Yasmin Finney on fandom, family and online trolls

“There’s a lot of keyboard warriors that have such a strong opinion on the roles that I play.”

After her breakout role in Heartstopper, Yasmin Finney is back on our screens playing trans character Rose Noble in Doctor Who, as the show celebrates its 60th anniversary.

The 20-year-old trans actress tells BBC Newsbeat being part of the cast has given her “a kooky, amazing family”, an experience she feels she missed out on.

Yasmin has spoken before about being close to her mother, but the beliefs of much of her extended family mean she has little contact with them.

“I don’t really speak to them as much. I kind of cut them off due to my identity,” she says.

Using TikTok, where she has almost two million followers, Yasmin has been open about her experience of being a transgender black woman as well as making it as an actress.

Growing up in the “mud of Manchester”, she says school was tough but she was able to relive it in a different way while playing Elle in Heartstopper.

“I didn’t go to drama school, I didn’t have the privilege to see theatre shows every weekend,” she says.

Yasmin says she’s “super grateful” that her roles so far have let her experience “a little bit of what I’ve missed as a person growing up”.

Yasmin Finney, 20, as Rose in Doctor Who. Rose has short curly hair and brown eyes. She wears a denim jacket over a green jumper. She has a serious expression and is pictured inside in dark surroundings.

Yasmin says she’s received online hate after being announced as Rose Noble in Doctor Who

Yasmin was born in 2003, two years before her now co-stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate were first cast in Doctor Who.

It was their performances as The Doctor and Donna Noble – Rose’s mum – that first introduced Yasmin to the Whoniverse as a child.

“I used to be obsessed with David Tennant and Catherine Tate,” she says.

Now they’ve reprised their roles for the 60th anniversary specials alongside Yasmin, she says “it’s a bit weird” to think about her fandom.

“But it’s just an honour to be with the greats making something so magical.”

Also making up an important part of the cast in those formative years was Billie Piper who played Rose Tyler and it didn’t go unnoticed by fans that Yasmin’s character is also called Rose.

“Everyone was like oh my God she’s taken Billie Piper’s role, what about Billie Piper? What’s happened? What’s happened?

“No, guys, I’m simply just named after Rose.”

But that added pressure of being aligned with such a beloved character, as well as her trans identity, meant that for Yasmin there has been a downside to being cast in a dream role: online trolls.

“Any sort of franchise that has been going years and you get a black trans woman playing the role, people are going to have their opinions,” she says.

“It’s so funny because when I get a hate comment, it’ll be: ‘Your acting was so bad and I hate trans people’.

“Fair enough you had one opinion, but then when you tie my identity into it, it’s just kind of unfair.”

She can’t control the haters, but she can control her response and so Yasmin says she’s just focused on protecting her mental health and acing the role.

“Ultimately, I just want to deliver a good performance,” she says.

“I want people to laugh, I want people to smile, I want people to cry. And also I just want to be good representation for people that haven’t had it.”

The need for representation is an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away soon for Yasmin.

Both as Elle and Rose, she is a trans actress playing a trans character.

She hopes to be a role model for people like her growing up trans but at the same time, she hopes she’ll be able to play a variety of roles.

Debates around which actors should play which roles should be a thing of the past, she thinks.

Actor Eddie Redmayne previously said playing a transgender character in 2015 film The Danish Girl was “a mistake”, after some felt a trans actor should have been cast in the role.

“I think there needs to be such a more open space for any actor,” Yasmin says.

“If you’re a good actor, you’re a good actor. It doesn’t matter your identity, your sexuality, if you can sell a story, you can sell a story.”

The third and final Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special, The Giggle, will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from 18:30 GMT on Saturday 9 December

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