At only 24 years of age, you’d think Myha’la Herrold would find filming sex scenes pretty daunting.
Compound that with the fact her first ever explicit shoot came hand-in-hand with her debut TV role on HBO’s buzzy new series Industry.
The newcomer plays the lead role of Harper Stern in the corporate drama, now streaming on Binge, which follows a group of new recruits for one of London’s largest investment banks, Pierpoint & Co.
There’s a whole lot of sex, drugs and scandalous office politics.
It wasn’t just her inexperience on camera that made Herrold “excited” to dive into such a salacious world. There was a pointed reason why she was eager to appear naked for the world to see.
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“I was excited to be an othered body on screen,” she told news.com.au
“I was always like growing up, ‘I don’t look like that.’ I’m kind of straight up and down, I’m really short, I’ve got no tits.
“I wish I had seen someone who has tattoos or, you know whatever, on screen being intimate. I know how it affects me when I see it and when I feel represented on screen.
“And the kind of intimacy and sex we see black women engaging in on screen, I was excited to feel a part of that conversation. It can open doors to, ‘Everyone has sex and everyone is different, let’s just rip that taboo away.’”
In addition to a greater purpose, Herrold says she also relished in learning the logistics of how explicit TV is made, from what substance they use as cocaine to choreographed sex scenes.
“I personally was so excited to do all of these things. From a technical aspect, I’m fascinated about how the business works,” she said.
“You wonder, ‘How do they do that? What are they snorting?’ I’d heard it’s sugar but thank god it wasn’t. We used powdered lactate. So, a powdered milk derivative. Which was strange, it’s quite dry.
“I definitely had a fair dose of nervousness before (the sex scenes) happened but when I read the script, there was never a moment I thought, ‘This is just being done because if they don’t people will stop watching.’
“That’s not to say they’re not shocking, because they’re pretty crazy, but if you’re paying attention there’s so much you learn about each character and why they are the way they are.”
RELATED: Industry review
From first-time creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, who both have a finance background, Industry’s eight episodes aired in the US in November and December last year to critical and commercial praise.
The pilot was directed by US actress and writer Lena Dunham, who now has a firm spot in Herrold’s DMs.
“I love Lena so much. It was the greatest jot to meet and work with her,” Herrold said.
“She is one of the most generous, kind, fun-loving and just so full of integrity as a human being, as a business person and an artist.
“Watching her command a room was so inspiring and made me excited to want to direct. She leads with grace and keeps everything fun, and she’s really clear about what she wants.
“On top of that, we just get along really well. We text and we talk. It was a pleasure to get to know her personally.”
While Herrold admits she’s still trying to wrap her brain around the financial jargon, the young actress says the series proved popular because it’s ultimately about relationships.
A big part of it is also shining a spotlight on corporate culture and its impact on young minds.
“Whether we like it or not, toxicity reigns in working environments. It just exists,” she said.
“I’ve totally experienced those things. Like ageism. I’ve definitely experienced mostly patronising, mostly men, saying some sh*t to me, or acting like they need to teach me something, that kind of sh*t is super irritating.
“I’m doing this job, I’ve been hired to do it.
“But this is what I respect about the show, it does a good job of highlighting those things happen from the bottom up.”
Industry is streaming on Binge