TV

Domino Day star Siena Kelly: 'The society we live in turns powerful women into monsters'

There’s a dark thrill to be found Gangs of London writer Lauren Sequeira's new drama

Siena Kelly in Domino Day

Siena Kelly in Domino Day. Image: BBC/Todd Antony

Have you ever despaired at the dating apps on your phone, shuddered at the grim rendezvous they bring? For anyone who’s been victim of the casual nastiness or outright abuse that’s common on Tinder and Bumble, there’s a dark thrill to be found in the BBC’s new supernatural drama. Created by Gangs of London writer Lauren Sequeira and starring Siena Kelly (who you’ll recognise from the excellent Channel 4 drama Adult Material), Domino Day follows the titular witch as she swipes – not to find a soulmate, but to hunt. 

The result is a gleefully gory feminist revenge fantasy. Right at the start, we see Domino go home with a sleazy date. He isn’t listening when she says no, comfortable that he can get what he wants. He has seriously underestimated the powerful force he’s up against. 

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For Kelly – who says she’s “surrounded by witches” in real life – Domino Day was a dream role. “I just really empathised with Domino,” she tells The Big Issue. “I loved all the friction of having this unbelievably powerful and genuinely dangerous, violent witch also being so lonely, so insecure, so conflicted and filled with guilt and shame.” 

The Big Issue: Did you see elements of yourself in Domino? 

Siena Kelly: I’m very, very lucky that my life isn’t like Domino’s. I’ve definitely not gone through even half as much shit. So, I’m a lot more bubbly and out-going than she is. I have a support group, which means the decisions I make in my life are very, very different to Domino’s. I’m not as independent. And I’m probably not as resilient. It was fun to be so powerful. I’m a small person – I’m 5ft2 and my limbs can be quite spindly. So I did gym it a lot on this job. I was up at like, four in the morning and lifting weights, because I wanted to feel like I could handle myself in a fight.  

Is there an element of wish fulfilment in punishing those awful men? 

Well, it’s just a beautiful fantasy, right? To be so powerful everyone’s afraid of you. But then we also show a nightmare sequence. In it, these men are so terrified of her. Her fear is that she’s a monster. She has to go on a journey of learning that she’s not a monster for being so powerful. That is what would happen to an extremely powerful woman in the society that we live in. They are turned into monsters by men, by media. 

Domino must endure awful dates to stay alive. Did that hit a nerve?   

That’s mainly Lauren, who’s the creator. I’ve actually really enjoyed dating apps. I have a two-drink rule. Give people two drinks. And then if I’m not feeling it, I don’t mind saying I’ll leave. 

I think you’re more powerful than you’re letting on… 

Ha! Yeah. The power of saying no and the power of not worrying about making somebody else uncomfortable – that is super-powerful for women because we are made to feel like we need to make everybody around us comfortable, right?  

Domino Day has a female writer, female directors and a predominantly female cast. Does that change the experience of being on set? 

I have been so lucky, I have worked with so many female writers and directors. I graduated literally the year of the #MeToo movement. I have reaped the benefits of everything all those women were fighting for. I have never, ever had to do any intimate scenes without an intimacy coordinator. I’m eternally grateful to everybody who came before me, who stood up and had to say scary things and endure scary things, so that it can be different for me. I’ve spoken to female actors who are like 20 years older than me and the things that they tell me about the industry – it’s really unbelievable, shocking.   

Lauren Sequeira has described herself as a believer in modern witchcraft. How witchy are you? 

Most of my friends are women and a lot of them identify as witches. My partner’s mum has been a witch for decades. I’ve got friends who are professional tarot card readers, friends who go by the lunar calendar. I have friends who are trying to unlock the power of their periods. I am very spiritual, and I am on this quest to live more in sync with the planet. So I’m getting my yoga teacher training certificate in May. I’ve been a vegan for eight years. I love herbalism. I meditate on a daily basis. Witching is an earth religion, just connecting to the planet. It is quite anti-capitalist. I am absolutely a believer in that.  

When you were growing up, were there fictional witches you were drawn to? 

It wasn’t witches for me, it was fairies. I’m quite a light person. I’m drawn to lightness in people, and in my art, and in how I approach life. I think my friends who were drawn to witchiness, they’re much more drawn to the darkness.  

That said… if you had the power, is there anyone you’d hex?  

I’ve never even thought about that. I’d give quite a few world leaders and politicians a potion to give them deeper empathy and less ego. Maybe a potion for that, rather than a punishment? 

Yeah, you definitely are drawn to the light. 

I don’t want that karma coming back to me! 

Domino Day is available in full on BBC iPlayer from 6am on 31 January, with episodes airing weekly on BBC Three from 9pm that night 

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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