Who is Amy?
Amy is a 19-year-old who has just joined the industry when we meet her. It’s her first day on set and she’s never done porn before. She’s a very complicated girl: pretty naïve, quite an instinctive person and very elusive, there’s a lot of mystery about her. You never find out a lot about where she’s come from or what drew her to porn, although I think she sees it as a chance to rebel and reinvent herself. But nothing’s set in stone about her.
Was she an easy character to relate to?
When I first read her, every scene shocked me: I didn’t know what I was going to find out or what she was going to do. When I explored her more I realised that she’s running away from something, she has very low self-esteem which is why she’s almost rebranding her self and trying to take control. As a teen I could relate to the confusion, feeling like the only way to be seen is to be seen as sexual and desirable.
It’s an incredibly challenging role in all sorts of ways. Did you have reservations?
Never. Shaheen Baig is a brilliant casting director so when I was called in I knew that if she was on board, it must be great. They sent out a three-page description of the show, why and how they’re filming it, what they’re trying to say with it… You never get that with auditions, so that reassured me as well. When I told people I was doing a series about porn, people assumed there’d be loads of nudity but I’m not naked in it at all, and I certainly wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed to be playing a sex worker. It was a brilliant script with flawed, three-dimensional characters.
How was Hayley to work with?
Hayley was so lovely and helpful, looking out for me and always checking I was ok with sex scenes and so on. We got quite sisterly towards the end once she knew I could handle myself! And she’s such an incredible actor. She completely transformed herself into Jolene –watching her was a masterclass.
What kind of research did you do?
I watched every documentary I could get my hands on, read every article, listened to every podcast. Most of the things online that expose the industry, look at stats or talk to porn stars are about America. I watched as many interviews with young porn stars as I could, trying to find things about porn stars and the industry in Britain, but I was shocked by how little there was out there. No one over here wants to listen. We need to stop being so prudish because people in the industry might have things to say that are worth hearing.
Did you talk to Rebecca More?
Yeah, just meeting someone who works in porn was really useful. What was great was seeing how ordinary she is, although I don’t know how happy she might be with me saying that! But it’s a job for her, she has family and bills to pay, she goes on holidays, has friends… Hayley, Rebecca and I spent a day waking around in high heels, practising porn positions and faking porn orgasms. It was helpful to see someone who doesn’t seem to be destroyed by the industry, although she was honest about a lot of things, and we were respectful with our questions.
What did you think of Lucy’s take on the industry?
Nothing’s black and white, which is what I loved about the script. The characters and circumstances felt very real and you don’t come away from it feeling one way or the other. Hopefully it’ll make people start thinking about it and what we can do to keep people in the industry safe.