Photographer: Barley Nimmo

Getting intimate with Top Boy’s Jazzy De Lisser

Photographer: Barley Nimmo

We had the honour of speaking with Jazzy de Lisser, a gifted actress known for her roles in Hilma, Game of Thrones and more critically acclaimed – her documentary about living with Hepatitis C. De Lisser, who is well-known for her many appearances in both cinema and television, has graced our screens with performances in everything from historical dramas to award winning short films. She has won over audiences all around the world with her kind heart and immense talent. Her influences and projects have left an indelible mark on her career.

Jazzy de Lisser opened our interview by sharing a glimpse of her personal life, giving us a taste of her current vacation in the lovely Ibiza. The laid-back atmosphere set the tone for a vibrant discussion. From there, we delved into a quick-fire round of some of her favourites, exploring her taste in movies, music, and fashion.

What’s your favourite film?

True Romance just popped to mind but I think that’s because I watched it last week. It’s with Patricia Arquette, Christian Slater and Brad Pitt. It was one of the best Romance/Crime films! But I have been influenced by so many films through out my life, its impossible to choose just one!!

Who’s your favourite singer or music artist?

It’s hard to just have one. I just saw Elton John at Glastonbury, which was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. But also as I grew up in Jamaica, so I love reggae music. That’s always like my kind of, my go to it puts me in a good mood 

What’s your favourite go to song at the moment?

I love the song ‘police and thieves’ – Which always reminds me of my stepdad

Who’s your favourite fashion designer?

I love vintage clothes!! I also love my mom’s brand, it’s called Serena Butte London. I wear it all the time because it’s comfy and chic at the same time. So it’s the best of both!

Photographer: Barley Nimmo
Photographer: Barley Nimmo

Your mum is a fashion designer. Your stepdad was a Grand Prix competitor. How did all of that impact your life?

I grew up in Jamaica until I was seven, and then my parents broke up and I moved back to London with my mum. My stepdad was the most amazing man ever. Sadly, he passed away two years ago but he was a racing car driver and he just had this kind of tenacity and drive for life I’d never seen. He really believed in me as an artist, I guess you have to have that mentality when being an athlete – to not give up and keep going. With everything artistic I picked it up from my parents which is really nice. My mom is a lot more stylish than I am and is always helping me get ready. I’m a bit more of a tomboy when it comes to this stuff so I’d be lost without my mom. My stepdad, he just had like I said this kind of drive for life – his whole thing was to never give up. My necklace says that. So I never give up.

You grew up with hepatitis C and subsequently made a documentary on it, what does your diagnosis mean to you?

I was diagnosed when I was two with type C. I got it from my mum at birth, she didn’t even realise she had it until they found out I had. I think as I was a kid, it grew with me. For some reason it developed very quickly. When I was five, I had to do my first round of treatment and then we stopped because it wasn’t working and I was just getting really sick. I went back to the hospital and they were like you need to do your second round of treatment ASAP because if you don’t, by the time you’re in your mid twenties, you will have the liver like a sixty year old alcoholic. I then decided to start the next treatment and I did it until I was 16 for a year and half. 

At the time I was obsessed with filming everything. I just always had a video camera. My mom’s friend told me I could really make something out of it and so that’s what I did. Sadly, my treatment didn’t work and then it got to the end and I just wanted to throw the whole thing away. I realised that it just kind of proved my point more. I ended up putting out the documentary. I think it really set me on my path to acting because i became comfortable infront of a camera. 

Where are you today with your Hep c? 

When I was 24, I did my third round of treatment and I’m cured. There was a new drug called Harvoni. It’s kind of like a miracle drug. It was just one pill a day, Whereas when I was younger, I was having to inject myself every couple of days and lost the majority of my hair. This drug basically has a mild amount of side effects and is for three months as opposed to a year and a half. 

You were in Hilma, could you tell us a bit about the film and your character?


So Hilma was an artist. One of the first modernist artists and she was never known for her work while she was alive. Then when she died, she said ‘You can’t show my work for 30 years because no one will understand it’. Anyway they realise now that she was a pioneer of her time. Hilma believed that she was a vessel for spirits. She lost her sister when she was very young and that gave her a connection to the other side. I play her mother’s nurse who becomes her kind of life partner. She was believed to be A lesbian.

It’s a really beautiful story about a woman that were very, very ahead of time, a group of women supporting each other and working together. I did have to speak German and Hilma and I will remember those lines until I die. I don’t even speak a word of German.

You starred in Game Of Thrones, what was that like?

GOT was literally one of my first auditions after Drama school. And I remember going in. It was mad. I had to run on the spot and then pretend I was being hit by arrows and falling on the floor, crying and begging for my life. But it was such an amazing experience to go straight on to something like that.

I already knew Alfie Allen (plays Theon Greyjoy)  before I got there and that was really nice because all my scenes were with him and I’m still good friends with him. I met all the others there too, it was so nice they are like a family. It’s just amazing a show like that, none of them had any idea how it was going to go and then it became this huge phenomenon!

You have finished filming scenes for Top Boy, is there anything you can tell us about the new season?

I don’t really know what I can say about it but other than that I feel so lucky to be a part of it. It was a really, really amazing experience. Everyone is just incredibly talented, the cast and crew.

Was there anyone you were really excited to work with on set?

I mean, all of them. I just think they’re so talented. I think it’s one of the best English shows at the moment and that’s really exciting. I felt quite nervous on my first day, but they were all so nice

What is your character like? 

Oh, you’ll have to watch it! It’s on Netflix now!!

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been writing a film which I’m really excited about. I’ve been writing it with a director friend of mine who I did my first ever film with. It’s about the online world and young girls. It’s based on a true story. I read it and sent it to her straight away as I thought it would be such a good idea to maybe produce it into a film or series. It has been a really cool experience so far and we are about to start filming soon. What advice would you give to aspiring actors, directors or producers?I think acting is really hard and you get a lot of rejection but if you really love it, you just can’t stop. It’s in you. I think I would say what my stepdad always said to me, which is ‘never give up’. rejection is redirection. use thoughs “nos” to drive you to get the YES work hard and study, watch and learn as much as you can, Keep following your dreams!

Journalist: Gita Cellei

Junior Copywriter: Wynter McNamee