If you were about to star in a new show called the next game of Thrones, you’d probably freak out, wouldn’t you? But then again, if you are Jessie Mei Li, you will likely carry on normally. The aspiring 25-year-old British actress stars in Netflix’s latest mega-production, the adaptation by author Leigh Bardugo Shadows and bones Young Adult Series (YA). The show follows Li’s character, protagonist Alina Starkov, as she navigates to discover and ultimately reveal her hidden powers. It’s a classic underdog-to-superhero story.
I speak to Li about Zoom – the culmination of the Shadow and Bones hype – just a week after the show was released. Since landing on our screens, it’s number one on Netflix UK’s most watched shows and currently number two in the US. I can’t help but immediately ask the obvious: Has life changed overnight? “I’ve never been drawn to the idea of fame and the like. I’m not cool enough to be in public, ”she laughs. As we talked, Li, clad in an oversized t-shirt, shorts, and her signature nose ring, told me that she was actually at her mother’s house in Surrey, where she grew up – surely the ultimate sign of her not being in that City got involved in celebrity world just in time. “It’s weird because I’m the same, but people’s perception of [me] is different. And that’s what I need to remember because I am exactly the same person and hopefully I will continue to be the same person, ”she says. “It’s bizarre [that] As soon as your face is on TV everyone thinks, “Oh, I want to talk to you now.”