Aisling Bea for Stylist magazine

Aisling Bea exclusive: the This Way Up creator on the women she owes a debt of gratitude to

With the upcoming release of This Way Up on Channel 4, comic, actor and writer Aisling Bea talks success, gratitude and forgetting her own CV with Stylist

Aisling Bea has had quite the 16 months. While most of us were completing Netflix and thinking/talking about bread, Bea has written, filmed and starred in series two of her brilliant, Bafta award-winning sitcom, This Way Up, about a woman rebuilding her life after a breakdown, which returns to Channel 4 next week.

No wonder, then, it slipped her mind that she also starred in one of the biggest dramas of 2020 alongside Sian Clifford and Michael Sheen. “Some people are in things which are the water cooler moment,” says Bea, who appears on the cover of Stylist this week, which you can buy here. “Like when I did Quiz, which came out last year. I was like, This looks good’. I forgot I was in it.” She’s not wrong; the drama was brilliant! 

This Way Up on Channel 4
This Way Up on Channel 4

Bea has been in the entertainment world since graduating from drama school appearing in dramas like The Fall panel shows including 8 Out of 10 Cats and stand-up. But the release of the hit Channel 4 comedy that also stars Sharon Horgan as her sister, Shona, has pushed her into a whole new realm of fame – one that also means enduring tiresome tabloid articles about your jumpsuit. 

But she says that getting this recognition now, rather than when she was in her 20s, is a blessing in disguise. It should also act as a soothing reminder, for anyone that needs to hear it, that life doesn’t end at 25, despite what social media might have us believe. “I do worry that if I’d gotten something at 21-22 that I might have had the smorgasbord of personality traits to become a bit of a dickhead.”   

Aisling Bea in Stylist magazine
Aisling Bea in Stylist magazine

And while her success is down to her own hard graft, Bea tells Stylist it’s crucial to recognize the women that came before her and smashed the glass ceiling that said women aren’t funny.

 “I have that [success] because of the female stands-ups I look up to, who didn’t get the privilege I have, because of the doors they broke down,” she muses. “I owe a debt of gratitude to people like Annie Mumolo who wrote Bridesmaids with Kirsten Wiig; Amy Schumer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus… The reason I can do my job is because they proved that women were marketable in a large way. Those sorts of performances do so much: so you don’t have to fight to prove yourself. It means things open up so you can get through in another way.” 

You can buy your issue of Stylist here to read Aisling’s interview in full where she talks about creating the critically acclaimed drama, how she’s protected her own mental health over the last year and the power of mini-friendships. 

Images: Channel 4, Billie Scheepers