This year has marked a breakthrough moment for female-led British television, and Channel 4's Adult Material is the latest show to put multifaceted women at the centre of its narrative. The show dives deep into topics including sex work, consent, class, and motherhood, and Bustle chatted to one of its leads, Siena Kelly, to find out more.
Adult Material is a look at the British porn industry, taking away the fantasy and humanising the people in front of the camera. Starring Hayley Squires, Joe Dempsie, Rupert Everett, and rising star Siena Kelly, the four-part drama looks into the not-so-sexy parts of the industry, following porn star Jolene Dollar. Kelly plays Amy, a young troubled woman new in the porn industry, who Jolene ends up taking under her wing.
"She's one of those people that I feel like if you pushed her off a building she'd land on her feet," Kelly says of Amy, explaining to Bustle that playing this character was the most fun she's ever had on set.
Kelly actually started out her career training as a dancer, performing in national competitions. From a young age, she had a passion for musical theatre (“I was obsessed with really old Hollywood musicals, Guys n Dolls, Westside Story") and went on to study it at college – but eventually she found herself falling deeper in love with traditional theatre. Since then, she's performed at the open air venue in Regent's Park and, most recently, in Teenage Dick at the Donmar.
However, despite theatre being a "second home" for Kelly, she's certainly making her mark on screen too, having appeared in Sky’s Temple and ITV's Vanity Fair before Adult Material.
Just like with I Hate Suzie and I May Destroy You, it’s clear from the offset that women are at the helm of Adult Material with playwright Lucy Kirkwood creating complex, dynamic story arcs for the female character. Speaking about the outcome, Kelly says: "Look what happens when you let us do it," says Kelly. "I’m hoping this means that people will trust [female writers and actors] more."
The actor tells Bustle that there were porn stars on the set of Adult Material to help advise on the storylines and how they were developing. “They were super open, really interesting, and really lovely,” she says. Kelly was happy to see that Adult Material wasn't the one-dimensional, trauma-filled narrative often portrayed of sex workers in media: “It’s nice to see porn stars who love their job and aren't massively scarred from it,” she says.
Kelly wants Adult Material "to start a conversation on porn and how it affects us," adding: "I want people to realise that porn stars are humans – they're not just on our mobiles or our laptops – and [we need] to listen to them. We need to take some responsibility for the people within the industry because ... they're not making it for no one."
Get to know more about Kelly in her Bustle Booth questionnaire below.
In The Bustle Booth
What's your coffee order?
Flat white with oat milk.
Favourite overused movie quote?
"Here's looking at you, kid."
What was your favourite cartoon as a kid?
Fairy Odd Parents.
Describe reality TV in one word.
A D D I C T I V E.
What unsolved TV mystery still haunts you?
What did the Doctor whisper to Rose??
Who's your celeb idol?
Who was the first TV character you had a crush on?
Captain Jack Sparrow (he's film but...)
What is something you would want people to say about you?
Well she's f*cking fun.