Indy Lewis: Meet the talented breakout star from BBC’s Industry


The first season of Industry, and Indy Lewis, in turn, may have flown under your radar. Other things on your plate, probably. The big-money, cocaine-fuelled, sex-heavy banking (/bonking) drama (kicking yourself now, aren’t you?) dropped during November 2020. You’d just got your head around the rule of six and how many scotch eggs you had to ingest every half an hour to avoid getting turfed out of the pub. Then tiered restrictions, then lockdown proper. There was a lot going on, even though nothing was going on. 

Plus, the first season of the jointly HBO-and-BBC produced series – written by Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, two Oxford-educated ex-bankers in their early 30s – didn’t exactly get critics gushing. 

The first episode was directed by BAFTA- and Golden Globe-winner Lena Dunham. The season counted Virgil Abloh as a fan. The late Louis Vuitton artistic director and Off-White founder designed an entire Industry-inspired capsule collection after DM-ing the show’s creators (the clothes never got made, much to Down and Kay’s disappointment, due to red tape surrounding licensing agreements). But the season was clunky, clichéd and, by Down’s and Kay’s own subsequent admission, basic. They might not have used that actual word. But it was. It made you cringe. 

Season two got off to a flier. A scandal-dense script and snappier dialogue made good the lazy tropes – and soundbites – of season one. There’s a synthy-80s-inspired soundtrack. The new episodes are nuanced. They’re layered. They’re good.

Indy Lewis was only 18 when she first auditioned for Industry. She’d never really considered a career in acting, truth be told. In fact, Lewis was due to start a degree in International Relations at Durham University. But, as luck would have it, just then a casting director – unrelated to Industry – visited her Sixth Form, Tiffin Girls’ in Kingston-upon-Thames, and the half-Sri Lankan, half-Welsh, Chelsea-born almost-uni-goer made it down to the final two. Thanks, but no thanks, Durham. 

“We want to watch shows that challenge us, that we have to unpack for a bit after watching”

Indy Lewis

Lewis didn’t get the part. But she did get the details of an agent. She took a gap year, applied to drama schools, got a place at Wandsworth’s Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. And then the Industry audition, and then her first proper gig – a Spanish series called La Fortuna with Stanley Tucci – and then a cameo in Industry season one, and then a pretty unexpected, if she’s being honest, full-on narrative arc in season two. 

And now Lewis is getting recognised in restaurants in East London and DM’ed on social media, which is nice but weird, and there are interview requests and fancy photoshoots – a front cover! She’s currently living with her writer-sister in Hackney, which she loves. What next? Who knows. Indy Lewis wants it to be real, though. She likes the earthly, honest stuff. She always wants to be challenged. Indy Lewis. Remember the name. 

Had you really never considered a career in acting before a casting director visited your school? Was it that experience that made you decide not to go to university?

I had always thought about going into acting in a very vague aspirational way, but never gave the idea any real credit until I began to get further into that first casting process. It definitely changed my mindset – especially as I went to quite an academic school where that pathway seemed far less viable. Aside from acting, I had always been a little indecisive and struggled choosing a degree, so when I got into drama school it was a relief to feel happy and confident in what I had chosen for myself. Between that and university there was no question in my mind of which to choose. 

Which drama school did you go to?

I went to ALRA [the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts], initially for a three-year BA, which I had to switch for a one-year foundation because I was working on La Fortuna. This was during the pandemic so we had some very strange Zoom lessons for the first term! 

You almost went to university to study International Relations. Why that course?

Again, indecisiveness had a part to play – International Relations encompassed a range of my interests, so I was drawn to the broadness of the topic. I loved humanities in school and the idea of studying a subject that was so in the present and relevant, while still drawing from history and culture really appealed. 


Why do you think Industry has proven such a hit?

The characters. The financial context of the show is thrilling – but I think watching these deeply flawed characters interact with one another and make these super high-stakes decisions is what makes Industry so compelling. You really get into the headspaces of these people and must navigate why you feel drawn to characters that can seem – on the surface – like horrible people. I think now we are living post pandemic; we aren’t looking as much for escapism, we want to watch shows that challenge us, that we have to unpack for a bit after watching. 

You’ve previously described feeling like you had imposter syndrome when you arrived on the set of Industry…

Industry was my second proper job, so I still felt (and feel!) very new to everything. Being on this massive set with some amazing directors and fully established cast was certainly imposing to begin with, and I was anxious to do justice to the script, and my wonderfully complex, fully-fleshed out character. In a sense, fiction became reality in some ways; like me, Venetia was a new recruit, externally polished and costumed, internally hoping to prove her worth, and justify her place. It was easy to settle in after a few days though, everyone was so open and warm.

With such a young cast, how was the atmosphere on set?

It made it a lot easier to form connections with people, and just feel comfortable having more of a laugh at times. On my last job [La Fortuna], I was the youngest in the cast by about 20 years! So this time on set it was great to feel a bit more camaraderie in the green room. 


Season three, any news?

Yes! Industry will be back for season three! 

What did you do on your gap year, other than apply to drama schools?

Nothing very exotic. I mainly worked – nannying for one family. Otherwise, I applied to lots of little courses, read lots of books, and watched a lot of films. 

What’s the best thing you’ve watched in the past six months (other than Industry)?

I discovered Call My Agent! pretty late and have gone through it alarmingly fast. I find myself exclaiming ‘Putain!’ at minor inconveniences. 

How are you finding the increasing levels of public attention? Have you found yourself getting recognised in the street?

Only once – I was flagged down by a lovely lady after dinner with a friend. People from all over the world are watching Industry, so experiencing how that translates on social media has definitely been a strange thing to get used to. 


How’s your relationship with social media? Is the effect platforms are having on people’s mental health, young people in particular, outweighed by their capacity for good?

I mainly use social media for messaging and communication – it’s how I stay in contact with most of my friends, who are now all over the country at different universities. I can see the ways in which it can become insidious, especially in peoples’ formative years, and especially for young women and girls, and know people who have benefitted from ‘media cleanses’ every now and again. I think I’m still very wary of it, and try not to engage too much in its extremely public nature – but staying connected to people has been so important mentally, especially in the face of isolation and distance, so I’m very grateful to its power of communication. 

What do you spend the most time on, TikTok, Twitter or Instagram? Your accounts are private. Could you explain why that is please.

I use Instagram the most, mainly to message friends. I’ve never really understood Twitter and had to delete TikTok because it had me in a vice-like scrolling chokehold. I recently made my Instagram public as I was doing publicity for the first time for Industry, which has been a bit strange with people getting in touch, but it’s been nice to hear how many people really love and have responded to season two so far. 

How often do you Google yourself? Be honest.

Ha! I might do a cheeky search after an interview has come out, but I’ve tried to steer clear of comment rabbit-holes and Reddit threads. My friends will do a stalk every now and again though and send me rogue articles they find funny. 

I read that you’re a vegetarian. How seriously do you commit?

I’ve been some form of vegetarian since I was about 14 and do abide by it for the most part. I was vegan for a while, and though I’m not any more, I still avoid eggs and milk where I can. I would never buy or cook meat for myself but every now and again, when I’m abroad or in a nice restaurant, I can be persuaded to digress…

What’s your idea of a good date?

Something interactive or artistic to discuss over shared food with some rambling in between. Or a film, with dissection over a drink at one of the local independent cinemas. 

Which book would you suggest everyone should read?

Calvino’s The Complete Cosmicomics is so beautifully written. Outlandish imaginings on the creation of the natural world and universe. My sister is also a brilliant writer – so anything by Ashani Lewis! 

Where’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, but haven’t?

Australia or New Zealand – I would love to explore their wildly different terrains and ecosystems, though I would avoid the spiders if possible. 

You can pick one superpower. What would it be?

Teleportation. Never having to wrangle Google Maps and TFL again. 

What’s your favourite London neighbourhood?

Where I am now – Hackney.

Favourite London restaurant?

My Neighbours the Dumplings always has me relaxing my vegetarianism. Recently, José Pizarro at the RA for amazing Spanish food.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

I did have something lined up for this summer, but it was pushed back to sometime next year, so I’ll have to wait and see. 

What sort of role would you most love to play next?

The scripts that resonate with me the most are always rooted in real, kitchen sink lives; so I’m drawn to roles like that. But I think because I’m still coming to terms with myself as an actor right now, I want characters and themes that will challenge me, I want to see what I can do after being stretched a bit.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

I’m quite happy with where I am right now, at home with a nice cup of coffee.

Industry is available on BBC iPlayer now.

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