AE: What is it about Naomi and Emily that you love?
Kat: So much of Emily’s story was about finding herself. In our first series, she was unsure about her sexuality, unsure where she stood in her relationship with Katie, but she was brave enough to figure that out. She did figure out she’s gay, she broke away from her relationship with her twin. She’s quite strong.
Lily: I like Naomi’s not afraid to be different, because at that age, all a girl wants to do is to fit. Naomi never wanted to fit in, which makes her quite brave. Naomi really does have a big heart. And, well, I also thought she was quite funny. I don’t know if my performance was really funny, but when I read the scripts, Naomi always made me laugh. And, you know, anyone Cook would take seriously, that’s a strong personality. I do think Naomi was strong. She became very strong. And I don’t think there are enough strong female characters on television.
AE: What’s different about them in Skins Fire?
Kat: In Fire, we get to see that Emily has found herself professionally, which I quite enjoyed.
Lily: They’re not kids anymore. There are actual consequences for their actions. Naomi can’t get a job, and she’s just sort of sitting around the house. She is different from where we left her off. She’s a bit lost. She doesn’t know what she’s doing, or what she wants to do with her life. Naomi and Emily are still together. Very much together. But Emily is away, doing an internship in New York. Things aren’t perfect, but that’s real life, isn’t it?
AE: Kat, was it bizarre for you to be on a Skins set without Meg?
Kat: Yes. It was really, really, really weird. I really would have prefered if I could have seen her. I know they had a set amount of time they could film, but it would have been nice to see where Katie was, in the story. Of course, Emily is only in it a small amount, because the main story is about Effy, so Emily’s story is sort of a sidebar, but yes, I would have loved to see where Katie ended up.
AE: One of the things that always makes me feel sorry for you guys is that you have to cry all the time when you play Naomi and Emily. And we know something tragic happens to one of them in this series, so I’m guessing you’re crying all over again. What is it with you guys and the tears?
Lily: I don’t know! I keep asking myself that! It seems like every character I play, I have to do a deep, emotional crying scene — at least one. I don’t know why I keep getting parts like that. But I actually enjoy it because I do like playing three-dimensional characters who aren’t just stick figures on a page.
Kat: [Laughs] It seems like every job I get — really, every job I’ve had in the past three years — I end up having to cry. I’m kind of used to it, and yes, I had to cry more this time around.
AE: I can’t let you guys off the phone without telling you that Naomi and Emily have done more for gay teenagers than any two TV characters I’ve ever known. When you started filming Skins, even just five years ago, the world was a completely different place for gay people, and so much of the sweeping social change we’re seeing today is a direct result of the cultural conversations we have had with our televisions. And you two have been so very important in that conversation. You have empowered and inspired lesbian and bisexual women across generations.
Kat: You know, it would be really cool to think we did [have a part in that]. It would be really cool. I know things have changed, and I definitely know that Naomi and Emily have had an effect on people. Lily and I have had so much feedback — so much — from people telling us Naomi and Emily helped them survive or come out — Lily even had a woman in her 40s who was married with kids say the story helped her come out. If that’s what our story meant, if that’s what it’s done, if we’ve been even a small part of the change, then it’s amazing.
Skins Fire premires July 1st on E4 at 10:00 pm.