Jessie for ‘British Vogue’

Written by admin on April 25 2021

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie & Buffalo Trainers: ‘Shadow And Bone’ Star Jessie Mei Li Shares Her Favourite Things

“I loved Alina from the first time I went into the audition room,” says 25-year-old English-Chinese actor Jessie Mei Li, of taking on the role of Alina Starkov in Netflix’s forthcoming fantasy drama Shadow and Bone, released on 23 April. Based on the bestselling series of novels by Leigh Bardugo, the main shift from the cult books is that Starkov (a cartographer with a “legendary mythical ability to summon sunlight, who is going to change the world”) is written as being of mixed heritage. “Growing up, I wish I had seen more faces like mine,” says Li, who is currently based in Bristol. Before acting – Shadow and Bone marks Li’s first major on-screen role – she worked as a teaching assistant in a secondary school. She says, “I could sit down and talk to someone who was having a hard time and say, ‘I get it, I went through this, too.’” Her character sounds similarly relatable. “Alina is someone who doesn’t necessarily understand herself at first,” but as the show goes on she gains “agency and doesn’t let people take advantage of her. We need more heroines like that.”

“The Chinese side of my family is big on skincare. They are always telling me to wear sunscreen. The one I’m using at the moment is Pai British Summer Time SPF – I use it every day.”

“Bristol has lots of amazing vintage and charity shops, such as The Vintage Thrift Store. I love the excitement of finding a little gem. I have quite a collection of second-hand Buffalo trainers.”

“Every time I see a dress by The Vampire’s Wife, I think about how I want to wear that all the time. I’d go to the grocer down the road wearing one.”

“I don’t think you can really compare yourself or try to be the next someone, but there are actors, such as Frances McDormand, who I look up to.”

“No one wears a cheongsam quite like Maggie Cheung in In the Mood for Love. I hope to look that elegant one day.”

“I love jewellery, and I’ve been wearing one necklace since I was a baby. It has my Chinese zodiac sign, the pig, on it.”

“When we went to Budapest to film Shadow and Bone, you could often find the whole cast in The Workshop cocktail bar. It was like being on a hilarious school holiday. It was such a precious time.”

“I’ve not done as much reading as I should like recently, but I am making my way through some Sherlock Holmes. I love mystery novels.”

“I’m not the biggest cineaste, but I love film. I think a lot about the ones I watched in childhood, like Lord of the Rings and Pan’s Labyrinth. My brother and I were big into those epic fantasies, quite like Shadow and Bone, when we were young.”

“East-Asian food is the go-to for me — things that are so easy to make delicious and exciting, like Thai curries. I also like just veganising the things I grew up eating, like shepherd’s pie made with alternatives. That’s really good.”

Leave a Reply