Three Little Birds | Rochelle Neil, Yazmin Belo, Saffron Coomber

Actors Rochelle Neil, Yazmin Belo, and Saffron Coomber are all extremely talented individuals in their own unique way and they collectively shine in the new ITV drama-comedy, Three Little Birds.

The show which was written by Sir Lenny Henry tells the tale of Leah (Rochelle), Hosanna (Yazmin), and Chantrelle (Saffron) as they make an exciting leap into the unknown. The trio leave Jamaica in 1957 to search for a better life in the UK. During this journey they experience the highs and horrible lows that many black immigrants had to face at the time. Undoubtedly, each actor has brought something special to the television series, using their experience and talent to elevate Three Little Birds to a whole new level.

Rochelle first started acting at the age of 13-years-old and has gone onto build a solid reputation as a gifted working actor. You may recognise her from HBO’s period fantasy series, The Nevers or perhaps the tense World War II drama, Das Boot. Either way, Rochelle’s positive outlook on the industry, warm demeanour, and thoughtful approach to her craft is exceptional. When it comes to Yazmin as an actor, you would never guess that Three Little Birds is her television debut. The Londoner is a BRIT school alumni with a lush singing voice, she grew up cutting her teeth in musical theatre roles but now has pivoted to on-screen performances. She may be the ‘rookie’ of the group but she has brought a seemingly innate talent to her role.

Saffron also started in the acting industry at a young age and she is an intelligent, charming, and empathetic individual with a real love of books. Throughout the years, she has appeared most notably in EastEnders, Tracy Beaker Returns, and in numerous stage shows. She perfectly encapsulates the care-free and optimistic character of Chantrelle and is a joy to watch.

In conversation with 1883 Magazine’s Cameron Poole, Rochelle, Yazmin, and Saffron chat about Three Little Birds, how their respective roles have impacted them personally, and what they admire about each other.

Yazmin: jacket, trousers by KATA HARATYM, top by AMI PARIS, necklace, earrings by TASAKI.
Saffron: dress by NANUSHKA, rings by ANANYA, TASAKI, earrings, bracelet by TASAKI,
Rochelle: sleeveless blazer by AMI PARIS, skirt by NANUSHKA,, necklace by DOSIS GBC.

Rochelle, Yazmin, and Saffron, first of all thanks for speaking with 1883 Magazine. Let’s start with a chat about Three Little Birds, why did each of you gravitate to your respective roles?

Rochelle: For me, I have a huge love of period dramas. I grew up watching Catherine Cookson movies with my mum. I think career wise, that’s what I’m always drawn to, those sort of scripts. I’m in love with complex women of the past, that was a big draw. Then second for me was then reading a script that was so close to my family heritage to the point where I felt like Sir Lenny Henry had been following my family around for the last 60 years. 

It’s like how does he know all of this? My grandmother came over with her sister and a friend, on my mum’s side, and then my dad was born in Jamaica and then came over when he was five. So it felt very similar. I don’t know if that’s a spoiler, but you get the gist. Those are my two things. I was like, I love exploring the past. I’m such a history geek. But yeah, they’re my two things. It was the history aspect of it. I’m such a history nerd. Then playing a role that’s so close to my heritage, just when does that ever happen?

Yazmin: I think it was the familiarity of Hosanna Drake. All three ladies are from a parish in Jamaica called Clarendon. That is where my mother’s from and all her 11 siblings. My grandfather is a pastor, and my grandmother was a first lady. When I was reading the script, the language was just so familiar. The sermons, the bible quotes were just stuff that I heard grown up within storytelling, within my aunties telling me about what they used to get up to back home. 

It was super familiar, which meant that tapping into something felt intimate. It became a passion project for all of us, but also something that was quite innate. It was easy to tap into, if I can say so myself. Yeah, I had direct contact. My direct lineage, because I’m a Drake, I think I was quite lucky in that sense to get a role so close to home.

Saffron: I was really intrigued by Chantrelle. She’s essentially a dream character. She’s the sort of person I’ve always wanted to play, someone who is bold and confident and smart and has such a zest for life and meets life with joie de vivre that I really respect. On top of all of that, considering the period that we’re in, I just really thought she was ahead of her time. When I think about the ladies in my Jamaican family, the characterisation of Chantrelle doesn’t really come to mind.

There’s such a strong presence of religion and patriarchy in Jamaica, let alone the Caribbean, let alone in the world. To meet someone who is young in 1957, inspired by the starlets that she sees on screen, wants to be an actress herself, wants to be a star, believes she can do it, doesn’t see why it wouldn’t be able to happen for her—I love that drive, and I love that kind of self. I just thought she was really a surprise to encounter in the world that we’re in.

The story and characters of Leah (Rochelle), Hosanna (Yazmin), and Chantrelle (Saffron) are fictional but given the fact that this is Sir Lenny Henry’s first time writing ad producing a TV drama, one that is based on something close to his heart, his mother and her experiences of arriving in the UK from Jamaica in 1957, what was it like specifically working with Lenny on this project and did he offer you any pieces of advice during the production’s filming?

Yazmin: I always say this, I think the first time I met Lenny, he didn’t give you a chance or any air of any judgement. As he’s a sir, and because I only ever knew him as being an icon, I didn’t see his come up, by the time I was old enough to know who he was, he was already a superstar. He didn’t give much time for you to feel that you had to call him Sir Lenny Henry. It was just straightaway familiarity, laughter,  and love, he exudes love. As we got that out of the way, it became easier for us to work together and for us to have a professional relationship. He did that really wonderfully. Then, of course, it aided what we needed to do next, which was to do a scene together or act. 

It was nice. I think the first time I met him, I went in for a handshake, and he said, ‘I’ll give you a hug. What are you talking about? I’ll give you a hug,’ which broke all the kinds of ices that needed to be broken. That is my first thought when I think of Lenny and what he brought. Yeah, he just made it easier for us to work together and to crack on.

Rochelle: Yeah, I found him really uplifting and very generous. He gave me a massive pep talk. I remember the first time I met him was over Zoom call. I had been cast, but I was cast remotely, and I couldn’t meet him. He’d been like, “I’ve been watching your work now for a month, overseeing and stuff, and Rochelle, we really believe in you. We really believe that you can do this. You really have to take the bull by the horns, just grab it and go for it. This is your show, you have to own it.”

I was very appreciative of that pep talk because I think it can be very intimidating to play a character inspired by a Sir’s parent or family and stuff. It’s very intimidating. From the start, he was always like, “Go for it. No excuses. You got this”, which was really great.

Saffron: I remember we were lucky enough to have a rehearsal week before shooting and just the encouragement we got in the room from Lenny and Charles, Charles directed the first two episodes of the show,  was just to run with it He said it’s ours, and there’s a reason why we are sitting in the room. There’s a reason why we’ve been chosen to tell this story. So trust yourself, and back yourself, and take up space, which was really emboldening. When Lenny did come to set, sometimes he would just turn up. You weren’t really prepared that he would come. He would just be there. Then all of a sudden, you’re like.… [takes a deep breath and exhales].

 But he would always come up to you afterwards and be like “That was really excellent”. Even if you hadn’t seen him in a while, of course, he would come up to you and make sure to say to you, “That scene, you did an excellent job”, he was just so supportive. When you’re away from home and you’re working for a good three months on a subject matter that can be really distressing sometimes, those nuggets of support and encouragement really meant a lot.

Yazmin Belo: jacket by AHLUWALIA, dress by L’AGENCE, warrings by ANANYA, ring by LAG WORLD.
Saffron Coomber: dress by by AHLUWALIA, earrings by ANANYA, ring by TASAKI.
Rochelle Neil: top by HELLESSY, gloves by HANDSOME STOCKHOLM, earrings by TASAKI.
Yazmin: jacket, trousers by KATA HARATYM, top by AMI PARIS, necklace, earrings by TASAKI.
Saffron: dress by NANUSHKA, rings by ANANYA, TASAKI, earrings, bracelet by TASAKI,
Rochelle: sleeveless blazer by AMI PARIS, skirt by NANUSHKA,, necklace by DOSIS GBC.

So I’ve seen the first episode. Without giving anything away, there is such a sense of optimism and excitement about the future shown from the trio. Then the horrible reality of what moving to the UK as black women during this time period soon kicks in. But through any of the hardships they are unwaveringly resilient no matter what they face or no matter what some of the characters have left behind in Jamaica. How have playing these characters impacted you all individually?

Yazmin: I think it just allowed me to understand what the people that were here did when they were here. Often when I think about my ancestry and the women that were here before me, specifically the women, when my mum would tell these stories, there was this whimsical air, romanticised fictional approach to when she used to tell us stuff. That was just to keep us safe. I do thank my mum for that. But I think reading books and looking into the history of the women that were once here, it just allowed me to just have so much more gratitude, love and empathy towards my direct sisterhood, like my female friends, my aunties, my sisters, and just honouring them whilst they’re here.

I think the women that were there, they were all adjusting to a life that they’d only experience for the first time. They did it with poise and with ease and hen through doing that, raised a generation of women that are now here. Some of the stories that I hear now because of this project, I’ve gone back and I’ve asked my mum questions and my aunties more questions. As I’m older now, there are certain conversations we can have about just how much they had to put up with and just how much they overcame.

I think if I didn’t do this project, these conversations just wouldn’t be happening if my debut was Doctor Who or something else, I just wouldn’t want to have these conversations because it wasn’t the world, It wasn’t the project that I was doing. Straight after filming, I had some really uncomfortable conversations with my mum and my aunties, and they told me how it was. That is the impact because of that now, I just love differently. I think this project has allowed me to love differently.

Rochelle: I think it’s one of those things where I always say that with jobs with roles, they come into your life at a time when you need them to, or there’s something happening in your world, or something on some level that connects. I think definitely for me, I just had a baby myself, so the whole exploration of motherhood was a huge thing. My kid was seven months old when we started filming and hat had unlocked a new fear, the fear of losing babies. They don’t come with a manual. Playing a mother was a really intense thing. I think there was a reason why this role came to me in that time, because a lot of Leah’s mission and her deepest wants are all connected to her children.

So that made sense but I think in terms of myself, again, with her and the show in general, I think it was very cathartic for me because I had shut down a lot of my (this is going to sound terrible) but my Jamaican side. I think as a Black Brit, you’re required to assimilate, and I was really good at that, I think [laughs], of pretending I’m the token and just like everyone else. I think this allowed me to be accepted in my full space and not have to over explain myself, not have to silence any areas of my personality. Yeah, I felt very safe on this set in a way that I maybe haven’t before in jobs. I think that’s maybe to do with the diversity of the cast, crew, our producers, staff, as well as the subject matter and the scripts that we were exploring. Yeah, it was very cathartic in that way.

Saffron: Yeah, just jumping off of what Rochelle said, I did Small Axe with Steve McQueen. I was in the Lovers Rock episode, which was my first taste of a period project on screen. Being able to now twice have told specific stories linked to my heritage, the fact that we are here, and the nuance and specific elements that come with that, it means a lot to be invited into that space and to be seen in that space. I think, at least with me, I can count on one hand the hum that I get when I read a script that aligns with my story and aligns with how I’ve come to be. 

I think with a script like this, a character like this, I’ll echo again what I said, we were just encouraged. I was encouraged to bring all elements of myself rather than trying to shoehorn them in. To be able to have such a liberation within a role within the world, while still making it our guiding light whilst making sure we tell the truth and be honest and be as close to the bone as we were able to be with the subject matter and take real good care of this story and these people. 

I think with Chantrelle, we first meet her when from her perspective, her world is at her feet and she can move in any direction. But then she quickly finds out that that’s not true, or that’s not going to happen in the way that she thought. Going back to what Yaz said, the realisation of community is something that I am going through in my own life, and I really admire how resilient she is. Although it may look like she’s lost something, she gained so much through her sisters, through coming together and realising that there’s so much more strength as a unit than an individual. I really admire her for that, and I try and take that lesson where I can [laughs].

Yazmin – Can we just talk about how incredible your singing voice is, I believe you started singing during your time at Stage Coach as a child. Tell us all about your passion for singing and whether you’d like to try more musical roles in your career?

Yazmin: Yeah, when I was in trouble growing up, my mum used to sing…and I hope I don’t get in trouble saying this… but she used to sing to “go and fetch the belt”. Music was just such a massive part of my life. During this interview, I’m at my parents’ house currently, and I’m looking at my dad’s saxophone, he’s a saxophonist. Music was a place of mourning, happiness and more. We used it when my parents were in confrontation. My mum would turn up some Bob Marley really loud to drown out whatever they just did. I think music has been such a safety mechanism. So when I got to about five-years-old, I went to Stage Coach, and from there, I went to BRIT school and I studied musical theatre there and quickly realised I couldn’t dance as well as I could sing and act. So, I just thought actually, I should probably call it a day. 

I’ve experienced musical theatre but there’s just something really wonderful about watching it, I’ve got some really awesome friends that are triple threats and can do all three. But I had a conversation with my agent the other day, and it was a really transparent conversation. I just spoke to her and said, “I don’t think I want to do musical theatre anymore”. It’s a medium that I’m really interested to watch and really interested to ingest, but not necessarily excited to involve myself in anymore. I think if there are any screen opportunities to be able to sing and act at the same time then that is a dream. Hosanna does a little bit of that in Three Litte Birds but again it very much aligns with her story because she came from the church. 

So are often be times where she has to lead the sermon, and her dad may call on her and say, ‘Lead us in song.’ That’s something that resides in her, and it resided in me. I sang a little bit in church, but I think I did a bulk of my singing with mates at school.  We would busk a lot around London. Then professionally, I was in a show last year at the Birmingham Rep called Coming to England about Floella Benjamin. Again, it was very similar, it was about this world. It was about her transition and coming over from Trinidad to England. It was musical, and it was really fun because she’s Trinidadian, it was mixed with Calypso soundtracks, it was beautiful.

Yazmin: jacket, trousers by KATA HARATYM, top by AMI PARIS, heels by CASADEI, necklace, earrings by TASAKI.
Yazmin: Jackety by EWELINA SZYMANSKA, earrings by SAAD Collection, rings by MISHO DESIGNS.

Rochelle – I really enjoyed how you discussed acting on the Hell Yes podcast not too long ago, especially when you mentioned that even a small baby step is still a sign of progress. As you started your career at the age of thirteen, how long has it taken you to attain this realistic and positive outlook on the acting industry and would you say becoming a parent has positively affected you and your work in any sort of way?

Rochelle: I think it’s because I trained as a child. Yeah, I went to Italia Conti from the age of 13. I think in a weird way, when you do it from a kid, in my experience, I shouldn’t generalise, I should just speak about myself, but I feel like I grew that way. You had to otherwise it’d be too hard. For me, my biggest goal, you’ve probably heard on the podcast, is longevity. I always knew from 13. I was like, I don’t want to be some flash in the pan that has a really bright hot moment, ‘Oh, she’s so hot right now,’ and you never hear from me again. I was like, if I’m working consistently every year, which I’ve been really lucky and I have been since 13, then I’m good. Basically, long way round, I had to identify what success meant for myself. 

For me, it was longevity. Then in order to [have] longevity, I decided that I’m not going to rush it. I’m not going to force myself or panic myself into ‘by this age, I need to do this. And by that age, I need to do that.’ Just keep stepping, It’s good. You win some, you lose some, but I’m still in the game. I don’t think there was a specific moment where I suddenly felt that way. I think it’s always just been the case. I’ve always had a long term vision about this career. Then since becoming a parent, I mean, I’ve been nervous throughout press because I have a massive fear of coming across stupid. You know when you try and watch what you say so you just end up saying everything? But since becoming a parent, you don’t have time to over think it. Before, as an actress, it’s like you prepare the job, you do the job, and you beat yourself up. You can only do two of them now, because one of them, you have to look after your child. I have to do the job, so I might as well prepare. Do I beat myself up now?  No, I’m off cuddling my little baby. I think she’s given me a lot of perspective. 

In the moment, maybe I’ll panic but as soon as I leave the situation, it’s like it’s gone because I don’t have as much time. She’s helped  add to a very healthy viewpoint of this career because I just don’t give a shit really as much anymore. I love it. It’s amazing. But when you put it into perspective… I’ve been making a lot better decisions career wise since becoming a mother. Speaking about the perspective, again, it’s like this is time away from my baby, man. All the stuff has been good. All the emotions are there, but I think that’s hormones. Am I allowed to say that? But it’s all good becoming a mother has helped. It has really helped. 

Sorry, I’m going to go on a little bit of a feminist rant because you have a lot of pressure and felt this pressure from the society as a woman when you become a parent. I was filming The Nevers when I found out I was pregnant, and I was eight months pregnant with her when I wrapped on that show. Throughout the first half of my pregnancy, before I was even showing and still working, most people, not on set, but just your average person would be like, ‘Oh, no, you’re not going to be able to do this anymore.’ I was like, ‘These guys can make me look like I’m shooting fire out of my hands. They can hide a bump. I’m pregnant, I’m not sick’. When I then decided to go back into work as a parent, again, people are like, ‘Oh no, but what are you going to do with the baby?’ I’m like, ‘I’m going to pump milk in my trailer, put it in the fridge. When I go home, I’m going to give it to her. I’m going to get a nanny. My husband’s going to take paternity leave. We’re going to make it work.’ That’s sort of a feminist rant, but I’ve only become better. I’ve become braver and bolder and better. Life is so much better. Sorry, I’ll move on, thank you for asking that great question.

Saffron: Feminist truth, you’re not ranting about it. You’re telling the truth.

Rochelle: top, trousers by HELLESSY, gloves by HANDSOME STOCKHOLM, earrings by TASAKI, boots stylist own.
Rochelle: dress by AZZI & OSTA, earrings, ring by MAISON LUMIERE.

Please never apologise Rochelle, always speak your truth and as we all know the TV & film industry can have such ridiculous standards. It should’t be ‘game over’ if you have a baby.

Saffron: People don’t say that sort of thing if our male counterparts have kids as well, no one’s asking them those questions.

Rochelle: No, no, it’s weird. The thing is I literally haven’t stopped working since becoming a mother. It hasn’t affected my work, It has, but in a really lovely way. So it’s a shame really that was the mentality that I was hit with. I’m not to saying there aren’t some amazing allies in the industry. So on The Nevers, our showrunner and our producers, that made the Sopranos, like Ilene Landress, those people understand. They were women who just got it, HBO is run by women. I think that’s why all their shows are so amazing. I’m really feeling my feminist self today [laughs].

Saffron: Do it girl!

Saffron – As a book lover, who started a book club during the lockdown, do you have any books you would recommend? And what is one book character that you’d love to bring to life in a dream role?

Saffron: How the fuck do you know this?! [laughs]. Oh wow, what an excellent question. Thank you so much. Yeah, I did start a book club in lockdown, obviously over Zoom, as an effort to keep occupied, and to keep connected. I am taking an active role in my life to read at the moment. I’m in Berlin at the moment, I’m filming, and so I am away from my community. I am isolated. There’s a difference between independence, which I’m good at, and isolation, which I’m not very good at. And so it’s really easy to trick myself into feeling connected through being on my phone. Social media is really tricksy like that because whilst you’re laughing, all of a sudden, an hour’s gone by, and I’ve done nothing other than consume. As an effort to stop my brain turning into soup, I have just made an active effort when I’m on set, in between takes or scenes or whatever it is, to have my book with me. 

Funnily enough, I’ve just finished reading—off of Rochelle’s fantastic feminist truth—a book that I would highly recommend. It’s called The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. I currently have the abridged version but I know I will read the full text. It’s just every paragraph was like, boom—truth, boom—truth about just the fact that we don’t deserve to have to pay to exist in our bodies. I think it’s each individual’s own choice. It’s through the incessant socialisation and indoctrination into this myth of beauty that we as women are raised into, and men as well. 

But it can be highly damaging; it is highly damaging, speaking as an individual, all the hang ups that I’ve grown up with. So, in a very short book, because of the abridged version that I have, it just really helped open my eyes, and almost even for a moment, step out of the matrix. It talks about getting older as a woman. It talks about just how beauty has been used as a method to keep us distracted. I just think it’s so amazing. I’d highly recommend that.

A book character that I would love to bring to life? What a bloody question, oh my gosh. Now instantly, every book I’ve ever read has escaped my consciousness. Okay, it has to be something fantasy, because I’m dying to do fantasy in my life. For some reason, this book is really sticking out in my head. It’s a book that I read when I was maybe 12 or 13 called Knife. It’s about this fairy or pixie who is discovered by this guy in a garden, and she’s so fucking feisty. But she’s feisty, she’s strong, she’s literally on the front cover with this weapon that she’s made herself. Stuff like that really excites me. If I ever get to play a fairy pixie or some sort of magical creature in my career, I’d be so happy about that.

Saffron: top by AZZI & OSTA, dress by LES FILLES D’EVA, earrings by ANANYA, bracelet by MAISON LUMIERE.
Saffron: top by AZZI & OSTA, dress by LES FILLES D’EVA, earrings by ANANYA, bracelet by MAISON LUMIERE, shoes stylist own.

Through working on this project together and with all of your roles being so intertwined, what have you come to admire about each other?

Yazmin: I spent a lot more time with Rochelle because it’s just the nature of the story but lived right next door to Saffron, so whenever I got a moment, I’d sit with her. They are both just really brilliant guidelines on how to be a professional actor. Rochelle came with her husband, her baby, and actually, before seeing her, and I’m so big on not making this just about the idea that she’s a mother, and this has been a lot of the rhetoric and questioning because it is a fantastic thing, and her daughter’s a dream, and her husband’s a wonderful man, but it was just this resilience that she had. That sense of no matter what, there isn’t anything that can hinder her. She brought that to set every single day, and it was just such a great thing to watch. Especially as this show is my debut. There are so many nuggets and elements that I want to take from both of them that I know will just serve me so well in the long run.

There was another thing that I am completely seeing from Rochelle, and this is probably a lot to do with the fact that she’s had a lot of experience, but she was brilliant at finding the camera. That was one of my biggest notes on set. I’d get our first director, Charles, and he’d prod me and be like, ‘Yeah, so we’re over there’, she would always know where the camera was and stuff like that, I would sit back in between takes and just admire her. Then on top of that, she is just brilliant at her job.

Saffron was like a maternal spirit to me both on and off set. There wasn’t anything that she needed to say. There wasn’t much she needed to say. It could be a glance. It could be a hand squeeze. Anything I was riddled with that day, whether it was anxiety, anger or maybe I’d started my period and was in a bit of pain, she would just help without saying much. On set, there wasn’t much time to talk. In-between takes, you’re probably dehydrated, so you go get a drink, or you pop to the loo. There isn’t much time to sit down and have a chinwag.

The support that I got from both of them… I’m feeling really blessed actually that this is my introduction into the industry. You hear all these horror stories, and I don’t have any. It’s just a testament to who I’ve been working alongside. I look to both of them a lot, I love them both. 

Saffron: You’re going to make me cry. That’s made me all teary eyed. Thank you, Yaz, that’s so sweet. Okay, I admire these two women so intensely. I completely agree with what Yaz has said. It’s not always the case where you connect so well with the people that you’re working with. Obviously, we spent a lot of time together because we are the Three Little Birds. But just for me anyway, it felt nothing other than being with two sisters that I love very much. Yaz and I met on one of the final rounds of the audition for our respective characters, and our eyes met across the room. It was silent communication: go over and sit with each other, and we were chatting. I was over the moon when I found out that Yaz got the role, and then to be able to see each other again. Even in that small moment that we shared before we were called into the room, I felt like I was talking to someone I’d known for a really long time because Yaz is just real.

She just brings an energy that is so loving and open and warm and sees you. She just sees you. Her heart is open, and so your heart opens, and she meets you there. She’s like that with every single person that she meets, no matter whether you’re the queen of something-something, or whether you’re anything else, she’ll always meet everyone on the exact same playing field. I absolutely love that about her. You would never know that this show was her first screen job. You would never know. I remember the first scene that we had together, and I was just absolutely blown away by her talent, by her professionalism, and by her boldness. She is remarkable.

My dear Roche, I would say we stepped into our roles almost immediately because I remember meeting Roche when we were having the rehearsal week in Coventry and just being enveloped in the biggest hug and being made to feel so happy to be seen. Roche is so good at holding people and holding space for people. I’m floored by the admiration that I have for Roche’s energy because Roche was on set all of the time in nearly all of the scenes, just having had a baby, having to do night feeds, changing nappies, making sure the baby’s okay, then having to come to work and be on set for hours. But you would never know because Roche is laughing, Roche is joking, Roche is focused. She was really inspirational in terms of her professionalism, but also how personable she is. She chats with everybody and makes people feel at ease. 

If you had a question, Roche would answer it. If Roche had a question, she’d come and ask it. It was this real feeling of camaraderie. She brings people together so well. The same as what Yaz was saying, learning so much about being so aware of where the camera is, what shot is this? How close are we? Just being able to go, ‘Oh, that is a good question. Oh, no, I should know that.’ She’s a wealth of knowledge, and it’s a testament to the career that she’s had. Also, she’s so playful. She’s so warm, not just in her work, but in herself. And so, these two women… I was completely spoiled. It’s exactly what my spirit needed [laughs].

Rochelle: I feel really tearful from listening to you two. No, I think it’s amazing. They both gave me gifts. Yaz, you gave me the gift of remembering to see things for the first time. When you work with someone who’s like, ‘Hey, this is my debut,’ I think sometimes on set, you can end up being a lot of the time with people where it’s like, ‘We all know what we’re doing and everything,’ and you relax into it. I think Yazmin gave me the gift of always making sure that I didn’t take any beat for granted, any moment for granted. We’re all discovering it. I think professionally, that was such a gift to work with someone who was like, ‘Hey, yeah, this is new for me.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, cool.’ Watching someone figure out where the camera is made me remember to also be on my shit. I think it’s really good. I think that it’s beautiful. She’s fucking funny. Yazmin is funny, dry, naughty and playful. 

We had such a playful, warm cast. Saff, you’re like a drink of hot chocolate. It’s so lovely. I did feel a responsibility myself to always be on it, and you are such a safe space for me to not be on it. I would come and sit in her dressing room sometimes and be like, ‘Hey, hold me’ And she always came and held me and was just like, ‘Hey, I’ve got you’ and then would push me back out and be like, ‘I get it. I understand why you want it. Be strong.’ We were very lucky to have each other. They’re beautiful women, charming as fuck, and gorgeous inside and out, intelligent, smart, and kind. We got really lucky on this job with each other. 

So thank you, ladies. You’re so lovely to work with. It’s funny, when you first asked the question I panicked because I thought, ‘How am I going to begin to put this into words?’ I know that I’m going to get off this call and be like, ‘And another thing, I just love the thing about the left pinky toe because I love that toe of yours!’ But we were really lucky to have each other. So thank you.

Finally, why should viewers look forward to Three Little Birds?

Rochelle: Why should they look forward? It’s maybe not look forward, but the reason why they should watch it is because it’s going to be really fun for them to hopefully get lost down a rabbit hole afterwards of research. I hope they watch it, they find it really entertaining, and then get on Google and ask, ‘what’s this?’ And then start reading about the Windrush generation, even though this is post-windrush, but the Caribbean Community, and why we came over.

That’s what I hope happens, the chain of events, that first and foremost, they enjoy it as a piece of art. Otherwise, what are we doing? It’s not a documentary, it’s a drama-comedy. I hope they enjoy it as a piece of art and then they get on their phones and start googling and falling down a rabbit hole, or go and speak to their family and start having conversations about days gone by and about what makes us British as a whole, as part of the Commonwealth, as part of different colonies of slavery, all those amazing conversations that can be had in a really loving way. I hope our show encourages that after it entertains you.

Yazmin: I’d sum the show up in three words: family time, community, and patois. I think the last time I could turn on TV and hear something authentic was probably like the TV show, Desmond’s or if i went onto YouTube and would type in some sort of Caribbean comedy. You’re going to hear some really great patois on screen. 

Saffron: I think people can look forward to seeing real people on screen, whether it’s a story that you’re familiar with, whether you’ve grown up hearing them yourself through your nan, uncle, grandfather, mother, father,  brother, sister, whoever it might be… or whether you’re completely fresh to this element of history, I think how we’ve told it, it’s hopefully made it feel like we’re real and it’s happened, and it’s happening. 

I hope that we’ve given people the opportunity to see themselves, to see their family, to see their neighbours, to see people they care about in our characters and in this story, so that it sparks conversation, it sparks questions, and it sparks further education. I hope people are able to laugh with us and cry with us just as much as they would with anyone else.

Three Little Birds‘ first episode is available to watch now on ITVX. Follow Rochelle Neil by clicking here, follow Yazmin Belo by clicking here, and follow Saffron Coomber by clicking here.

Interview & shoot production Cameron Poole

Photography Jemima Marriott

Photography Assistant Lee Furnival

Lighting Eric Anderson using Profoto

Styling Anastasia Busch

Make-up Tomi Ajayi using Pat Mcgrathreal, Dior Beauty and Charlotte Tilbury

Hair Tarik Bennafla at Stella Creative Artists using Cantu

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