Exclusive Interview: Jasmine Jobson

Jasmine Jobson Exclusive Interview

Exclusive Interview: Jasmine Jobson

The London-born actor on her unexpected route into the industry and her latest exciting role

Words by Liz Skone James

Jasmine Jobson on how acting changed her life and how she believes it can change the lives of others

Photography by Joseph Sinclair | Styling by Laura Weatherburn | Hair by Liah Lewis | Make up by Kareem Jarché | Shot on location at The Standard, London

As the protagonist in ITVX’s Platform 7, BAFTA nominated actress Jasmine Jobson is stepping into somewhat new territory; the Londoner is perhaps best known for starring as Jaq in Top Boy. “Platform 7 is completely different from any role that I’ve ever played before,” she reveals, when we sit down to talk about the project. “I play a very, very strong woman in a psychological thriller.”

The four-part series has been adapted by BAFTA and international Emmy award-winning screenwriter Paula Milne from the bestselling novel of the same name by Louise Doughty. It is produced by Dancing Ledge Productions, who brought us The Salisbury Poisonings and The Responder. A haunting thriller, it follows Jasmine’s character Lisa, who, after witnessing a cataclysmic event on platform seven of a railway station, finds her own fragmented memory jogged to reveal a connection between her own life and that of the event she has just witnessed.

Supernatural elements combine with contemporary realism in this chilling drama, but Jasmine is wary about spoiling the storyline for viewers. “All that I really want to say, without giving too much away, is that a lot happens on platform seven; it is a treacherous platform. I don’t really know how to say anything else without revealing too much,” she tells me. “But yeah, I mean, it’s completely different for me. I’m playing more of myself, a little bit. You get to see more of a feminine Jasmine, definitely more vulnerable, but in a completely different way. And we cover a lot of touchy subjects, we cover domestic violence – mental and physical. It’s definitely going to be an emotional watch.”

Jasmine wears,  black dress by Huishan Zhang

As well as flexing different dramatic muscles, Jasmine was also able to master new technical skills on the shoot. “I actually had the opportunity to use a green screen for the first time,” she explains, talking about her experience on set. “It was strange, and it can be a little bit tedious, but do you know what? It is amazing. The work that they do with green screen is absolutely phenomenal… how they can just create something that isn’t actually there, but you see it on screen. Phenomenal.” The fact that she learns something new on every job is one of the things she loves about her job, she tells me.

This, and the idea that she might be able to use her talents to change perceptions. “Being able to open people’s eyes to what’s going on in the real world – if they’re, I would say shadowed from it, or they don’t necessarily see it, because they’re blind to it, I like to be that person to open their eyes and show them what is really happening,” she reveals. “And I want to make people feel something. I could possibly save a life one day, just from a performance. You know, just from one specific scene, I could possibly change somebody’s life.”

Indeed, she credits acting with changing her own life; having gone through a troubled period in her teens, she made the unusual decision to put herself into the care system. As a child she had always loved performing: “I went to Paddington Arts club when I was, I think about five or six. I went there, up until my parents couldn’t afford to send me anymore,” she tells me. Encouraged by her foster mother and recalling how much she had enjoyed her time at the club, and how rewarding it had been to appear in school productions, she turned to The Big House Theatre Company during those difficult teen years. The charity, set up by theatre director Maggie Norris, provides long-term support to care leavers and at-risk young people, helping them to transform their lives through the power of performance. “I was a very troubled young teenager when I stepped through Maggie’s doors and she taught me a lot,” Jasmine tells me. “I had a lot of guidance from her, and I honestly wouldn’t be in this position today if she didn’t give me the training that she did.”

Describing her involvement with the charity, Jasmine tells me: “In The Big House, what we would do is, we would sit down with a writer called Andrew Day, and he would speak to all of us individually, about our own life experiences, and he would tailor each character specifically. So, in a way, when we were doing these productions, we were essentially playing ourselves, with maybe a little twist. In this production called Phoenix, I was playing myself, along with a little twist that was taken from a friend of mine who has passed away; he was diagnosed with MS at the age of 18. With that performance we kind of really changed a lot of perceptions with regards to kids who have come out of the system, and things like that. All of this done within a theatre production – it is absolutely phenomenal. Maggie is amazing, honestly. And so is Andrew Day with his writing. With this production alone, I then got signed by my agent within three weeks of performing and here we are nearly 11 years later.”

Blue dress by Fendi

It was a pivotal moment for Jasmine, and she has loved everything that has followed. “It’s changed my life,” she exclaims. “I’m always saying to my friends and my younger siblings that I truly believe that if you do something that’s your hobby, then you’ll never get bored. You know, you’ll never not have fun, and there’s nothing better than having fun in the job that you’re in. I’m very fortunate to be able to be living my dreams. You know, I’ve always dreamt of being on stages, or being on TV and seeing my name up in lights and having my face on billboards. And with God’s grace, I’ve managed to do all of the above. So yeah, dreams really do come true. You just have to work for them.”

Jasmine has arguably had to work harder than some: “The first thing I was always told was that as a black woman, I’m going to have to work 20 times as hard as everybody else,” she asserts. “And I most definitely have done… When I signed with my agent, I thought my life had changed. I was like, that’s it…” she laughs. “But you don’t realise how much work goes into trying to be an actor; it doesn’t just happen overnight. So yeah, it’s really just about getting your face out there, and getting as much work as you can possibly get – I was working back to- back for nearly 10 years.” Of course, getting your face out there involves going into auditions and believing in your abilities.

Bralette, skirt and gloves, all Dior

“You have to be confident in yourself, I have to remind myself all the time,” she tells me. “I still have down days, and I still have days where I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’m good enough.’ I have to remind myself that I wouldn’t be here, in the position that I’m in right now, if I wasn’t good at what I do. The same goes for anybody in any job… If there’s something that you want to do and that’s your passion, that’s your drive, then go for it! Don’t let nobody tell you no. You’re going to get there!” It goes without saying that not every audition runs smoothly. “Oh God! There was a really embarrassing one,” Jasmine laughs. “It was a very, very emotional character. And in this scene, my character had to break down into tears; she was really going through it. I don’t know what happened to my nose… It was like Niagara Falls – all of a sudden there was just a pure snot pouring out. I wasn’t prepared for it, and I didn’t know what to do. It was just going all over the place; I tried to catch it all in my hands… it was a proper grimy audition. And bless the casting director – she gave me a tissue at the end.”

She didn’t get that job, but she did get recalled. “In this industry you win some, you lose some,” she shrugs. “You’re not going to book every job. I mean, it could come down to the slightest of things. It could be that last minute they just decided that they’re going to go a completely different way, or, I don’t know, it could be your eye colour, or your height, or something like that. It could be anything, and you just have to take it on the chin and move on to the next one. You could end up going into 100 auditions and maybe only get recalled for one or two. Or you could go for 10 and get recalled for all 10. You never really know. You just keep pushing. At the end of the day, you have just got to remind yourself that everything you touch will turn to gold. You’ll get there.”

Such self-belief was not innate – there have been bitter disappointments along the way. “I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but I got down to the bottom two for X-Men, Star Wars, and Urban Hymn,” she reveals. “I ended up losing all three… I wasn’t mentally prepared. My foster carer had passed away at the time. And I was going through a lot… I had to realise it’s just not my time. My time will come; I’ve just got to keep on pushing, keep on going the way that I’m going. I’m going in the right direction, so let me just keep my chin up and just keep on pushing.”

Jacket and trousers, both Louis Vuitton

Speaking of pushing on, I wonder what’s next for Jasmine, after Platform 7. “I have a feature film coming out soon, directed by Angela Arnold,” she tells me. “If you haven’t seen her movie Fish Tank, you definitely need to – it is absolutely amazing. I’m playing a character in one of her most recent productions called Bird. And yeah, again, it’s another project that’s really, really heartfelt; my character is involved in some domestic abuse. Angela Arnold was an absolute blessing to work with. Her work is phenomenal, and I was all-round fan girling just working with her!”

She’d also, she tells me, like to revisit theatre at some point. “I love theatre, it’s so beautiful, because you almost have your audience’s hearts in your hands. And you have the power to make them feel,” she explains. “I’d definitely like to delve back into it at some point. And maybe a little musical or something – so people get to hear my voice. I’ve been singing since I was a little girl, and singing is definitely a big, big passion of mine, but I’m just very, very protective over that voice. It’s my baby. It’s the only instrument I can play.”

Don’t expect to see Jasmine treading the boards any time soon, though – these are very much future plans. “Definitely at some point, but not right now,” she says. “I’ve got a quite exciting next five years ahead of me, which I’m sure you guys will know about soon, but not yet… But it’s going to be very, very exciting!” Talk about leaving us in suspense!

Platform 7 will be available to stream on ITVX later this year