British actress Ella Purnell landed her first-ever television role as the lead in Starz series “Sweetbitter,” based on the novel of the same name. Purnell, who appeared in her first film at age 12, says she feels like her career “snowballed” overnight.
How do you select projects?
Being in this weird transition [from] child to adult in the last two years has changed the way I view roles. I have a responsibility to young women to represent them the way they should be and to represent humans and real relationships. I will no longer take anything that is damaging to society or a specific group of people.
What’s it like auditioning for roles in America?
I do self-taping from home. … I’m conscious about the amount of time I spend away from home. I have three younger brothers, and I love them to bits. I want to have a good relationship with them and my friends. It’s hard when your life is in London but your passion is abroad.
Would you like to tackle a singing role?
I’d love stuff that incorporates singing, but I’m not on the lookout for it. I also want to do something where I have to pick up a skill, sport, or an instrument. I love learning new things, and I especially love doing [projects] based on books or true-life stories because you get more context and you get to dig in. … I love delving into [a] world. Anything where I can do loads of homework is the best.
There have been more female coming-of-age stories recently like “Sweetbitter.” What are your favorites?
I’m only drawn to things with female protagonists. “Lady Bird,” I love. “I, Tonya” blew me away. There’s not that much out there. Everything seems to be about love when it comes to coming of age, and it’s not. There’s so much of it [that involves] your mom. A girl and her mom or a girl and her dad — their relationship is special. Leaving home, … realizing that you’re an adult and you’re breaking authority, or learning how to trust yourself rather than [being] the adaptive child who does what she’s told; that’s much more of an interesting story to watch.
Things You Didn’t Know About Ella Purnell
AGE: 21 BIRTHPLACE: London CURRENTLY BINGEING: “The Good Place” FAVORITE MUSICIAN: Fat Freddy’s Drop FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: Barbados