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Industry’s Marisa Abela Wants to See Yasmin Knocked Down a Peg

Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

HBO’s Industry is rife with characters you should love to hate, specifically Marisa Abela’s Yasmin, the multilingual heir to a publishing fortune with a taste for luxury accommodations, cocaine, fancy footwear, and a “juicy chilled red.” In season two, Yas is scheming to move from the trading floor at fictional bank Pierpoint into personal-wealth management, where her family’s money is an asset she can bring to the firm, rather than a source of resentment for her fellow strivers. She’s lured into this division by the seductive Celeste (Katrine De Candole), an older Frenchwoman who sees Yas as both a mentee and a plaything. But on a work trip to Berlin, complete with heavy partying alongside frenemy Harper (Myha’la Herrold), Yas gets a shock while visiting her former nanny, who implies that Yas’s father had impregnated her.

With her stench of entitlement, Yas should be insufferable, but Abela injects a gentle wistfulness into her that cuts through the privilege. Yas’s desire to be liked and respected feels almost painfully raw, whether she’s trying to win over new clients or untangling the knots of her past.

After the trip to Berlin, what is Yas’s relationship to her wealth?
I think when Maxim (Nicholas Bishop) shares with her that her money may not be as stable as she thinks it is, it’s the first time Yas has ever had to question her relationship to wealth. I don’t think she notices when she gets paid despite the fact that it’s quite a big paycheck. It doesn’t matter. When she started to doubt whether her father had reliable finances, that was when she was like, Oh my God, what would it be like to not have money? It’s honestly the first time she thought that. Then she realizes the money she does have is a bit dirty. The reason she’s so emotional, other than the drugs, when she meets the nanny is because suddenly she’s thinking, Wow, my father and therefore my lifestyle is really gross. That’s really the problem Yasmin is struggling with: Can I still dip into this pot if the pot is filthy?

What was it like filming that scene opposite Yasmin’s former nanny? You had to be so emotional while coming down from a crazy high.
If it’s an emotional scene, that’s not the issue. It’s when you have something very real to play at the same time, which is: You are on a substance. This is real because it’s the most important thing happening in Yasmin’s life right now. But more real than the idea of her father’s infidelity and potential pedophilia is the fact that her head is pounding and she feels scared and paranoid and her heart’s beating really fast. Those are the scenes where I feel most self-conscious as an actor when I watch them back.

What’s behind Yasmin’s drive to get into personal-wealth management and her intense relationship with Celeste?
Yasmin wants to go where she is valued. That’s the bottom line. She wants to go where she feels like she could be good at her job. I don’t think she has been very good at her job up until now. You can blame other people, like Kenny, but then she was just like, Oh, fuck it. I don’t have to worry about it.

She sees Celeste and thinks, I could do that. I could be that person, and is attracted to that possibility of who Yasmin could be, this fully realized version of Yasmin, which is: I am sexy and successful, and I don’t have to hide any facets of who I am. In fact, they are the things that are going to make me fantastic at this job, which Celeste does really well. At some moments, Yasmin is trying to mimic her; some moments, she’s trying to seduce her. Yasmin’s relationship to Celeste is incredibly narcissistic at its core.

With Celeste, there’s this weird tension of intense sexual chemistry but also the power dynamic of an older boss and a younger recruit. How do you approach playing those scenes with Katrine De Candole?
Having a female mentor for Yasmin was really important, and the fact that Yasmin still manages to sexualize her is hilarious but equally Yasmin. Part of the reason Yasmin feels comfortable around Celeste is because Celeste is clearly objectifying Yasmin, and Yasmin is very comfortable being objectified because it’s another place where she feels she holds value. They give that to each other.

In episode four, that scene where Katrine drops the note and is like, “Pick it up” — this is the first time we’ve seen Yasmin be a sub in a sexual relationship. It’s fantastic. And it would only ever happen with a woman. Katrine is crazy to work with because you never know what she’s going to do, and I think you can see that onscreen. She’s quite difficult to read. Yasmin is the most on her toes she has ever been around Celeste.

Based on Instagram, it seems like you and Myha’la Herrold are close. What was it like traveling to Berlin with her?
It was so much fun. We’ve traveled together before as Marisa and Myha’la but not with the show. We weren’t filming in Berlin until Tuesday, but we cheekily asked if we could fly out on Friday, so we got the weekend in Berlin beforehand. I’m so glad we did because I would’ve felt a little bit cheated as Marisa and Myha’la if we hadn’t had a similar experience to Yasmin and Harper in Berlin.

How do you think about depicting the world of wealth Yasmin moves through?
I went to an incredibly privileged school, but I was on a scholarship and a bursary and didn’t really come from money. I learned very early on how to pretend like I knew what I was doing in those circles. I must have been 11 years old, and I lived in a tiny bungalow in a village called Rottingdean. For my birthday, my best friend at the time picked me up in her chauffeured Bentley, drove me to Harrods, and her dad met us there and said, “Pick anything you want. Happy birthday.” I was so scared and terrified. I went to the dog section, the animal section — it was near Christmas — and I picked up a dog stocking. I was like, “I really want this for my dog.” I’m so mad at myself now when I think about it, but it was overwhelming. He was like, “No, you can have anything.” And I was like, “No, this is what I want.” So I went home with that, and I remember sort of saying to my mum, “This school is going to be crazy.” She was like, “I’ve made a terrible mistake sending you to this school.”

I didn’t want to feel like an outsider in those spaces, so I learned like, Okay, how do they dress? What do they like to talk about? It’s been so important to me in my adolescent life to feel comfortable in those spaces. Now I go up for parts like this quite often. It’s so fun to play these women. They dress amazingly. They have incredible houses. I get all of that fun stuff. But I think it takes an outsider to see how vulnerable Yasmin’s privilege makes her.

What are your hopes for Yas?
I want her to start being professional. I want her to start working really hard. I want her to eat a little humble pie, just enough so that she can be sweet. I think there is a sweetness in her. We’ve seen it before. She’s decided that sweetness doesn’t help her, so she’s got rid of it completely. I don’t think she needs to do that. I think she can bring a little bit of that vulnerability back. She needs to be knocked down one peg and then work her way back up again.

Industry’s Marisa Abela Wants Yasmin Knocked Down a Peg