Marisa Abela: Everything to Know About Actress Playing Amy Winehouse in ‘Back To Black’ Movie

A decade after the world lost Amy Winehouse, 'Industry' star Marisa Abela will play the 'Rehab' singer in a new biopic. As the world sees the first glimpse of Marisa as Amy, here's what you need to know.

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Amy Winehouse’s story, with its successes and sadness, will be told in Back To Black, the new biopic directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy, Fifty Shades of Grey, A Million Little Pieces.) The actress taking on the monumental challenge of portraying Amy on screen is Marisa Abela, the breakout star of HBO’s Industry. On Jan. 13, the world got its first look of Marisa dressed in Amy’s trademark black bouffant, dangly earrings, and beauty mark.

“My connection to Amy began when I left college and was hanging out in the creatively diverse London borough of Camden,” said Taylor-Johnson, per Deadline. “I got a job at the legendary Koko Club, and I can still breathe every market stall, vintage shop, and street… A few years later, Amy wrote her searingly honest songs whilst living in Camden. Like with me, it became part of her DNA. I first saw her perform at a talent show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho, and it was immediately obvious she wasn’t just’ talent’… she was genius.”

Filming for Back To Black begins on Jan. 16, 2023. As the world readies for the film’s completion, here’s what you need to know about the movie’s star.

Marisa Abela Is A British Actress

Marisa Abela (b. Dec. 7, 1996) was born “to a stage actress mother and a comedian-turned-director father,” per W magazine. With such parents, she had a brief “rebellion” where she considered being a human rights lawyer before she relented and began to work in the family business. She attended the Roedean School before attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She graduated in 2019 and experienced her breakout in 2020.

She Got Her Foot In The ‘Industry’

“If you would have told me at the beginning of RADA that on my graduation day, I’d have gotten a train back that morning from Cardiff filming an HBO show,” she told The Cut. Marisa’s breakout came in 2020 when she landed the role of Yasmin Kara-Hanani in Industry, an HBO television drama (dubbed “The First Great Gen Z Workplace Drama” by GQ). Industry follows a group of young graduates competing for positions at a prestigious investment bank in London. Season 2 finished in September 2022, and HBO renewed it for a third.

“I love a show that doesn’t tell the audience how to feel,” Marisa told Complex following the end of Season 2. “I think that it’s really refreshing and nice. What it means is that the fans of the show, the people that enjoy it, have incredibly different opinions. … It just is what it is. I have my own personal opinions. As an actor, I can’t judge Yasmin as harshly as maybe an audience member might; I have to try and understand where she’s coming from and why she does what she does. It’s easier to play a character who was portrayed as a villain or a nice guy if they just do what they do. It’s up to everyone else to decide how they feel about that.”

Life In Plastic, It’s Fantastic

In 2020, Marisa also appeared in Series 1 of COBRA, a British television drama centered around Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, the location in Whitehall where the British Prime Minister holds emergency meetings.

Marisa was cast alongside a who’s who of stars for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie. “If you’d have told me that by the time I was 25, I’d have worked with Lena Dunham and Greta Gerwig, I’d have geeked out,” Marisa told W Magazine, referencing how Lena also directed the Industry pilot episode. Marisa’s role in Barbie was, like others in the cast, kept under wraps in the lead-up to the film’s release.

(James Veysey/Kevork Djansezian/AP/Shutterstock)

“It’s different. It’s obviously a big Hollywood movie,” she told Vanity Fair about Barbie. “It was the biggest set I’ve ever been on. You can really feel the beast of Hollywood behind it in a good way. Whereas Industry, it’s obviously HBO, it’s run through Bad Wolf in Wales. It’s much more personable. So that was a really exciting experience for me to be on such a huge set. It was just very exciting and fun and new. Other than huge MCU-type films, I don’t know when the next time I’d be on a set like that.

She’s Glad To Start A Conversation

“Women struggle with their sexuality and sensuality, and there are so many amazing television series and books that help us understand that, but what if, just once, with this character, that is not the issue?” Marisa told W Magazine about her Industry character’s on-screen sexual joy. “She loves her body, she loves having sex, she loves the way people are attracted to her. And that just turns her on in every aspect of that phrase. I thought, as a sort of a provocation point, why don’t we just go for that? If the question on the exam is, ‘Is Yasmin purely happy in her sexuality?’ Then yes. ‘Discuss?’ That’s what the show does.”

Marvel, Maybe?

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe decides to film Phase 5, they can call Marisa. “I would love to do it,” she said to VF about being in a huge Marvel movie. “It would be so fun. I think it’s fun to dip in and out of every different kind of genre. People don’t realize the kind of stuff you do at drama school. It’s so physical. I would love to do something that was in some way, physically demanding.”

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