up of middle-aged white men, that’s not gonna go down too well with me. I’ve had a good run of working with diverse teams and, in terms of character, they have to have a strong arc throughout the story, and they have to have purpose within the story.
Claudia: So, you mentioned Pin Cushion, which was just exceptional. You were nominated for best newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards. I don’t know how to describe it, it’s a kind of coming-of-age film but in a dark, twisted, fairy-tale context. Does that do it justice?
Lily: Yeah, you’ve got it. That’s the gist of it. A lot of the experiences that Iona has in the film; I’ve experienced myself. You know, not verbatim, in terms of the script, but pretty similar.
Claudia: I should say that there’s unpleasant bullying within the film. So, is that what you’re referring to in your life experiences?
Lily: Yeah. And feeling like an outcast.
Claudia: So, that’s quite a scarring experience, the feeling of being bullied. Did that help you emotionally connect with the film or was it actually quite triggering?
Lily: It worked to my advantage in a lot of ways because I didn’t have to dig too deep in order to engage with those emotions. But also, I was dealing with a lot of unresolved traumas that came to the surface. I probably should have considered dealing with a few of those issues beforehand because I don’t know how healthy it is to use acting as a therapy session!
Claudia: You strike me as someone who wants to stand for something. So, being able to make a stand against bullying through your work must have on some level been quite cathartic really?
Lily: Yeah. That’s the word that I always use for that experience, cathartic. I came out the end of it really having a great understanding for how I feel about all the issues that we touched on, especially bullying. And I think, not consciously, but becoming an advocate for anti-bullying and speaking out about mental health made me so proud to have portrayed Iona. I then became a sort of spokesperson, which does come with responsibilities…
Claudia: You mentioned working with diverse casts, and another of your very memorable parts has been in Sex Education. It is so brilliant at capturing that amazing teenage awkwardness with a sense of nostalgia and humor. And it’s a real ensemble cast piece isn’t it?
Lily: Yeah, I don’t really feel that there’s any better project to be a part of right now than Sex Education. it’s speaking from young adults’ voices which I think, more and more so, people are listening to these days.
Claudia: So, you’re out in Cursed, this next big Netflix hit, and having looked at the trailer again, it’s got a magical quality to it and it looks really epic in scale. To me, it looked like it might be filling a void left by Game of Thrones?
Lily: Yeah, I think it will be entertaining for people who are a fan of fantasy shows, it definitely doesn’t have the sort of sort-core porn aspect that perhaps Game of Thrones fulfils for a lot of people.
Claudia: Ooo, I won’t watch it now I don’t think…laugh
Lily: Yeah, there’s no point now!
Claudia: So, your lockdown has been tougher than most because you, poor thing, have actually had Covid. So, how have you been recovering, what have you been doing to get well and keep yourself occupied?
Lily: Yeah, it took a while for me to shake it off, I had it before lockdown and it was before they’d listed all the symptoms that they now know of. I just wasn’t really sure what I was experiencing but it was the sickest I’d ever been. I still don’t have my smell back which is annoying. It’s taken a while for me to get up and running again.
Claudia: So, I wanted to ask about the fashion world. I’ve seen you in beautiful shoots and you’ve been a muse for Chanel… has that given you a taste for luxury clothes and designer fashion or is that not something that’s important to you?
Lily: I’m massively appreciative of high fashion, because a lot of it translates to me as costumes, they’re not realistic pieces of clothing for most lifestyles.
Claudia: What, you’re not wafting around your kitchen in haute couture?
Lily: Only on special occasions! But yeah, in the context of photoshoots or red carpets, they’re great. Because you can transform with the pieces.
Claudia: I think if you view clothes as a costume, they can make you feel like you’ve got your armor on that day or you’re playing a certain part and it can give you a certain level of confidence.
Lily: Absolutely. And not to say that I have a personality disorder, but I certainly feel that I don’t have one personality when it comes to how I see myself. I could be a sort of medieval pixie one day, the next I could be an athletic tomboy, or I could wear a suit jacket out.
Claudia: Well, we’re so grateful to you for speaking so eloquently about your career and I really hope that you continue to feel much better, and the fatigue goes away and you’re up and firing again soon.
Lily: Me, too. Thank you so much, it’s been so nice talking to you. You’ve been lovely.
Claudia: Thank you, Lily, and we wish you every success with Cursed.