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Why we’re obsessed with Emerald Fennell and can’t wait for her take on ‘Cinderella’

24 March 2021 by Suzy Evans
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Emerald Fennell

I arrived in the United Kingdom — London to be exact — a little over a week ago, and I am already planning my quest to find my queen. Not Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, no. Or even the rocking stars of SIX, although I will be seeing that show for the fifth time as soon as curtains rise again.

I’m talking about queens like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Michaela Coel. Billie Piper. After all, this is the land of Aisling Bea. Sharon Horgan. Sally Phillips. Writers like Lucy Prebble, Caitlin Moran. Powerhouses like Cynthia Erivo, Rosalie Craig, Kerry Ellis. Don’t even get me started on Dames Dench, Thompson, and Smith. All of these lists go on and on. There are so many dynamite women of arts on this island, and I hope to befriend them all. 

But my latest obsession and newest queen is none other than recently crowned three-time Oscar nominee Emerald Fennell. And just like the lead character in her stunning film Promising Young Woman (see aforementioned Oscar noms) will stop at nothing for revenge, I, too, plan on being quite persistent in my pursuit of friendship. I am, of course, in a new city and looking for new friends.

Carey Mulligan in ‘Promising Young Woman’

For the uninitiated, allow me to spout off some CV highlights: Fennell rose to mainstream fame as the showrunner of season two of Killing Eve, a phenomenal and all-encompassing follow-up to the groundbreaking season one (helmed by Waller-Bridge, also propelling her to fame, though Fleabag season two truly solidified her as a household name). She also plays the notorious Camilla Parker-Bowles in the most recent season of The Crown, which I have slowly devoured as my part of my British initiation. We love a multi-hyphenate. 

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I heard about Lady Fennell quite late, when I received a press release for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s upcoming stage reimagining of Cinderella. No shade to Lord Lloyd Webber and Rodgers and Hammerstien before him and even Walt Disney, but it was nice to see a young woman penning the book for a princess story. Tired of seeing these damsels through the male lens, I was eager to see what my then-undiscovered queen Fennel would bring to the story. 

And after being floored and shaken by Fennell’s feature film debut Promising Young Woman, which she wrote and directed, I have to imagine that this reinvention of the classic tale will finally lend our iconic heroine some level of ownership and agency she hasn’t received in previous versions. Sure, Cinderella has always been a badass, but her whole story hinges on a man saving her from servanthood and a life of squalor. What if she had the wherewithal to save herself? I have to imagine and hope, this is the perspective Fennel will bring. Once we become best friends, I will make sure to get all the details, and I absolutely cannot wait to see the show.

So as I wander around London, hopping from park to park in this lockdown, I’m still on my search for Fennell. When I listened to Carey Mulligan, the star of Promising Young Woman, on Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert podcast, Mulligan spoke about how proud she was of Fennell for making her first film and shared her accomplishments with Shepherd, to which he questioned  whether she had a life outside of her work, implying that she was so talented and multi-faceted that something had to give. Mulligan assured him that Fennell has a life full of friendship and fulfillment.

Well, I can’t wait to join that life. Emerald, call me.