Industry’s Marisa Abela Is in Control

Summer has officially ended for Industry’s Marisa Abela. “It’s, like, suddenly turned into winter,” she says, on a Zoom call from London. “Two weeks ago, I couldn’t sleep without a fan on in my room. And now it’s like—I’m getting up pretty early at the moment—it’s one of those things where it’s still dark outside, and I can’t get out of bed because I’m like, It’s so much colder out there than it is here.”

And like the recent drastic change in London weather, Abela’s life also seemingly changed overnight. The 25-year-old actor was finishing up her time at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts when she landed the plum as privileged and posh Yasmin Kara-Hanani, hard partying publishing heiress, on HBO’s British banking show Industry. “I’m so grateful that I went straight into work because you are at your most confident at the final year of drama school,” she says. “You’re a big fish in a small pond at that point. You feel like you can take off—you are not that self-conscious. And the enemy of acting is self-consciousness, right?”

A few days after Industry’s shocking season two finale, Abela sat down with V.F. to chat about the Industry finale, filming Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated Barbie movie, and one challenge she hasn’t tackled yet.

Vanity Fair: How do you feel Yasmin ends the season?

Marisa Abela: I think she’s really at rock bottom at the end of the season. It couldn’t get much worse for her. She literally says in episode four of this series, “I’ve never thought about not having money. Can you imagine what that would be like?” And Harper (My’hala Herrold) says, ”… yeah.” It’s quite shocking to see her knowing that she’s really entering the unknown. I think it’s a scary place for a bunch of reasons. The truth is that she probably earns a decent salary. So she’ll be fine when she figures out how to put her earnings into her own account.

Do you feel like Yasmin understands how she moves through the world? How her actions affect other people?

She doesn’t right now. The fact that she apologizes to Venetia (Indy Lewis) at the very end maybe means that she’s starting to realize that her actions have consequences, and that her consequences have consequences. You just have to look at her father to realize that for a lot of people their actions have consequences, but those consequences aren’t that bleak. If you have enough money, nothing really matters that much. Whereas when you suddenly don’t [have money], you have to take the consequences seriously.

Speaking of, her father Charles Hanani (Adam Levy) absolutely drags Yasmin in the season finale.

Oh my God. He reads her for filth for sure.

What was it like to film that scene?

I actually spoke to the writers a lot about that scene. We reworked those moments together slightly because it comes to head at that moment. Yasmin hasn’t actually articulated yet what it is about her father’s relationship with her nanny that she finds so repulsive. Obviously there’s an abuse of power and an age imbalance, but we know that she was legal. It was very important for me to clarify with the writers that Yasmin’s issue was, like, “When did you start to see her that way?” It’s difficult, I think, for a young woman who has been objectified by men her entire life to look her dad in the face and realize that’s what he’s been doing to women and she’s been privy to it her whole life.

But everything he says is true. “You go on 14 holidays a year and you send me the bill, you tap, tap, tap your little Coutts card through life,” which I just love. I think that’s such a good line. He didn’t lie, but it’s not what you want to hear from your dad.

What’s fascinating about Industry is its willingness to explore gray areas. We see this with Yasmin and her dad, but also with Yasmin and her mentor-turned-lover Celeste (Katrine De Candole). Would you say Yasmin is a victim in that situation?

I don’t think she’s a victim. I also don’t think she’s in control. In a lot of relationships that are sexual there’s usually one person that has more power in the situation than another—doesn’t necessarily mean that the other person is a victim. I think Yasmine quite likes the idea of being the other woman—someone that someone is breaking the rules for. In episode six, when Celeste tells Yasmine that she’s been given permission by her wife to be with her, suddenly the entire situation is completely unsexy and Yasmine wants nothing to do with it. [Yasmin] likes to be a prize rather than some sort of consolation situation.

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