Trans TikTok star Bel Priestley explains how she ‘manifested’ her role in Heartstopper season 2

Bel Priestley as Naomi (centre), Ash Self as Felix (left) and Yasmin Finney as Elle in Heartstopper season 2 on Netflix

Heartstopper season two star Bel Priestley has revealed how she went from not having a clue what to do with her life to starring in the hit Netflix series.

Alice Oseman’s seminal queer teen drama was already considered radical for having one main trans character: Elle Argent, played by Yasmin Finney.

But in season two, Oseman has taken another step forward for LGBTQ+ representation, introducing a second trans character, Naomi, played by TikTok star Priestley.

As season two dropped on Netflix yesterday (3 August), Priestley explained in an interview with the Evening Standard how the major change in her life came about.

“Three years ago, I was a cleaner who had no friends or clue what I was going to do,” she said. After using TikTok as a way to document her transition, she gained hundreds of thousands of followers, and got a manager.

“At my old management, when I first signed, they asked what my big goal was and Heartstopper had just come out. I must have subconsciously manifested it, but I thought it would be in five years’ time,” she went on.

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She revealed that she was concerned about moving from the world of social media into acting because she thought she wouldn’t be taken “very seriously”.

However, not long after discussing Heartstopper with her management team, the show’s casting team got in touch.

One self-tape, and she’d landed the role.

“She is what I wish I was in school: confident, outspoken,” Naomi said. “I was such an awkward kid. I had a hard time, so I kept to myself.”

After news of her role broke, the star went back to school the next day and was approached by those who had been mean to her because they suddenly wanted to take her picture.

She eloquently told them to get lost.

In Heartstopper season two, fans watch as Elle meets Naomi while at an opening day at an art college. The pair immediately strike up a friendship, as Naomi explains her desire to leave her school and move somewhere she can be with other LGBTQ+ people. 

It was a conversation that Priestley had already had with Finney, who is her friend in real life, long before they filmed Heartstopper.

“These are conversations we’ve been having, just the two of us, for years,” Priestley said. “To film that scene together, knowing it’s the first time in the UK where two trans girls have come together [on TV], was so emotional. It was such a full-circle moment.”

Heartstopper season two is now streaming on Netflix.

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