Featuring Claudia Jessie in the Luca (Classic Havana)
Can you walk us through the early stages of your acting career?
I guess it properly started in Birmingham. With the help and support of a woman called Hannah Phillips. She is an amazing woman, playwright, director and supporter of youth getting into theatre and devising pieces relevant to the times. I think she first saw me in a sketch/devised piece and asked me to join her feminist theatre company and LGBTQ+ company too. On my 21st birthday, I performed in a piece of theatre called ’The Fear of Queer’. I really fell in love with being on stage and decided to move down to London and try to ‘make it’ as an actor. Myself and my incredible mother then started writing to every agent in London and the UK, emailing them and then hand delivering letters to the ones in London. They all said no. Quite rightly, actually - considering I had zero experience, qualifications or training of any kind. But then my mum found an open audition for a really big show. I went along and actually got quite far, but there was no way I would have been able to do it as I had no representation. But the casting director recommended me to an agent called Michael Ford. I had already written to him but was yet to hear back. But with the support of the casting director and the progress I had made in the open casting, Michael agreed to a meeting! After leaving his office, I remember thinking that it just had to be him. I didn’t hear back from Michael for ages so I kept badgering him. I remember saying, "You’ve got nothing to lose! If I don’t get a job within the first three months of being with you, you can drop me". I think I was only able to be so brazen because it was actually me that had nothing to lose at this point. I remember during this period I just kept getting rejection after rejection from all the other agencies I had written to. One day, I was out in the rain and had to pay to pick up a letter from the post office. It was another big fat NO from another agent. I remember thinking "Oh now I’m actually PAYING to be rejected!" Haha! Then that day, Michael called and asked if I’d like to have him as my agent. That was 10 years ago. I couldn’t be happier with him. He is one of my best friends. Oh, and I did actually manage to get a job within the first three months!
What inspired you to take up acting? Have you always wanted to be an actress?
I suppose I was always into 'make believe’ and playing pretend. Like most children I suppose. I don’t think that is particularly unique in any way. I loved reading and being in my own little world. Again, nothing too spectacular for a young mind. I suppose what was special about it was actually how my mum treated it. We had a rough time as a family. No money, single parent, council estate, working class background. But my mum would do everything in her power to try and give me and my older brother a good start in life. So any time me and my brother expressed any interest in something, my mum would figure out how to get it done. She would clean houses in exchange for piano lessons and stuff like that. Being resourceful with what little she had. I choke up whenever I think about how much she went through to support us. So I think my mum is the reason I took up acting, and my mum continues to be the reason I work hard. I will never be able to repay her but I know I make her proud - and that’s priceless to me.
How does it feel to be part of one of the most watched series on Netflix? Has it been difficult to adjust to the fame that the show has brought?
I don’t really know how I feel. Ha! I know that sounds odd. But it was such a bizarre time when Bridgerton came out. It was Christmas Day during a pandemic and lockdown. I was with my boyfriend on my boat and we watched it together. And we loved it! We were so proud of it (my partner is the casting director alongside Kelly Hendry for Bridgerton) but then we were just in lockdown, or out wearing face masks. Just getting on with life. And because I don’t have any social media, I think I missed a lot of the hype. Hearing the numbers was pretty incredible though. But mostly I just felt chuffed for everyone involved. It’s the most beautiful cast and crew and I love them all with my whole heart, so I felt like I was just buzzing for all of my pals!
If you could work alongside any actor/actress, who would it be and why?
What’s next for you?
Claudia's Round of Speed Dating with DMY
2. What was the last thing you Googled?
3. What was the last book you read?
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
5. What is your favourite TV show?
6. What would be your ideal date?
7. What’s your guilty pleasure?
8. What’s the best and worst purchase you’ve ever made?
9. What was your first concert?
10. Make a party playlist with only 3 songs: