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Jessie Cave Makes Brilliant, Honest Comedy About Feeling Insecure

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Jessie Cave is a 28-year-old comedian, actress, illustrator and mum from London. She got her first break in the Harry Potter film series when she was just 21, playing Ron Weasley's love interest, Lavender Brown. Now, seven years and several big TV and theatre gigs later, it seems fair to say that Jessie's established her most entertaining character to date: herself. In a new show called I Loved Her, currently in its third run at Soho Theatre, Jessie bares all.

I Loved Her is a neuroses-fuelled monologue about the intricacies of human interaction; a story of Jessie's life told with the help of shadow puppets, signs made out of her doodles, and her very own book of confessions. It starts with the one-night stand that got Jessie pregnant, weaves its way through the emotions drawn out by her first big love, pauses to reflect on her online presence, and then catapults you into motherhood with her. All in the space of one hour.

I saw the show this week, and cried with laughter at the part where Jessie accidentally "likes" her current boyfriend's ex's girlfriend's Instagram post from the ancient past. An instant fan, I decided to give Jessie a ring to find out more about I Loved Her, what she's up to next, and what happens to your social media use once you've become a mum.
Hi Jessie! Let's start at the beginning – how did you get into performing?
I went to art school and did illustration. My mum put me on a kids' acting agency and I ended up on an advert immediately, and then I got another job and another and then I was suddenly in Harry Potter; I was an actor without meaning to be. I see myself as an illustrator, foremost – I’ve always drawn and drawing is my life and what I want to do forever – but I realised I needed to make my own [performance] work so I started doing comedy, making YouTube videos, and built my way up to doing my first hour [show] at Edinburgh Fringe. My twenties have been about getting here and this show is the story of my dating life and creative life so far.

So, why’s it called I Loved Her?
Because my boyfriend has said that sentence to other people and I can’t get over it...

Ha. In that sense I guess it does sum up the sentiment of the show – which is really about giving voice to the things people wouldn’t admit to – like jealousy, for example. The honesty of your YouTube videos and show are what make them so brilliant, but do you ever worry about putting too much out there in the public domain?
That’s something I had to think about when I had the baby. My instinct was to Instagram the shit out of him, and I did at first, but then I thought, 'Oh God, I’m now responsible for this human and he didn’t choose to go on Instagram, he doesn’t even know what it is!' I had to think about whether I wanted to include the baby’s face. I decided not to, and set up a private Instagram full of pictures of him that no one can see. just a few friends and family, literally about 10 people.

So your social media use has changed now?

Before I was pregnant, I was in an awful phase – incredibly neurotic and looking up people I liked – I lived online vicariously and it was really important to get that across. Having a baby completely cured me of my social networking anxiety over life online. I can’t spend a huge portion of my day stalking someone online– which sounds severe– but people do it all the time, it’s the norm, it’s part of their daily internet diet. That had to be the root of the show.

A lot of what's in the show is underwritten by feelings of neurosis. Does performing assuage your anxiety a bit?
Yes, definitely! It’s been so cathartic. It’s like my diary on stage – it makes me really appreciate things about my boyfriend Alfie, and helps me to see how annoying I am. But even though it’s so personal to me and my story, it’s quite relatable I think – we are all usually in the same boat when it comes to relationships. Usually my drawings are of the things that we wish we could say but can't. Imagine if you could actually say, “WHY AREN’T YOU TELLING ME YOU LOVE ME?” It’s so liberating to say things out loud.

It seems like a really good moment for brutally honest, and funny women in theatre. Have you got any contemporaries you’d recommend?
I’m quite solitary, I’m scared of feeling like I’m copying anybody or someone else’s work is filtering into my mind. But there are so many girls at the moment doing amazing things.... Lolly Adefope, Mae Martin – she’s very honest, Natasia Demetriou and Ellie White... Loads of people... there are a lot of people coming out.

How do you feel about your role in Harry Potter now, is it a blessing or a curse?
If I was fed up of hearing about it then I shouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t done Harry Potter and, the more time that goes by, the more I appreciate it. I realise now that I was a baby – I was 21 and 22, but at the time, everyone was much younger than me. You learn a lot in your twenties and I found doing Harry Potter formative, especially as they keep you there for a long time doing very little. That’s when I drew – I drew for everyone on set and figured out that’s what I wanted to do. The time I spend sitting around on sets is always my most productive as an artist.

What’s next for you professionally?
I want to make a feature film – that’s my goal in the next two years. It’s a long process. It will be similar to my work so far. I’ll play myself and it’ll be honest.

Get tickets for I Loved Her at Soho Theatre here
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