An interview with Sofia Black-D’Elia


AE: Skins fans all have love/hate relationships with their favorite characters. What’s your love/hate relationship with Tea?

SBD: [Laughs] What I love about Tea is that after the second episode she had no idea who she was anymore, no idea where she was going. And she never gives up trying to find herself. She struggles with it for the whole season, but she keeps searching. What drives me crazy is that she’s very unapologetic. I was really hoping she would apologize to Michelle.

AE: She apologized to Abbud, didn’t she? After he fell off that tower and almost died?

SBD: [Laughs] Yes, she definitely apologized to Abbud. Maybe it’s just because I’m friends with Rachel [Thevenard]. I just kept thinking, “Tea really should say ‘I’m sorry!’”

AE: Well, juxtaposed to Tony, Tea looked like a saint. He was even more unapologetic than her — if that’s possible. Apart from all the shouting from fans, I really did love Tea and Tony’s dynamic because it’s always interesting to see what happens when people who are so similar get enmeshed in each other’s lives. 

SBD: Yeah, whenever people say they don’t understand the draw between Tony and Tea, I always think about that merry-go-round scene. When James and I read it, we looked at each other like, “This scene is just incredible.” Because they’re the only ones who are going to question each other. No one questions Tony or Tea, ever. And throughout the season, I always went back to that place where he was the first one to challenge her.

AE: Right, and I mean, I’m 31, and that’s as heady to me now as it would have been when I was 16 — meeting someone who matches up to me.

SBD: Absolutely, and I’m only 19 so I don’t have a lifetime of experience or anything, but that’s rare to come by: someone challenging you and raising you to a different level. And that’s why it’s hard for Tea to let go. She tries so hard to force her way into that relationship, even though it’s destined to fail.

AE: Yeah, and that’s so true of being a teenager, thinking, you know, “This is never going to happen to me again!”

SBD: Absolutely. Your initial reaction when you have a crush at that age is, “This is my only shot at love! I have to make it work!”

AE: I think maybe that’s the reaction at every age. I’ve seen 60 year old women lose their minds over a crush.

SBD: [Laughs] Yes. And it was hard for me to hear people say, “Well, I wouldn’t be upset about Tea and Tony if she had been showcased as a bisexual before the show.” I think that’s an unfortunate attitude because the beauty of Skins is that no one fits into a box. No one can be labeled. You can’t just say, “Oh, Michelle’s a popular girl” because she’s not. Even in the UK series, there isn’t a single character that stayed true to their stereotypes.

AE: [Laughs] Even the lesbians.

SBD: Yes, exactly. The thing about Naomi and Emily that was so beautiful to me is that their love story wasn’t like anything I ever expected.

AE: What was your favorite episode of this season?

SBD: To watch or to film?

AE: Both.

SBD: My favorite episode to film was “Abbud.” Ron [Mustafaa] is the funniest person alive. And we were out in the woods and it was so beautiful. It was just a wonderful feeling being out there with these people I’d come to care about. And my favorite episode to watch was the finale. We were all in the writers room. And it was really sad, but it was also emotional to see how much we’d all progressed. I’m so proud of my best friends. We’re all proud of each other. The finale finally felt like it was our own show.

AE: OK, let’s talk about Tea and Betty. There was a bit of resolution in the finale. You killed that final scene: Tea sitting outside her hospital room wrestling with herself and then finally going in and stripping down and getting into bed with Betty.

SBD: Tea had really reached her breaking point with Betty, I think. For most of the season, it seemed to me that Betty was a foil to Tony, in that here’s a guy who has what she wants emotionally but not physically, and here’s a girl who has what she wants physically but not emotionally. But I think by the end of the season, Tea just wants to give in and stop fighting and say, “This is where I belong, and I have to try.”

AE: I have to mention the scene with Tea’s grandmother in Tea’s episode, when she sort of comes out as a lesbian in this moment of cloudy lucidity. I was shocked by that scene in a wonderful way.

SBD: Yeah, that was one of my happiest days. I remember leaving the set that day and feeling so proud to have been a part of that. The writing was so heartbreaking and she was so incredible. It was one of those things where we were just lying there and the cameras were rolling. You know, with Skins, it’s sometimes an event to just do one scene because there’s so many of us, but this one was so simple. It was really quiet. It was not hard for me to start crying sitting next to her, just listening to what she was saying.

AE: It’s making me teary just thinking about it. So, what’s next for you?

SBD: [Laughs] I’m just auditioning and crossing my fingers and hoping Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Morrison and Emma Watson don’t take every part away from me.

AE: Well, my fingers are crossed for a second season of Skins. I hope I’m talking to you about Tea again this time next year.

SBD: Me too! Tea has a lot of life left in her.

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