Yasmin Finney has opened up about Elle’s “powerful” trans storyline in season two of the hit series Heartstopper.
Based on Alice Oseman’s best-selling graphic novels, the second series follows boyfriends Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) and Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) as they experience the highs of new love, and the struggles as they go public with their relationship.
The upcoming episodes, however, also give the diverse ensemble cast their time in the spotlight. This includes best friends Tao (William Gao) and Elle, who spend the season avoiding their feelings for each other as they try to build up the courage to go from friends to lovers.
In an interview with Elle magazine on Wednesday (2 August), transgender star Finney revealed new details about her character’s first kiss, working with an intimacy co-ordinator and why it’s important to see positive trans representation on screen.
“That was really fun.” Finney said about working so closely with Gao this season. “Obviously quite daunting having your first kiss scene.
Tao and Elle look set to take their friendship to a new level in season two of Heartstopper. (Netflix)
“But, what was so lovely about it was to do it with Will and to really have that relationship from season one, that really good friendship, and to just go through it together.”
Reflecting on Tao and Elle’s “blossoming love”, Finney continued: “[It] has been boiling up for a while. You can basically just see them grow together and fall in love over a period of a few episodes.
“Everybody’s pulling their teeth – why can’t they get together sooner rather than later? We all worked really hard on it, so I’m just praying it will pay off.”
And it certainly does pay off, as Tao and Elle finally have their first kiss.
Finney recalled how the intimacy co-ordinator helped the young actors “navigate how we kiss and set boundaries and consent”, and praising the “safety” she felt on set.
“It’s easy to do anything in Heartstopper, because the team is so understanding. They’ve got everything marked out already. It’s a nice little family we’ve got that puts safety and the cast first.”
Finney – set to be seen in Doctor Who later this year – doesn’t underestimate the significance of portraying a transgender love story on a major TV show, especially during a time when trans rights are under attack from the UK government.
Yasmin Finney says it’s important to own who you are. (Netflix)
“Elle has been put in this world where it’s trans people falling in love and that is such a powerful thing,” she said. “We’ve needed it for so long, and we finally get to have this amazing sort of friendship that turns into a blossoming love that’s happy, it’s natural.
“It’s really good to have that sort of representation on our screens now. I’m just so happy that young kids out there can see how impactful it is and how important it is to own who you are.”
Finney is particularly pleased that, unlike many shows that feature trans representation, Elle’s daily struggles as a trans woman are not the main focus of her character’s storyline.
“It’s really hard, because even on a day-to-day basis, Elle probably has to tackle loads of things that an average trans person goes through, such as gender dysphoria.
“What’s so lovely is [the show doesn’t] really capitalise on any of that. It’s all just this amazing friendship and love that you see blossom into something special.
“It’s showing people that you can have happy natural love as a trans person and it should be normalised. It shouldn’t be looked at as anything else. It’s really exciting that I get to play that role and to tell that story.”
All eight episodes of Heartstopper season two are streaming on Netflix now.