TV has been an emotional crutch for so many of us over the last 11 months. Offering us everything from escapism to challenging how we think about the world – as well as granting us a window into a different one – it’s an opportunity to reflect on a life we once lived.
And one of the shows to get us through the tough times has been Industry. The BBC drama about a group of ambitious young graduates vying for jobs at an investment bank careered onto our TV screens at the end of last year, giving us a heady glimpse of office – and after-hours – life at full tilt.
One of the stars of the show is Marisa Abela who plays Yasmin, a bright young thing who is often dismissed by her colleagues, despite being smart and ambitious, purely for the fact of being a woman. And Marisa stars on the cover of Stylist this week, which you can download on the App Store or Google Play.
The eight-part drama written by former city workers Konrad Kay and Micky Down – the first episode of which was directed by Lena Dunham – has been particularly, perhaps surprisingly, successful at shifting the depiction of female desire on screen.
The female characters – as well as the men – ask for what they want, and usually get it. From Harper (played by the brilliant Myha’la Herrold) initiating sex with a one-night stand because she really wants sex with an English man to Yasmin telling Robert (Harry Lawton), who she flirts with all series, to eat his own semen, the women in Industry enjoy sex and orgasms and aren’t afraid to express their desire. And as in life, the sex isn’t softly lit, with artfully draped sheets, sometimes it happens in toilets and isn’t always mutually satisfying and Industry represents that authentically.
“I loved the line when Yasmin says to her boyfriend [who is no longer having sex with her] ‘I’m a sexual person, you nearly killed that in me,’” Abela tells Stylist. “It’s important for viewers, especially women, to feel comforted and to know how important female desire is, and really going after what it is that you want. It’s her with the audience pushing these boundaries of what women can ask for and what Robert is willing to give to her. I think that’s incredibly empowering to see on screen.”
She also reveals that playing Yasmin taught her some important lessons about seizing power in her own life: “I would write emails and then think, ‘I sound like Yas is writing that’. I’d go back and take out the ‘just’, ‘please’, ‘sorry’ or the exclamation marks that I put in so people know I’m being friendly,” reveals Abela. “Forcefulness is something I’ve always struggled with. What’s the line between what’s forceful and what’s aggressive? I’m trying to figure that out now and I definitely would have come to that later if it hadn’t been for Yasmin.”
Luckily, Abela will have plenty more opportunities to learn from Yasmin as the show has already been commissioned for series two after a successful debut in both the UK and US.
But what can we expect? “It’s still in the ether: it’s happening for sure, but just not quite yet. It’s a little further into the future,” says Abela when we press her for details. “I don’t know what will happen to Yasmin yet, but I’m super excited about it and so are the writers, they keep saying: ‘You’re going to love it’. There’s so many places she could go. It will be so great to see.”