Despite being just 24, Lily Newmark has already hit several peaks that most other actors spend their entire careers trying to reach.
While her part in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” was substantially reduced, she plays a key role in the upcoming indie comedy “Juliet, Naked” from acclaimed novelist Nick Hornby, she appeared in an adaptation of “Les Miserables” and had a recurring role in NBC’s “Emerald City.”
In fact, by the end of 2018 Newmark will have amassed a hugely impressive 23 film and TV credits in just 6 years.
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But, despite being just 24, Lily Newmark is already willing to admit that she probably won’t ever achieve the same creative fulfillment as working on “Pin Cushion,” the critically acclaimed feature film debut from writer and director Deborah Haywood.
In “Pin Cushion” Newmark plays Iona, a quiet and shy teenager who has an extremely close relationship with her mother Lyn, played by Joanna Scanlan (“The Thick Of It”).
Newmark recently admitted to me that it was the closeness between the mother and daughter that originally attracted her to project. But the connection between Lily and Iona also went much deeper.
Like Iona, Lily was routinely bullied in school, and starring in “Pin Cushion” proved to be both a therapeutic experience for the young actress.
“I actually had to convince Deborah that I had literally lived through some of these scenes. Because at first she thought I was just saying that to try and get the part. But I really didn’t. But I really experienced bullying. Both me and Deborah. And I could relate to it on such a deep level.”
Rather than being frightened or intimated by delving back into these experiences, Newmark embraced the opportunity to merge the character of Iona with her own experiences.
Newmark called it “cathartic rather than traumatic,” and she even went as far as to raid her own wardrobe to help create the character.
“Just touching those clothes allowed me to go back to that point in my life. So I went back through them, and helped to build the character around them. Iona always has so many layers on because she wants to protect herself, and that really helped me to find her.
As Haywood had written the script around 10 years ago Newmark and her fellow cast-mates helped her to evolve it for a modern audience, with more updated references and insults.
But Haywood’s writing, and her direction, was still clearly on point. So much so that Newmark insisted that for some of the most traumatic and biting scenes, “I really didn’t feel like I was acting.”
As a result, Newmark is hopeful that “Pin Cushion” can really open the eyes of those that do see it.
“I hope the film can teach people to be more empathetic. Across all ages. Because it shows how bullying exists at all ages, in different fashions, and the impact it can have.”
Thanks to her raw and compelling performance as Iona, anyone with even an ounce of human empathy should feel affected walking out of “Pin Cushion,” while they will also leave knowing that Newmark is destined to be a star, too.