Jessie Cave Opens Up About Her Life, Her Career, and Turning Pain into Art
CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses multiple topics that some readers may find uncomfortable or distressing.
Jessie Cave, who portrayed Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter films, has worn many hats since the franchise ended. She still works as an actor but also hosts her own podcast and has written a best-selling novel. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, though. In fact, her debut novel, Sunset, was written as a way to deal with the death of her brother, Ben, who died in an accident.
Cave sat down with the Guardian to discuss her life after Potter and all the hurdles she’s had to overcome to get to where she is today – and she’s got plenty of stories to tell.
Cave is very open about her life and her feelings and kicked off the interview by admitting that, despite all her success, she has the same doubts and fears that all of us do.
I constantly feel like a failure. I constantly worry about how I’m going to make money. I also have to prove that I’m working hard, because I hate the thought of someone thinking that I’m not grafting for what I’ve got.
She’s had her fair share of terrible auditions and admits that it got to her personally, making her feel like she didn’t fit in anywhere. That is what pushed her to start writing, and after her brother’s death, she couldn’t find any books that truly reflected the experience she was going through, so she decided to write it herself, and Sunset was born.
It was really important to me to write truthfully about what it’s like to be in shock after a traumatic, sudden thing. [I wanted] to have something out there that would help people who’ve lost a sibling.
Cave is very honest about her life and says that there is some comfort in not having any secrets.
There is a liberation in everyone knowing everything. [My novel] was the first try at doing something veiled. It’s definitely fiction, but it is rooted in truth, and I loved that.
Speaking of not having any secrets, Cave has been open about being raped as a teenager. She first revealed it at the end of her show Sunrise and says that this revelation led to many other victims reaching out to her, thanking her for speaking up and helping them talk about it too. She added that she had accepted what happened to her but that she doesn’t allow it to overshadow her life, though she made it clear that it is not possible for everyone to deal with it the way she has.
It absolutely hasn’t defined me, and I’ve chosen for it not to define me. Other people don’t have that choice. It’s so massive that it absolutely is going to define them.
Working as an actor, Cave has also had her fair share of body-shaming and feelings of not fitting the mold of a typical actress. She says that even though no one’s ever outright told her to lose weight, it has been implied. She recalled working with a costume director (she didn’t specify on which job) who grabbed her stomach and that she laughed it off, but the experience stayed with her and made her terrified of costume fittings. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. Cave says that she has experienced an improvement in how actors are treated over the past five years and that people are a lot more sensitive and kind than they used to be.
Cave is not immune to the anxiety that tends to come with working in the ever-changing entertainment industry, but she’s taken some steps to feel more in control and created a day job for herself selling her illustrations. She’s also currently working on her next book and still wants to create something for film or television. Seeing the response to her novel has made her reconsider the things that drive her, and she says that her ultimate goal is no longer to just be respected as an artist.
I think it is down to creating work that people enjoy. Just making them laugh or making them think, and that’s the most important thing to me.