Wonderland.

JASMINE JOBSON × SUPERDRY

The Top Boy actor talks the similarities she shares with her character Jaq, her recent collaboration with Superdry and what is next for her.

All photography taken from Rollacoaster’s SS22 issue. Jasmine Jobson wears Superdry.

All photography taken from Rollacoaster’s SS22 issue. Jasmine Jobson wears Superdry.

Jasmine Jobson covers Rollacoaster’s SS22 issue. Order your copy here

Jasmine Jobson is a force of nature – boundlessly energetic, enthusiastic, and fearless – both in our interview, and as the leading role Jaq in Netflix hit crime drama Top Boy. Having entered the care system in her teens, she enrolled in the Big House Theatre Company where she honed her talents for acting, singing, and dancing. Now, as she puts it, “the sky is not even the limit”.

But landing a star role and a BAFTA nomination isn’t going to make her rest on her laurels. Sitting down with Rollacoaster, the actress says “I think as a young black person, and this applies to any industry, not just the acting industry, we’re always going to have to work 100 times harder than anybody else. It’s as simple as that, so to now see that the industry is becoming more diverse doesn’t mean that we get to relax. No, we still need to work 100 times harder than everyone else, because now we need to be those people that make that stamp. Yes, the industry is opening up, and you’ve got young people like myself, but I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for Letitia Wright. Letitia Wright was one of the first black UK actresses that was able to open up doors for people like me, and if it wasn’t for her, I possibly wouldn’t have had the inspiration to want to be an actress or even jump on Top Boy, because it meant that that world was opened for people like me. So we have to continue that.”

Rollacoaster caught up with Jasmine to discuss the similarities she shares with her character Jaq, why she decided to work with Superdry on their new sustainability campaign and promote the organic cotton message, and what’s next for her and head to superdry.com to discover more…

All photography taken from Rollacoaster’s SS22 issue. Jasmine Jobson wears Superdry.

Hi, Jasmine, how are you doing? How’s this year going for you so far?
Oh, my gosh, this year is going absolutely beautifully. I honestly could not have wished for a better year to be totally honest.

How did you first get into acting?
I’ve been doing performing arts since I was a little girl. I started at a performing arts club called Paddington arts, they’re based in West London, on the Harrow road. I started there when I was about four going on five, doing singing, dancing and acting. That was where I honed in on my love for it. Then when I was about 17 and I joined The Big House Theatre Company, I was very much ready to just grab the bull by the horns and get my talent out there. The Big House Theatre Company works with a lot of children who have been through the care system and are finding life difficult. Why do you think programmes like that are so important – what is it about theatre that can be so life-changing for young people? I think it’s immensely important that places like The Big House are open and stay open. They help young people like myself to express ourselves – I personally feel that theatre is one of the best ways to be able to express yourself. Theatre just makes you channel your emotions and let off steam, it’s the perfect outlet. It’s absolutely beautiful.

That’s amazing. And, moving on to Top Boy. You’ve described yourself as a “tough cookie, with thick skin”, which is obviously very similar to your character, Jaq. How similar are you to her, in other ways?
There are definitely lots of similarities, except of course that I’m not a lesbian, the guns and I don’t have her lifestyle.

No way! So did you improv a lot when playing her?
Yes, we did a lot of improvisation. Coming from the Big House Theatre Company, a lot of the work that we do is based around improvisations. We need to be able to think fast on our feet, if we’ve forgotten our lines we need to be able to improvise and bring it back to the script, so the audience will have no idea that we’ve messed up. I love improvising, it’s 100% one of my strengths. I’m just good at making it up as I go along to be totally honest! (laughs)

All photography taken from Rollacoaster’s SS22 issue. Jasmine Jobson wears Superdry.

Clearly! Were there any major scenes in the new series that you improvised?
This season, I was more focused on trying to make sure that the emotions were right. Jaq’s very, very vulnerable in the season that we just did, so I wanted to honour that and show her vulnerability and human side. Everybody just sees her as this tough cookie who’s in a male dominated world, as a soldier, and nobody can really touch her. But at the same time, she does have this vulnerable side and she does hurt. In season 4, or Netflix’s season 2, I was mostly focused on showing that, to be totally honest. But in regards to an improvised scene, if I was to go back to season 3, or Netflix’s first season, there was a scene where Jaq is in Summerhouse, and she’s screaming at some of the youngers. There’s one girl she’s shouting at and she’s saying, “Those jeans and those trainers that you’re wearing? That’s mine. Everything you’re wearing is me!”

Oh I loved that scene!
All of that was an improvisation. I had an absolute field day, it was amazing. I couldn’t hear the director screaming “Cut!”. I was in my own world. It was amazing. Honestly, I thought that was one of Jaq’s best scenes, wow. You’re a black female lead in this predominantly male-led cast, which is amazing, but there’s still such a massive lack of representation on TV.

Since you started out acting, have you felt the industry improving in terms of representation?
100%, even down to the scripts. I remember when I first started, a decade ago, they would give us scripts, and it would say, “Tracy, 17, white”, “Andrea, 30, mixed-race”. Now, the role just says the character’s name, it doesn’t really matter what colour your skin is, it’s about what talent you can bring. I love the fact that the industry is opening up, it’s definitely becoming more diverse. But I think as a young black person, and this applies to any industry, not just the acting industry, we’re always going to have to work 100 times harder than anybody else. It’s as simple as that, so to now see that the industry is becoming more diverse doesn’t mean that we get to relax. No, we still need to work 100 times harder than everyone else, because now we need to be those people that make that stamp. Yes, the industry is opening up, and you’ve got young people like myself, but I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for Letitia Wright. Letitia Wright was one of the first black UK actresses that was able to open up doors for people like me, and if it wasn’t for her, I possibly wouldn’t have had the inspiration to want to be an actress or even jump on Top Boy, because it meant that that world was opened for people like me. So we have to continue that.

All photography taken from Rollacoaster’s SS22 issue. Jasmine Jobson wears Superdry.

Totally. You’re leaving a whole legacy behind, just like she is. There’s more light shed on the women’s stories in the new season, and some really dark topics, like homophobia – I mean Jaq is literally beaten up for being a lesbian. How did you approach those darker themes, was that hard?
Yeah, that was definitely hard. Not one part of that is easy. I think for me, I approached that by speaking to my friends who are gay or lesbian, and just trying to gather more understanding. I tried to educate myself, because I might be a good actress, but I’m not a lesbian, so when trying to think about certain things I might not necessarily have the same thought process. It’s all about honouring this role, and honouring this story of what she’s going through, and really trying to find out the correct ways to respond. It’s not an easy situation to see anyone go through, but also, what is the correct way to respond to something like that? There isn’t one. So when trying to understand how Jaq would have felt at that point, I had to use a lot of myself and think, “Well, if I was being disrespected, or even just got attacked in general, how would that affect me? How would I feel?” I combined that with advice that I got from friends and family who have experienced homophobic discrimination.

You mentioned earlier that you and Jaq are very similar – did you ever find yourself merging with her as a character, and acting like her when you came off set?
Yeah! So, Jesus, the first season, it was so easy to just be able to just check out of Jaq. I was able to just take off every piece of clothing, and that was a little piece of Jaq that I was putting back. And each little bit of my wardrobe that I was putting on was a little bit of Jasmine coming back. So it was easy. However, the season that we just did, oh my Lord, I would literally have to sit there for maybe five to 10 minutes, just take 10 minutes out and figure out what I’d actually just done, and what I was feeling. I really had to identify what I was feeling, and try to separate that. There were days where I would come home and I would still be in tears, still be heartbroken. But then at the same time, I’ve got to pick up that same scene tomorrow, so I would need to just leave that at the front door and say, “Okay, in the morning, I’m going to pick you up and let’s get cracking again”. It is very, very difficult, but I feel you just need to take that time out. The season that we just did, with how emotional it was, I definitely had to figure out that I needed to just take a bit of time out and just be Jasmine. I’m going to get emotional just thinking about it!

Can you give us any hints about Jaq’s character development in the upcoming season?
Hell no, to the no, no, no! I do not do spoilers. I’m sorry, I cannot do that! But I will say, we have officially announced myself, Kano, and Ashley as the official top three. Other than that, no, I’m not going to tell you nothing babe, you’re going to have to wait and see. But it’s going to be beautiful, it’s going to be epic!

All photography taken from Rollacoaster’s SS22 issue. Jasmine Jobson wears Superdry.

I can’t wait. And you’ve been busy offset too – you’re one of Superdry’s UK ambassadors within the sustainability campaign that they’re launching in June, and you’re focused on promoting the organic cotton message. Why did you decide to work with Superdry on this campaign?
I was very, very impressed by the range of sustainable options that they have, to be honest, so when they approached me, I was just on it.

Why do you care about sustainable fashion and the environment?
I mean, if we don’t care about the environment, then where are we going to be in 10 years or 100 years? We’re not going to be here. We all need to pay more attention to what’s going on in nature and the environment. It’s ridiculous, we’re seeing turtles washed up on beaches with nets and things caught or entangled around their necks. It’s just completely unacceptable as far as I’m concerned. So when it comes down to something as easy as making a switch from traditional cotton to organic cotton, I’m learning how to make better choices, and I like it.

Do you have any favourite pieces from the Superdry collection?
I love the vegan trainers. I’m absolutely obsessed with the vegan trainers. One thing that I was actually really astonished about is how on earth are you able to make foam-filling fabric for the inside of your jacket from recycled plastic bottles? Honestly, how do you make foam from recycled plastic bottles? Those jackets are amazing. They’re absolutely amazing. We need more brands like Superdry.

You’ve already done so much, but it seems like you’re only just getting started. What’s next for you?
Girl, I have no idea! Honestly the sky is not even the limit anymore. I feel like I’ve gone to the moon and Mars, I can touch the stars. I’m hoping Hollywood is going to be a big step. I’m absolutely driving myself mad with excitement to start the next season of Top Boy. I cannot wait to jump back on that. And it’s also going to be nice to close a chapter. You know, I’ve been on that wave for a very long time, and it’s been a massive, beautiful, beautiful journey. But I’m excited to see what else is there for me. I need to show off my versatility. So yeah, I’m excited. You never know what’s going to happen.

All photography taken from Rollacoaster’s SS22 issue. Jasmine Jobson wears Superdry.
Photography
Otto Masters
Styling
Sayuri Bloom
Words
Octavia Akoulitchev
Hair
Massimo Di Stefano
Makeup
Chiharu Wakabayashi using Anastasia Beverly Hills
Nails
Teodora Budimer
Set Design
Hugo Aguirre
Producer
Morgane Millot
Production Assistant
Kai Jon Robert
Hair Assistant
Anastasia Gryniuka
JASMINE JOBSON × SUPERDRY