22nd April 2022
Photographer & Editor in Chief: Owen James Vincent
Interview: Jordan Arthur
Make Up Artist: Jessica McQuaid
Hairstylist: Silas Baiden
Styling: Monique Yates
Logo Design & Illustration: Emily Curtis
Yasmin Finney is about to take the internet by storm as she stars as Elle in the much-anticipated Netflix show Heartstopper. In this ReVamp cover, Yasmin joins us to talk all about her character, trans representation, and ambitions for the future.
Yasmin is wearing: Top & Skirt - Samudaystudios / Corset - Zara / Shoes - Ego / Jewellery - Retro Chic' & MNYSTYLING
We have to start by talking about Heartstopper, the brand-new Netflix show in which you’re staring as Elle. The show already has so much hype thanks to the beloved comics by Alice Oseman. How does it feel to be stepping into a world that so many people hold so dear?
It feels really, really good. I’m just so happy I get to bring Elle to life because too many times we see cis people playing trans roles and taking away the opportunity and credit. But I’m just so happy and thankful Alice saw Elle in me. I’m so grateful to the whole Heartstopper cast and everybody involved.
It was crazy stepping into this world; Alice Oseman’s universe that she’s been building since 2012. I wanted to make sure I was doing the best I could and making sure the representation was there in me. I really do relate to Elle, so by being myself on set and not acting in a way, the authenticity would be there.
Yasmin is wearing: Top - Samudaystudios / Corset & Skirt - Zara / Shoes - Ego / Jewellery - Retro Chic' & MNYSTYLING
When we meet Elle in the first episode, she’s not long moved over to the girl’s school, having previously been at Truham with Tao, Charlie, and Isaac. The fact that Elle living authentically would also mean this other big change for her, away from her friends and support – do you think that would be an extra challenge for her on top of everything else, or could moving to the girl’s school actually be somewhat affirming or maybe even safer?
That’s such an amazing question. For me, the reason I loved playing Elle so much is because she moved high schools which I actually did too. I also moved high schools because I was bullied and because of my hair length, and it’s the same with Elle – she was expelled for her hair.
And it was just a lot for me. When I moved schools, it was to another mixed school but for Elle to move at 16/17 from an all-boys to an all-girls school… I had the option to do that but I wasn’t confident enough yet. I didn’t yet know what was going on and what was in my head. It’s just a lot of anxiety to be around a whole new gender exclusively.
I just really admire Elle for her confidence and bodaciousness to move to a new all-girls school and I feel like it can provide safety because it’s normalising your trans experience which I think is important.
In other shows, the LGBT+ experience can just about the pain and fear – whereas here, without ignoring bullying and ignorance, it’s the love and friendship and acceptance at the fore (I’m just remembering a scene with Elle and Tao’s mum that melts my heart). It’s refreshing to see as a viewer but it must also be very refreshing for you as an actor?
Yeah, absolutely. I love that scene with Tao’s mum! It was just really good because, for me, I don’t want Heartstopper to be just for queer people to watch. I want everyone to watch it; parents, family members. I actually want homophobic people to see it just so they’re educated.
That scene that you mentioned, with Tao’s mum, that just perfectly normalises and shows parents that you can just accept. She doesn’t even bring up the fact that Elle’s trans, she was just so accepting and open and lovely. It’s so natural and fluid and that’s what parents should take in and learn from. Learn from Tao’s mum.
According to the Heartstopper Wikia, Elle’s favourite movie is Moonrise Kingdom (a great film my brother gave me for Christmas, as it happens). But what is Yasmin’s favourite movie and why?
That’s a good question. My favourite movie would have to be The Princess and the Frog, just because I genuinely relate to Princess Tiana in that she has to work so much harder, and the work paying off in the end.
I guess I just love the love story between her and the frog, it’s so romantic. Love is deeper than looks – it truly comes down to personality and getting to know someone for who they really are. It’s just so wholesome. I’ve been watching it since I was like 10. As soon as it came out in cinemas, my babysitter took me to see it and I would just cry… I still watch it to this day.
Yasmin is wearing: Top, Corset & Trousers - Zara / Shoes - Ego / Jewellery - Retro Chic' & MNYSTYLING
Finally, what are some of your ambitions for the future? What would be a dream role or story that you’d love to tell?
Most of my work this year has been trans roles. And I think if we really want to implement change and create a more inclusive industry, it’s great that there’s more trans roles, but I would just love it if I could play a cis role and just tell a great story and not necessarily one that has to capitalise on my sexuality or gender orientation. I think it’s important trans people get equal opportunity at the cis roles as well as the trans roles.
You can catch Yasmin as Elle in Heartstopper on Netflix right now.