Marisa Abela wants to make one thing clear: She’s never asked to do fewer sex scenes. In her role as Yasmin Kara-Hanani, Industry’s publishing heiress-turned-investment banker, she spent much of Season 1 exploring sado-masochistic power dynamics with a colleague — but in the show’s second season, Yasmin has less sex, and Abela appears nude less often. “I think people assume that when you talk about questions in terms of intimacy and nudity, the question is always, ‘Can I do less of it? Can I wear more clothes?’” Abela, 25, tells Bustle. “For me that’s not actually what it is. I enjoy people feeling empowered physically and sexually through Yasmin. I’m proud of that. I just had less of it this time around.”
That doesn’t mean she didn’t speak up, though — she just had different concerns about performing in intimate scenes, and felt empowered to express them this time around. Last season, “If the action was, you are going to choke him, I would say, ‘Okay, that’s fine.’ Whereas this time, if the action is something like that, I want to ask the question, ‘Why?’ I want to ask, ‘Is there a way that we can do this scene that is safe for the audience and for me?’” Unlike Yasmin, who channels her feelings of inferiority at work into taking control in the bedroom, Abela feels comfortable taking charge at work. It’s one of many things that distinguished Abela from her anxious, people-pleasing character, who isn’t exactly an enlightened feminist. As Abela wryly points out, “I’m not Yasmin.”
Instead, Abela is an ambitious actor with eyes on a varied career. Though she initially resisted following in the footsteps of parents (her mother is an actor and her father is a director), and considered working as a human rights lawyer, she soon realized she was destined for the stage. After graduating from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2019, she broke out with her role in Industry. She’ll next show off her acting chops in new movies ranging from the crime thriller Rogue Agent to Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. “I think that that’s what it’s all about for me,” she says. “Creating a repertoire of incredibly different parts. And everyone would say, ‘Oh, I didn’t think she would do that.’”
Get to know more about Abela — including her acting idol — in her Bustle Booth questionnaire below.
In The Bustle Booth
What’s your coffee order?
Anything iced right now, because London is melting.
What are the saved weather locations on your phone?
London, Brighton, Malta, Paris.
What’s your sign?
Sagittarius sun, Leo rising and moon in Scorpio. (I don’t really do much with that information but I do love the whole hoo ha.)
Favorite overused movie quote?
“Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
Babar! About the elephant. Honestly, I don’t know if it actually was my favorite at the time but it’s my favorite thing to see memorabilia of now. It’s just one of those things that really viscerally takes me back to my childhood.
What’s one movie or TV show you’re currently obsessed with?
In terms of TV, I’m in the middle of Severance with my flatmate (late to the party I know) and we’re loving it. The film of the year is still Worst Person in the World for me, I just found it so beautiful and so true.
Who is your celeb idol?
For obvious reasons, everything comes back to Meryl Streep. But a big shoutout to Fran Leibowitz, always.
If you had to be on a reality TV show, what would it be?
Oh, definitely a Real Housewife [show]. I love to watch Beverly Hills — I mean, it’s gold. But I think I’d want to be in the New York franchise. Thank GOD for Bravo.
Go-to karaoke song?
“Piece of my Heart,” Janis Joplin.
What’s something that’s inspiring you lately?
Feeling like I’m seizing the day inspires me. How much energy I put into life seems to be pretty equal to how much I get out of it.
What is something you would want people to say about you?
For friends and family, that they can feel I love them deeply. For people that know me through work, I want them to feel that I’m good at what I do. That’s what it’s all about for me.