TikTok star Bel Priestley teases role in Heartstopper season two: ‘Trans girls conquering the world’
Actor and TikTok star Bel Priestley says she can’t wait for Heartstopper fans to see her character Naomi and Yasmin Finney’s Elle “conquering the world” as trans girls in season two of the hit Netflix series.
Priestley, 19, teased more about Naomi – a character specifically created for the TV adaptation of Alice Oseman’s beloved graphic novel series – at National Student Pride in London on Saturday (11 February).
Appearing on a panel discussion about “the joys of the gender journey”, alongside Drag Race UK star Dakota Schiffer and CBBC presenter Dr Ronx Ikharia, Priestley opened up about her role in the second series of the hit show, which was filmed last year is set to arrive on Netflix on 3 August.
“I play a girl called Naomi and I have a very strong friendship with Elle,” Priestley told panel host and author Juno Dawson. “I think [it will] be really nice for everyone to see two trans girls conquering the world.”
The first series of Heartstopper won acclaim from critics and viewers alike for its innocent and tender portrayal of a budding romance between teenage boys Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) and Charlie Spring (Joe Locke). Volume 5 of the original graphic novel series is set to be released in on 9 November, with Volume 6 also on the way.
Priestley, who came out to family and friends as transgender while still at school, says the upcoming series will continue to deliver agenda-setting storylines.
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“Netflix have done a really good job at breaking more boundaries in season two. They’re reaching new audiences and they’re looking at new things,” she said.
“I’ve seen the trailer and I’ve watched [it] and it’s going to be amazing. I’m excited for everyone to see it.”
While Heartstopper marks Priestley’s first big acting role, the teenager is already an established star on social media, boasting more than 1.2million followers on TikTok, 132,000 on Instagram and almost 43,000 on YouTube.
Asked whether she’s prepared for the attention that the role is almost certain bring, Priestley said her cast mates had “prepared [her] a little bit for what’s to come.”
She went on: “I’m just going to take it as it comes and hopefully it’s received well, which I think it will be.”
On the move from social media to TV stardom, Priestley recalled an encounter with a less-than-supportive former teacher after news of her casting was announced last year.
“Acting was always something that was on the sidelines,” she explained. “It was something I always wanted to do but my teacher said: ‘There’s no point pursuing it, drop your dreams’, and now I am [acting].
“The next day, after Heartstopper got announced, I went back to my school fair and I saw her and I was like ‘have you seen the news?'”
Alice Oseman recently revealed that asexuality will be a big talking point in season two of the show, particularly for the character of Isaac (played by Tobie Donovan).
National Student Pride saw thousands of students descend on the University of Westminster’s Marylebone campus last weekend as the event returned for an 18th year.
The weekend’s free day-time festival on Saturday included panel discussions on a variety of subjects, including gender, addiction and LGBTQ+ immigration. The event also showcased the UK’s biggest queer-inclusive careers fair and a special lip-sync extravaganza with Drag Race UK stars Danny Beard and Tayce.
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