Interview: Victoria actress Lily Travers talks about her life and loves
Victoria actress Lily Travers discusses women’s rights, the secret to wearing a corset, her products du jour and favourite places in London with Sarah Joan Ross
Culture Whisper: Your character in Victoria, Duchess Sophie of Monmouth was inspired by Caroline Norton, who petitioned for women’s rights. Did you feel an affinity with her?
Lily Travers: Going through a journey with Sophie for five months certainly brought me closer to her world & the struggles she endured. Victorian society had such specific expectations for women and their role. It was shocking to discover just how few legal rights a woman had once she entered into a marriage - she didn’t even have claim over her own children! I believe that every living thing deserves to be treated with respect and compassion. So taking Caroline’s battle a step further, I believe in rights for human, animal and plant alike.
CW: Love or loathe the corset?
LT: Love to look at ... to wear, perhaps not quite so much! Though I was a bit sneaky and Ros the wonderful costume designer on Victoria had a beautifully tailored corset made for me without all the very hard wire, so it was softer, more malleable and surprisingly comfy!
CW: How was the atmosphere on the set and working with Jenna Coleman in Victoria?
LT: I always feel so inspired by the comradery on a set. Everyone is focused and diligent in their specific field of expertise and it’s astounding how beautifully it all comes together! It’s one of the best examples of teamwork. I felt so lucky to be able to walk on set every day with people who were not only exceptionally talented but outrageously glorious, kind human beings too!
CW: Did you celebrate the wrap of the show?
LT: When a job wraps, it’s always bittersweet. They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. It was wonderful to spend 5 months with a fantastic team, immersed in this incredible world and powerful stories. The ending for Sophie & Joseph is very much left on a cliffhanger, so I felt a little forlorn leaving them behind. I remember driving away from set on the last day with Dave and we said ... “I hope they’re ok back there! We wish you well!” A funny little wish to a fictional past!
Photographer: Ruan Van Dee Sande
Make-up: Nathalie Eleni
Hair: Emanuel at Paul Edmonds
CW: Who maintains the blonde mane?
LT: Paul Edmonds is forever the dream team, I love them!
CW: Most frequented spas or salons?
LT: I like to keep my nails clean & natural with Japanese manicures. Boniface, Verney-Carron & Frances Collier are incredible for physio and getting things feeling spritely after long set days!
CW: Favourite form of exercise?
LT: I like exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise - walks, swimming, dancing, tree-climbing!
When I’m working, I always have a big breakfast when I get on set to keep me going & early to bed (unless it’s night shoots!)
LT: Drink plenty of water, get out into nature as much as possible and (as in the Baz Luhrmann video!) - wear sunscreen!
LT: My grandmother (Virginia McKenna started the Born Free Foundation) so on my travels to Africa I pack things like citronella, sturdy shoes, binoculars, trousers with elasticated bottoms (to stop the bugs climbing up) & a journal to note all the animals, birds and insects we spot!
CW: What do you never leave London without?
LT: I religiously use The Gel by Gagnon Essentials £35, Omorovicza Lip Balm £33, Philip B Conditioning Water, £39 (smells heavenly!). Then I’ll usually pack copal incense sticks, a notebook & pen (for doodling and spontaneous script ideas) and at least one good fiction & one good non-fiction book to keep me learning!
CW: And what do you buy when you land?
LT: I love monoi oil, Le Petit Marseillais Orange Blossom Shower Gel & Coqui Coqui when in Mexico.
CW: Apart from singing in the shower to Les Miserables, how else do you get yourself ready for a summer party?
LT: Fleetwood Mac, Dreamcatcher, The Verve & Chic and as many scented candles as possible!
CW: You look gorgeous in this summer dress, any advice for summer party dressing?
LT: You’re never fully dressed without a smile…