Originally from London, Yasmin Paige’s career in acting started at a young age on stage and the small screen with her appearances on The Sarah Jane Adventures and Secret Life. In 2010, Yasmin also gained a lot of attention for starring in the wry coming-of-age film Submarine, Richard Ayode’s directorial debut. Yasmin’s performance as a socially awkward pyromaniac didn’t go unnoticed by the industry as she was nominated at the British Independent Film Awards and at the London Critics Circle Film Awards. She collaborated once again with Ayode in his film The Double in 2013.
Her current role is as a young mother juggling motherhood and her career as a police officer in a small rural town in the English countryside in E4’s drama series Glue however in real life, Yasmin’s juggling lectures and reading for her English literature studies as Glass recently caught her between classes.
You’ve been very busy with university and your studies. Are you enjoying that?
I’ve been going in four times a week so it takes up most of my time. I enjoy it a lot. Coming back from summer break, it’s quite difficult to get back into a studious mentality but it’s really good and I do really enjoy it. It’s a nice challenge. It’s kind of refreshing for me because I spend a lot of time working and university is a break from that.
Where did you get your acting background or training?
I don’t really have a lot of training. I went to Saturday classes. One of my older brothers is an actor as well and when he was young, he was always involved in it and he was always in shows and wanted to take classes on the weekends so I sort of followed him. But it’s not really training. In those classes, you play acting games.
I sort of just fell into it and did really small things at first. Then I started having dialogue. When I got to be 10 or 11 years old, I was in a show and the producer suggested to my mum an agent. And that’s how I met my agent that I still have now! I hadn’t done that much but she really liked me. Before, I saw it more as a hobby but it was around that time when I was 12, I really started to enjoy acting and it felt more like a craft. I really enjoyed it and felt more confident and that’s when I went for more [roles].
I think it would just crush my confidence going into that [acting school] environment. I get confidence learning as I work and on the job. But sometimes I do wish I had the training. I do think that it definitely depends on the type of person.
Tell me about the series Glue.
It’s a murder mystery. It’s about a group of young people set in a little village called Overton. It’s also about how they win their daily bread and their work life. It’s an agricultural community so a lot of the kids work on the farm or they are jockeys. I play a young police officer in her probationary period where they don’t give you big stuff to do, maybe traffic. She stumbles upon this opportunity where she could be involved in this big case.
A murder happens and she can speak the language of the Romany community in the village. She’s part Romany and the Romany community are known to not cooperate with the community. But because she can speak the language, she’s a real weapon for the police. She’s young and ambitious. Living in this small village, she wants to break out and finds it stifling and she takes her opportunity. As for her and the other characters, this murder is a catalyst for everything that unravels in their lives.
Where was it filmed?
We filmed it in Hungerford, which is a little village outside of Reading. Jack Thorne, the writer of the series, grew up in a rural atmosphere and the story is very personal to him and his experience. For me, filming in Hungerford was a really great experience – how the characters felt growing up in isolation. There wasn’t much in the village, only one takeaway. If you wanted to do anything like watch a movie or shop, you had to take a train to Newbury, which is about half an hour.
Your character, Ruth, is a single mum and a police officer. How did you prepare for the role?
I had a lot of help for the police officer part. We had someone from the Reading police force that was on set with us and she helped us with every scene and situation involving the police. She helped me to understand the scenario, what my position would be, how I would react in certain situations and my duties. That was fine and I approached it like any other job. So this wasn’t scary for me.
The scary thing was pretending to be a mum. I don’t have children myself so it was pretty difficult. There two little twin girls who played my daughter, it was a challenge to connect with them because they’re babies so you don’t know what they’re going to do. I was a stranger to them so I had to make myself comfortable to make the relationship between them and I believable so it was quite a challenge for me. I was so nervous because the time I have with them, it’s my responsibility to take care of them. But it was really fun.
Do you think you have similarities with your character?
I don’t think any character you play is too different from you because you infuse parts of yourself into that character. That’s how you bring them to life. There’s no way to completely rid yourself and just be a completely different person because there’s always a part of you within the [character] and that’s how you connect with them. She’s very ambitious and she’s someone who has a very strong moral compass. Her story is coming into a working environment for the first time and being surrounded by a lot of older people trying to make something of herself. She feels like she’s got a lot to prove and I can – most people can connect with that.
She’s a young mum and she feels like she’s only got one chance just like most of us. So I connect with her in those areas. She’s an outcast in her community so she’s a lone ranger on her own. That’s something I can definitely connect with – wanting to be a part of something, a big family, a community and not knowing how to go about that and how to make yourself so important that people really need you. That’s what she desires throughout the show.
How are you finding it working with other young people?
It’s great. I have worked with a lot of older actors before. When I was on [children’s] programmes, obviously, it was with people my own age. But it had been a while. It’s different working now as an adult. You approach it differently. It’s really nice. I felt like I could be my own age. Sometimes when you’re around older people, it can be quite intimidating because you have to be quite mature and be at your best. Sometimes it’s hard to prove yourself as the youngest. So being around people my own age made me relaxed. The programme is about being young so it’s about embracing my age.
Do you have upcoming projects?
Not at the moment. I’m auditioning for things. At the moment, I’m focused on university. It’s quite hard for me to balance the two so if I did do a job, anything I do next, I’d have to take time out. So it’s about picking the right things and the next challenge. I would love to do things for fun but I have to take time out for my education. It’s about being selective and smart.
What made you choose English Literature for your major?
I had great English teachers and they were the ones who inspired me the most. In high school, I had a brilliant English teacher, Ms. Joanna, she’s brilliant. She made it really exciting. I was good at it and it didn’t make me want to cry like maths did.
What are some recent books have you read that you’ve loved?
We studied this in university in last year. It was really interesting. I got a first in my essay for it and I don’t normally get first…[laughs]. I usually get an average grade. This was one of my top grades and I knew it came from my love for the book. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I absolutely loved it. The relationship between the creature and Victor. Looking at all the theories around them made it really interesting. We read Simone De Beauvoir and Virginia’s Woolf’s theories surrounding the novel so the book appeared in a completely different light than how I first read it.
What do you like to do with your free time?
My time gets taken up by cooking. Not that I love it but I’m really slow at it. [Laughs] it takes me, like, three hours to make one meal. I like going to the gym and dance classes. I’m looking join activities at university so i can fill up my time. This is what happens when you’re not acting. You need to fill up your time.
by Lisa Kim
Photographs by Justin van Vliet
The finale of Glue screens on E4