Simone Kessell, the breakout star of Yellowjackets, on diversity in Hollywood, the beauty of motherhood, and the expectations of playing ‘Antler Queen’ in season two


Did there ever come a time when you thought about leaving the acting business? 

Yeah, very much. And I sort of stood down for a few years while I had my kids, and I’m so glad I did because I know so many actors who have just kept working, and then they’re in their 40s and like, “What have I got other than a great showreel and a beautiful house or something?” So maybe that’s the gift, that they weren’t ready for me. And so I got to have kids and have a life, and then now I’m definitely all in, and the roles are just getting stronger and stronger.

So you mentioned you have two children?

Yeah. Two boys, actually. I was 28, and I couldn’t get a job to save myself. And so I had a baby, and I’m so glad I did. And now my eldest is 18. He’s like, “Mum, I just saw Yellowjackets.” The whole time I was filming, I was saying, “Have you watched it yet?” And he’s like, “yeah, I’ll get around to it.” And then he watched, and he’s like, “Mum, you are Lottie!” I was like, “I told you to watch it.” And he was so cute, he was like, “I can’t believe it. I mean, I look at you, and I don’t see my mum. And then I think, well, that’s just mom, but it’s f***ing with my head.”

Well, you’ve definitely earned brownie points with him! Following that, there’s recently been considerable discourse about nepotism in Hollywood. Where do you stand on this? Would you encourage your children to follow in your footsteps, or would you be hesitant? 

I’m the latter. If they still want to be actors at 21, then great! But up until then, have a life. I find when kids are on set, and their parents are really pushing them, they can do no wrong. The validation they get at such a young age, it’s not real. I know, because I was twelve when I started, and everyone was so nice. But it’s fake. It’s like they want to make your day, so they’re really nice to you.

But of course, I would wholeheartedly support my child if he wants to be an actor. But a part of me would say, “You got to have thick skin, and you’ve got to know that it’s a really tough road.” That’s it, being able to have thick skin and being rejected time and time again. But you’re one step closer to the win every time you’re rejected.

Dominik Magdziak

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