How newcomer Marisa Abela took on the role of her life as Amy Winehouse



Amy Winehouse has a famous quote: “My hair is always straight, even if everything else is really messed up.” In fact, in that same 2007 interview, when asked about her hair, she leaned into the microphone as if she were going to answer the question itself.

It’s this attitude and this hair that makes it so hard to play Amy Winehouse. He was one of a kind, an icon in the truest sense and a cautionary tale of fame all in one.

That’s why people had a lot to say about her when 26-year-old Brighton-born actress Marisa Abela was announced as the star set to play Amy in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s new biography, Back to Black, which chronicles the singer’s life, career, and rise to superstardom. – and not all of them kind.

But who is the relatively newcomer Marisa Abela and how did she come to ‘blow up’ the directors chosen for one of the most volatile, sensitive roles in recent years? We take a look at the promising actor’s super-fast rise to fame.

Born to be an actor and born to be an actor

Abela in Industry with co-star Myhaéla Herrold (BBC/Bad Wolf Productions/Amanda Searle)

Abela in Industry with co-star Myha and Herrold (BBC/Bad Wolf Productions/Amanda Searle)

A hasty Google search might lead you to believe Marisa Abela is a legendary nepo doll. He was born in East Sussex, the son of Caroline Gruber and Angelo Abela, who worked in both the film and TV industries – Gruber is an actor and Abela is a director. Angelo Abela also owns a number of cult British children’s TV shows, directing episodes of shows like Jinx, The Mysti Show, and even an episode of My Parents Are Aliens. these children’s serials, you are wrong.

Abela admitted that she was mostly inspired by her mother. “My mom is an actress and she raised me and my brother to be single moms,” she said in a 2021 interview, so we spent a lot of time watching her perform in theaters’ dressing rooms and lightboxes, so it just kind of leaked out.

Abela wasn’t much of a child actor – in 2008, at age 11, she starred in a low-budget Brighton-based horror movie. would follow in their footsteps. Still, Abela had different ideas—she thought she was going to law school.

“Being a lawyer would be a rebellion for me,” he told W Magazine last year. “Growing up, I told them that this is what I wanted to do because whenever I was in a school play or show, they were both over the moon and ‘He’s going to do it!’ They were almost pushing each other. So I guess my way of rebelling was to pretend I was going to be a lawyer.”

exponential rise in fame

Finally, when she turned 18, Abela changed her mind. He rekindled his love of acting by playing in school plays at Brighton’s Roedean School and applied to the Rada after leaving, grabbing a place at age 19 and graduating in 2019. He graduated – first in the 2020 thriller Cobra, about a nationwide power outage, followed by the interactive feature film “Five Dates” and then the big break: Industry.

The HBO series centered around a group of graduates grappling with their new jobs at the ultra-elite, ultra-stressful firm Pierpoint & Co. was an instant hit and Abela’s performance was widely praised. Everything happened pretty quickly – a fact that he was unaware of. “If you had told me I would be working with Lena Dunham when I was 25. […] I would be curious,” he told W Magazine.

But as for the decision to play the Industry character Yasmin? He was completely sure of that. “I was in my last year of drama school when I got the script,” she says in one of her speeches. 2021 interview“It was maybe three episodes, and I was excited by the idea of ​​playing such a character,” he added, “and his tagline was ‘Vulnerability hidden by Prada,’ and I was… ‘God this is going to be so much fun.’”

Marisa Abela as Yasmin character in Industry (BBC / Bad Wolf / HBO)

Marisa Abela as Yasmin character in Industry (BBC / Bad Wolf / HBO)

The industry has been revamped for a second season, and Abela’s second serving of acting chops piqued his interest even more. It wasn’t long before it was revealed that she was starring in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie (2023) – perhaps the most extravagant movie of the year – alongside Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling and Ncuti Gatwa. But that wasn’t all. Other casting rumors were swirling in Hollywood halls and consisted of all but one name…


Amy Winehouse in 2007 (Getty Images)

Amy Winehouse in 2007 (Getty Images)

British director Sam Taylor-Johnson (who directed the first Fifty Shades Movie Nowhere Boy and was married to actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson) had been desperately trying to put on a biography about Amy Winehouse over the summer, eventually reaching Focus Features and Monumental Pictures in partnership with Studiocanal. . The next step was to find their leader.

Turns out Taylor-Johnson is a huge Amy Winehouse fan. “My connection with Amy began when I dropped out of college and was hanging out in London’s creatively diverse borough of Camden,” he told Deadline. “I got a job at the legendary Koko Club, and I can still breathe in every market stall, antique store, and street… A few years later, Amy wrote her burningly honest songs while living in Camden. Like me, it became part of her DNA. First I saw him perform at a talent show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho and it was immediately clear that he wasn’t just ‘talent’… he was a genius.”

Enter: Marisa Abela. It seems that the British actress “blew up” the directors, despite the fact that they met more than one actress for the role. Abela, who likes that Winehouse is Jewish, has kept quiet about the role until she finds out for sure. When insisted on this in a W Magazine interview, she refused to divulge details, but she said her fingers crossed.

Filming for the biopic began Monday, and the fully costumed paparazzi pictures of Abela alongside co-star Eddie Marsan have already proven divisive. People are overprotective of Amy – naturally they are, but it seems like Abela cares just as much. In her Instagram post with her costume, beehive and all, Amy quoted the singer’s 2008 Grammy acceptance speech: “And for London. This is for London. Because Camden Town is not on fire,” he added at last, “I love you Amy.”

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