‘I spent six years working to get to this place’: Every part I do know About Love actor Marli Siu | Tv & radio


The Scottish-Chinese language actor Marli Siu seems out of nowhere, calls my title, and hugs me. We’re in Camden, north London, close to to the place Siu lives. We’d agreed to satisfy at a Kurdish café she loves however it’s closed for the vacations – “good for them!” we agree – so she takes me to a pub close by as an alternative. On the way in which to our assembly, Siu’s Uber driver had been indignant, clearly not having an excellent day, and the expertise had taken it out of Siu. “I used to be simply going to have a tea,” she tells me. “However now I’m like, I want a beer!”

We’re assembly to debate the BBC adaptation of Dolly Alderton’s bestselling memoir Every part I Know About Love, through which Siu stars. The sequence follows 24-year-old Maggie and the three mates with whom she shares a home – additionally in Camden – the place debauchery, feminine friendship and a variety of rising up happen. Siu performs Nell, one in every of Maggie’s mates, a instructor in a stable-seeming relationship who takes on the function of recommendation giver, till issues change into clear that every one shouldn’t be what it appears.

Siu has been working solidly as an actor for years, mixing theatre with movie and tv work. You may need seen her on a “stars of tomorrow” checklist (she’s been on a number of). Her theatrical work has been acclaimed and award-nominated (she most not too long ago appeared in The Ocean on the Finish of the Lane, on the Nationwide). And he or she’s starred in three function movies, together with an intense, partaking efficiency as a pregnant teenager in Run, by Scottish director Scott Graham, for which she received Finest Actress at Bafta Scotland final 12 months.

Marli Siu wears mini dress, heels, hoops and rings, all by dior.com
Take a bow: Marli Siu wears mini gown, heels, hoops and rings, all by dior.com. {Photograph}: Jane Mcleish-Kelsey/The Observer

However Every part I Know About Love feels completely different – that it could be one thing like an enormous break. Siu had purchased the e-book in a bookshop trawl simply earlier than one of many lockdowns – her mates had been followers – and she or he says there was an pleasure within the air in the course of the shoot. “They constructed the set – our front room, our kitchen, our bedrooms – and to me it felt fairly iconic. It felt like: ‘That is our home, that is the women’ home.’” The sequence was put collectively rapidly, on a decent turnaround, and continues to be being edited for launch after we meet. “I received a reminiscence at present on my telephone,” Siu says, explaining how rapidly the manufacturing moved. “You recognize, when it goes, ‘This picture was taken a 12 months in the past.’ And it was the tape I did with my good friend for the primary audition…”

I ask if her life is something just like the one she portrays on display. Not likely, she says, although: “The present is ready in your early 20s, [a period that] for me, and I believe for lots of people, was actually onerous.” At the start of her profession, Siu commuted by bus to London from her Scottish residence for auditions. When she received her first components, in 2016, she moved right into a “chaos home” in Walthamstow, east London. “I received provided a task on a Friday,” she recollects, “and as I stayed at my good friend’s over the weekend, I received on [flatshare website] SpareRoom. A good friend from Scotland was searching for a spot as nicely – she was doing an unpaid internship, so she had no cash – and by Monday I’d discovered us a flat, a nine-bedroom home, as in very unlawful.”

In Scotland, “Everybody was white,” she continues, “so being Asian was completely different. However on this home, my good friend, who’s half-Spanish, was the whitest individual there. Abruptly, as an illustration, I might converse to the Thai woman downstairs about cooking. In London you could be from wherever and really feel such as you’re from there.” She later found that one in every of her housemates dealt medication, and since so many individuals got here out and in of the home, issues began disappearing. The doorways had been ultimately padlocked, so Siu would carry a screwdriver round together with her in case she forgot her keys. “On the time, I used to be like, ‘That is London dwelling!’” she says. “I used to be simply so excited.”

Marli Siu with Mark Stanley in Run.
Award winner: with Mark Stanley in Run, a efficiency which received Siu Finest Actress at Bafta Scotland. {Photograph}: Verve Footage

The daughter of a Scottish mom and a Chinese language father, Siu lived in Hong Kong till she was 4, then grew up in Forres, a city in north Scotland, together with her mom and 4 sisters. The best way she describes it, Siu’s youth was bucolic. The reminiscences she has of Hong Kong are of “little issues – the meals, the markets, how I used to be all the time barefoot, me and my sisters would play exterior loads”. The household lived on Lamma Island, off Hong Kong “which is kind of hippy”. (Siu describes her mom as “like an enormous hippy”.) “Hong Kong island is so completely different, fast-paced, filled with large buildings. Lamma was a bit extra gradual paced. I want I might return extra. As soon as we moved to Scotland, we had been too little, and my mum had the remainder of my sisters, so she couldn’t actually take us again. However the reminiscences I do have of it are joyful.”

In Scotland, Siu loved artwork and dance lessons, however it wasn’t till she got here throughout an area drama group, at 15, that she found performing. “I didn’t realize it was a job, nobody in my household did it. In highschool I assumed I wished to go to artwork faculty and I went to an open day and ended up within the movie division and requested the place they received the actors from. As soon as I went to uni and began doing scholar brief movies, I used to be like, ‘That is what I wish to do.’”

Siu’s mom all the time rented properties, and the household moved round loads, with out altering colleges. “We all the time lived fairly far out from the place the city was,” Siu recollects. “It was humorous how once I was youthful I completely trusted my mum. If you happen to had an evening out, there was no taxi – my mum would are available in her nighty and be like: ‘You’d higher be out by 11pm on the dot or I’m coming in!’ It was a stunning childhood, however typically I believe I’ve not received one of the best social expertise, or I get drained from socialising quick, as a result of we grew up in such distant locations.”

Marli Siu with Samuel Blenkin in The Ocean at the End of The Lane at the National.
Stage hand: in The Ocean on the Finish of The Lane on the Nationwide. {Photograph}: Manuel Harlan

All of it sounds a bit Little Girls, I say. She laughs: “That’s so true! And we used to placed on performs. My huge sister wouldn’t do them, however my youthful sisters and my cousins would. So I’d write them and I’d make them do dances, and… I can’t bear in mind what they had been about however they all the time adopted the identical construction the place one in every of my sisters was all the time the baddie and one in every of my cousins was all the time the princess.”

Has she saved the performs?

“I had a pocket book the place I wrote them down, however we moved a lot that I don’t know the place a variety of issues are. I believe that due to this combination of being combined race and shifting a lot, and in addition as a result of my mum lives in a unique a part of Scotland now, there was positively a component of feeling rootless, and not likely realizing the place I got here from for fairly a very long time.”

All through our time collectively, Siu repeats that she has been speaking by comparable points together with her sister or mates who’re additionally actors and folks of color. Rising up in a really white atmosphere, she hadn’t given a lot thought to the truth that she’s half Chinese language till she began performing. “You by no means see your self in a field as a human, usually, however inside the performing trade they should have you ever in bins, and abruptly it’s sort of compelled upon you to consider that.” She frightened about getting work as a result of she hadn’t seen lots of people who seemed like her on display. She thought-about altering her surname at first, right into a Western one, although she’s glad she didn’t. “You’re younger and impressionable and also you simply wish to do nicely,” she says, by means of rationalization. “I grew up with not a variety of illustration on display, and round a variety of white folks, so there wasn’t actually a task mannequin for me to aspire to.”

That hyperlinks to a different nervousness: “I fear speaking about this, as a result of there are [Asian] actors that got here earlier than me, whom the trade was a lot tougher for. And black actors who’ve fought for area on this trade… They’re the one purpose there are components for folks like me.” Siu finds it onerous to debate subjects like this, “as a result of typically the sincere reality is that it’s not all the time that a lot better. Generally you simply really feel actually indignant on the trade, and also you by no means wish to come throughout as indignant or bitter, so I attempt to deal with the place we’ve received to, however there’s a lot additional it must go.”

Marli Siu in Everything I Know About Love.
Star flip: in Every part I Know About Love. {Photograph}: BBC/PA

It has been essential for her up to now to examine different actors’ experiences. “Interviews I’ve learn with Asian actors or black actors speaking in regards to the struggles, what it was like working on this trade, I’ve saved them.” It meant loads, she says, to have another person “co-sign” your expertise. “You then’re like: oh, I’m not mad.”

It has helped to stay in London and discover different people who find themselves experiencing comparable issues. In a latest dialog with an actor who can also be Asian and biracial (a chat that felt “therapeutic”, Siu says), they shared experiences through which casting administrators had tried to attract on their faces. “Her casting director informed her to return in with ‘extra Asian-shaped eyes’,” Siu says. “And mine, within the room, she was like, ‘You don’t look that Chinese language.’ I stated, ‘Nicely, I’m combined race.’ And he or she was like, ‘Nicely, do you’ve got any make-up to make your eyes look extra Asian?’” Her intestine response in these conditions has been to chuckle, and it’s only later that the expertise sinks in. Siu informed the casting director that she didn’t have any make-up together with her, “and she or he stated, ‘I’ve received eyeliner. I’ll do it.’ I used to be like, Oh my God! Is that this lady going to attract on my face? Fortunately, she couldn’t discover any.”

Siu is in her late 20s. “There’s no level doing an interview and making an attempt to return throughout like I’ve received right here very easy,” she says. “It’s not useful to anybody to airbrush your expertise.” She mentions, a number of occasions, that the truth that this interview is going on now and never sooner in her profession is partly resulting from the truth that she has reached some extent the place she will afford a publicist. “I went to uni and spent six years working to make sufficient cash to get to this place – and to get ok [at the craft.] It takes the time it takes.”

Siu says she’s now actually having fun with life – doing good work, with an excellent group of mates, and may exit and purchase good drinks, and afford to go on vacation. Is she prepared for all of it to alter if Every part I Know About Love turns into successful? She shrugs. “I believe I’ve had so many roles the place my mates have been like” – she mock-gasps, mimicking her mates imagining her impending stardom – “after which that by no means occurs. And even that time period, ‘well-known’, that’s so bizarre. I don’t know if I’m being naive. My hope is that individuals prefer it – and that I’ll get masses extra auditions.”

Every part I Know About Love airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

Trend editor Jo Jones; photographer’s assistant Kayla Connors; trend assistant Peter Bevan; hair by Nao Kawakami at The Wall Group; make-up by Kenneth Soh at The Wall Group utilizing Kat Von D Magnificence and FaceGym Skincare


Supply hyperlink