Daisy Jelley is no stranger to a camera. Whether it’s blowing up our FYP on TikTok, fronting fashion campaigns for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Coach or filling the glossy pages of a modelling portfolio, she can be found just about anywhere. Now, as the camera lens widens to the big screen, the model and digital creator is taking on a new title: actor.
Delving into the world of will-they won’t-they romance in Marked Men, a love-seeking comedy in How to Date Billy Walsh, spring-break fun in How to Have Sex and vampire-charged horror in Feed, Jelley does not take her status as a newcomer lightly. Dancing since she was three and modelling at the age of 10, you could say performance was always in her blood — yet there was one barrier Jelley was left to tackle before shouting lights, camera, action… Her confidence.
Walking onto her Rollacoaster photoshoot, she greets everyone with a smile, perusing the clothing racks and showing off her dog, Sahara, who takes pride of place on her phone’s screen saver. As a shy kid, it’s taken many comfort-zone detours to get here. Driven by the love of her craft and hunger for her dreams, it's evident Jelley has found her place under the spotlight. And she’s not going anywhere.
SCARLETT BAKER: Name 3 products you can’t live without:
DAISY JELLEY:Okay, I’ll try to pick three that would almost make an effortless look. So: Weleda Skin Food is my current favourite as my skin is always super thirsty. Then I would go for the Shiseido Shikulime colour control cream. This has SPF 30, it corrects to whichever tone your skin is at the time so a perfect match for all year round and then it’s also moisturising for dewy skin. Lastly, I’d have the Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lip and Cheek Glow in shade “Colour of Passion”. It’s a lovely deep pink that’s perfect for adding a little colour to my lips and cheeks and it also is creamy enough that it moisturises. I could go on listing products forever though. I have been so lucky to work with some lovely beauty brands and it has sparked a love for makeup I didn’t have before.
SB:How did you get your footing in modelling?
DJ:My sister and I used to play shops and catwalk in the garden, we loved the idea of the fashion world but I was a very shy kid. When I was 10, we plucked up the courage to ask our parents to see an agency. We went into Kids London, alongside my little brother, and they signed all three of us! We had so many great experiences on shoots through them. Then when I was 13, I got scouted by Select on a school trip to the Clothes Show Live. I slowly transitioned from my Kids agency to Select and have been with Select ever since, they’re like family now!
SB:Walk us through an average day in the life of Daisy Jelley.
DJ: So this varies a lot from day to day. If it’s a day at home, I usually wake up super early. I have a coffee and workout and take my dog, Sahara, for a walk. Then a shower and breakfast. I usually have either an audition, something to film, lines to learn, character research or scripts to read so I prioritise that first alongside some acting training through reading, videos or classes. I try to have an hour minimum of reading fiction and Spanish lessons every day. I also try to watch a film or series episode I haven’t seen every day to immerse myself in the film world. Lunch and dinner are within all of that and I’m in bed by 10 PM most days. If I’m working on location, I usually get up earlier than I need to to give myself that alone time and to fit in a workout if I can. I then travel and work; so it’s to the makeup and hair chair and then to whatever project I’m on that day. I aim to read in any breaks and get to bed as early as I can with the work hours. I also have days where I lay in, do nothing but watch TV all day and go to bed late! I love those days too. It’s all about balance, enjoying life but also working hard.
SB:Movement and dance have framed your life so far, when did you first fall in love with dance?
DJ:Yes, it’s a beautiful form of expression. I started dancing when I was three, with baby ballet, character, modern and tap. Then I joined street dance and commercial classes and studied dance at school and college, which was mainly contemporary. I think as someone who was on the more shy side, dancing in groups was one of my favourite expressions of art alongside painting. The singing and acting side were always a lot more out of my comfort zone but I had this strong love for it and pushed myself to take part in that too so I could gradually grow my confidence.
SB:Most underrated beauty trend?
DJ:Under eye coloured liner with simple dewy skin. I love it!
SB:Growing up in front of the lens, what prompted your transition into acting? Was this something you always wanted to pursue alongside your modelling?
DJ:I think studying film and media studies was actually the main trigger for this shift! I have always had a serious love for film in front and behind the camera and I was lucky to explore both at college. I learnt during this period that I wasn’t so scared of acting in front of a camera, as I had gotten used to being in front of one when modelling. It helped me a lot knowing this as I could grow as an actress with or without the camera there. Throughout my childhood, I took part in productions in and outside of school and then took theatre studies at college which grew my confidence massively on stage. Acting wasn’t something I thought I could ever be able to do as a career because of the lack of confidence I had. But I always had a hunger for it and just had to push myself to go for it. I am so lucky I did.
SB: Can you recall a time when you found that confidence to shift into acting?
DJ:A significant memory I had when modelling which triggered the urge to start the conversation about acting with Select was on a job where we shot a commercial on an old film video camera. I was in a beautiful extravagant dress, the lighting and location were incredible and there were over a hundred supporting artists taking part. I got a taste of the film world and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
SB:If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
DJ:David Fincher’s work was the most inspiring to me, I remember watching Gone Girl for the first time and was mesmerised by it (and Rosamunda Pike’s acting of course). I’d love to work with him on a project.
SB:Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing and where you grew up? Did it creatively inspire you?
DJ:Sure! I grew up in a small town in Surrey. I can say that I was lucky to grow up in an artistic household where our passions were nurtured. My mum is a hairdresser and my dad is a salesman for hair products and a singer at events and restaurants. I shared a room with my sister Jasmin, who is three years older and I loved having someone to look up to that is inspiring in both academics and the arts. My brother Harvey is seven years younger than me and we are super close. He is also really passionate about the arts and the fashion world. Our home wasn’t big or anything, but it was full of people that believed in each other and pushed each other to succeed…and still do! We have a big family and we all keep in touch. I’m very lucky. I live in London currently but visit my family as much as I can.
SB:What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
DJ:“This too shall pass” is a saying a few people in my life have reiterated to me. It helps me reflect on the temporary nature of the moment we are in, whether good or bad, and reminds me to live presently.
SB:Is there a genre that you’d love to try your hand at?
DJ:My favourite genre is thriller. I would love to be a part of projects within this genre, both behind and in front of the camera. I am shooting a horror called Feed in Autumn so that is very close and exciting!
SB:My top three films are…
DJ:There is so much amazing work out there and my answer changes every day depending on the mood I’m in, ask again soon and I’ll probably give you another answer. I loved the experience I had watching Midsommar directed by Ari Aster. It’s truly shocking and gets crazier by the second.
I have been lucky to see Nick Cassavetes new film God is a Bulletand I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is also another crazy one but I loved hearing him talk about the film and watching it with him and my cast mates from our upcoming film, Marked Men. Some of the crew that were shooting with us were also part of the crew on that project too, so it was really special seeing the love that went into it. A film that really broke me recently was Aftersun, directed by Charlotte Wells. I was sobbing. The film was slow-paced and real, very memorable. I mean, I could list the Pixar movies and old classics that inspire film today or more films from David Fincher like Se7en (I feel like I’ve been able to sneakily add Gone Girlinto one of the previous questions), but you can probably tell by now I’m the worst at picking favourites.
SB:How do you approach research for a character?
DJ:I start by reading and analysing the script in depth, looking at the relationships with the other characters and figuring out how and why they say things as a response to the other person in conversation with them. I look at the character's background — if its given I will add to it, if it isn't I create their background that will get them to the moment of their life that the script starts from. I explore their quirks and habits, the way they walk, the way they talk, how their past experiences may affect them in different ways in their future, their motivations, the songs they’d listen to, the food they’d love, what they’d have in their bag, their hobbies, their relationships to the people in the script, the way they were bought up. There’s a lot to explore and so much more than what I have mentioned, but all these little things are what add up to how they may say a simple line. This is a human you’re dealing with and shouldn’t just be treated as a character that only exists within the pages of the script. I love prep!
SB:Talk us through Marked Men and the casting process. What drew you to the script? Can you talk us through your character and how you get into the mindset of portraying them.
DJ:I taped from home for a few characters within this project, which was fun to explore. And I got a call that they cast me as Sierra! What drew me to the script was that it is a very modernised take on a not-so-clean “romance” story. The characters are flawed and it makes them real. I loved Nick Cassavettes’ directing approach, and everyone involved was full of passion and inspiring to work with. Sierra knows what she wants and gets it, she holds power over a room and enjoys it. There should be a lot of prep done to find the character so you can show up as them, but one fun thing I love doing before stepping on set is creating a playlist for the character and listening to that throughout the day. It helps me find their physicality and voice and is an exciting, simple exercise.
SB:With a host of roles on the horizon: How to Date Billy Walsh, How to Have Sex and Feed, how far does your process in approaching a character change from each script?
DJ:It’s so exciting! I’d say they all start with the same script analysis and looking in depth at the information I’m given on a character. Because you’re working with portraying different people, different things come up to explore more in-depth for each as they all have had different experiences in life.
SB:What makes a good script?
DJ:I personally want to feel something strong when reading it and get excited when imagining the world of the script. There are scripts that I have read and sat smiling and some that I’ve read and cried.
SB:Are there any standout moments from How to Date Billy Walsh?
DJ:I don’t want to give any spoilers but there’s definitely a fun scene that I’ll remember forever. Outside of spoilers, I loved working with Paxina Tuvuka in our scenes together!
SB:Talk us through How to Have Sex and the premise behind it? Is there something that stood out to you in this character?
DJ: I don’t play a massive part in this storyline at all but I really wanted to be in this project. I read the script and could tell it was going to be incredible in the hands of Molly Manning Walker. I am so proud of Molly and the cast and crew for the recognition they’re getting at Cannes! It’s a film that covers post-exam holidays culture, female friendships, consent, British upbringing and more.
Photography by Betty Oxlade-Martin
Fashion by Kate Sinclair
Interview by Scarlett Baker
Words by Ella West
Editorial Director Charlotte Morton
Editor Ella West
Art Director Harry Fitzgerald
Production Director Ben Crank
Producer Isabella Coleman
Production Intern Lola Randall
Makeup by Elise Priestly
Hair Stylist Richard Phillipart
Special thanks to Studio 101
Talent - Select Models