Wonderland.

SORCHA GROUNDSELL

The new superhuman Netflix heroine.

All clothing CHANEL COCO NEIGE.

All clothing CHANEL COCO NEIGE.

It’s the morning after England lost their World Cup semi-final, spirits in London are low and Sorcha Groundsell is telling me where she’d rather be. After some hurried deliberation she settles on shapeshifting into Meryl Streep, “just to be in her head and find out how she does her thing”. A solid choice.

With her sights set to reach the wisdom of Streep, Groundsell fondly names Ruth Negga — her co-star in 2015’s Brit drama, Iona — as the figure she’s learnt most from so far. “I didn’t have a headshot, I didn’t have an agent, I didn’t know my arse from my elbow; everything I know is from that first experience I had with her.” Since then the 20 year old has outgrown the emerging actor bracket, scooping features in a diverse handful of productions including BBC Three’s Clique (2017) and short film Sunday Tide (2018).

She’s currently leading as June in Netflix original series The Innocents, an eight-part sci-fi drama that follows a teenage couple on the run from two repressive families. Romeo and Juliet meets Stranger Things, the fantasy is quickly disrupted by the discovery that June has the ability to shape-shift into other people —probably even Streep if she’d be down for a cameo in season two. Her boyfriend Harry, played by old school CBBC favourite Percelle Ascott, gets quite the shock (spoiler) when he wakes up one day to his beloved caught in the body of a fully-grown man.

All clothing CHANEL COCO NEIGE.

All clothing CHANEL COCO NEIGE.

Despite her supernatural talents, Groundsell assures me that June is a character viewers, especially teenage girls, will resonate with. Granted, “this is going to sound weird because she’s a shapeshifter”, but “there’s something very universal about what she’s going through”. At first I’m unconvinced, but she explains that “the sci-fi element was just an extension of what every teenager feels, which is: ‘Who am I? Where is my place in the world?’” A complex and dynamic character, June’s a fitting role for Groundsell, who on social media frequently calls out the industry’s lack of realistic, fully drawn-out parts for women. Though unsettled by the fact that it’s still being debated, she insists wholeheartedly that, right now, “it’s all of our responsibilities to pipe up whenever we can”.

Growing up in Scotland’s Isle of Lewis, she looked to French cinema for a wider variety of female roles, an infatuation that’s developed “to a frightening degree”. “I’m a little bit obsessed,” she says, followed by a loud chuckle, “it’s a little bit weird.” Apart from a penchant for the romance of the language, her appreciation is rooted in the French film industry’s more experimental nature. As we bemoan the monotony of quick-turnaround projects dictated by profit, Groundsell tells me theirs is, “a very unconstrained way of working and creating ideas, everything’s very daring which I think we could all do with taking into our own work a little bit more.”

The natural next step, she’s set on writing and directing screenplays, though is modest about having much to learn before then. Her charm is self-effacing, but without compromising a firm confidence in what she’s doing and why. It’ll be a matter of claiming creative control over a project, to “be a part of this wave of female stories and female driven pieces”, and moreover, to “have a hand in what gets put out instead of just being a mouthpiece for other people’s ideas”. Catch me patiently awaiting her directorial debut.

Taken from the Autumn 2018 Issue; out now and available to buy here.

All clothing CHANEL COCO NEIGE.

All clothing CHANEL COCO NEIGE.

All clothing CHANEL COCO NEIGE.

All clothing CHANEL COCO NEIGE.
Photography
Reece & Dean
Fashion
Kamran Rajput
Words
Rosie Byers
Hair
Alex James using Bumble and Bumble
Makeup
Mattie White using Apotheosis - Le Mat de CHANEL and CHANEL Le Lif
Nails
All nails by Liga Tukmane at Carol Hayes Management using CHANEL Le Vernis in Monochrome and CHANEL La Crème Main
Set Design
Sonia Odedra
With thanks to
Auntie Sonia’s
SORCHA GROUNDSELL