Ghosting, Overthinking, and the Perfect Spicy Margarita: Jenna Coleman on Her Best and Worst Vibes of 2023
Following the release of Amazon Prime’s twisty drama Wilderness, actress Jenna Coleman sits down with Stylist to give her verdict on everything from overthinking to TikTok’s viral watermelon ice cream…
“I think I ate about 155 in a month,” she says when I ask what she’s been up to lately. It’s no surprise, then, that she’s just stepped off a flight from the perfect place to enjoy peaches – Italy – where she’s spent the last few weeks touring the country, from Puglia to Venice, for the film festival. “It was the biggest break I’ve taken in years; I had so much fun.”
If you’re thinking that Coleman’s summer seems a far cry from yours (my mind immediately went back to my rainy Irish vacation), you’re probably right. Speaking over Zoom from her home in London, dressed in a crisp white T-shirt, it’s clear that the actress has had the kind of year anyone in her line of work would kill for.
May score: In the spring, Coleman had a leading role in the West End romantic comedy Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
And how about an independent film?
This can also be tagged: Klokkenluider , a tongue-in-cheek comedy in which Coleman stars as a journalist embroiled in a witness protection case, was released earlier this month.
“[My character, Flo] swears almost every word ,” says Coleman, which immediately makes me want to watch.
And now, there’s a hugely successful show. Wilderness , Amazon Prime’s new and highly anticipated miniseries based on the book of the same name by BE Jones, is already causing controversy. Coleman leads as Liv, a woman whose glamorous New York life falls apart when she discovers her husband’s (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) affair and subsequently embarks on a road trip through U.S. national parks with him to “reconnect.” In it, Coleman conveys a visceral rage so compelling that just a few moments of his screen time should be enough to draw audiences in.
Just like her character in Wilderness , I get the feeling that Coleman has more than one side. On the one hand, like most celebrities, her life is a constant procession of flashy events. As if to demonstrate this, in the middle of our conversation, a postman arrives at her door with a package that I hear is “from Chanel” (a delivery that I later assume has something to do with the preview of the V&A’s new Gabrielle Chanel exhibition which I see appear in your Instagram stories the next day).
She, however, also has the same tendency to procrastinate and overcommit as the rest of us. “I’m terrible at maintaining new habits ,” she says at one point, when we discuss her very busy mind. “For example, I’m constantly trying to journal, but I can never keep going.”
In fact, the more we talk, the more I find myself thinking that his reassuring normality, in the face of his growing stardom, is – to use the unofficial word of 2023 – a vibe. It’s a phrase that abounds at Stylist HQ: “That’s a vibe,” “This place has a really good vibe,” “Oh no, I’m sorry; That’s bad vibes.”
It’s a word Coleman also seems familiar with. When I ask what kinds of things she thinks are (or aren’t) good vibes, she’s quick to give her verdict on everything from overthinking to TikTok’s viral watermelon ice cream—the perfect way to end a meal, apparently.
Read on for Jenna Coleman’s roundup of her best and worst vibes of the year…
Finishing a good book: a vibe
“That pang of sadness you feel when a romance ends is a good sign. When you miss the characters as if they were your friends, it means you have completely lost yourself in them. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart did it for me. I ended up in a taxi and cried. Most recently, I felt this with Elena Ferrante’s The Days Of Abandonment. I already loved her writing because she describes emotions so viscerally, and this last one completely absorbed me.”
Horror Movies: Not a Vibe
“I am a highly sensitive person. When I watched The Last Of Us I couldn’t stop convincing myself I was in a zombie apocalypse when I tried to sleep afterwards. If I’m going to watch horror, I need to do it at noon.”
Spicy margaritas: a vibe
“Although I’ve leaned toward vodka martinis recently, I stand by the theory that tequila causes fewer hangovers than other alcoholic beverages, so a spicy margarita is my safe haven. I’m quite erratic in the kitchen, so it’s not about delicacy for me, but my secret to making it perfect is to blend it in a blender with lots of ice. So refreshing.”
Dessert: not a vibe
“It’s just not my thing; I always prefer to order a starter. That said, it’s cliché, but a dessert I tried recently is that watermelon ice cream [the recipe recently went viral on TikTok] with lemon, which I highly recommend. People are always surprised at how good it feels when I make it for them.”
Podcasts: a vibe
“I always have a podcast running in the background while I’m cooking, traveling, or preparing. This is my list of must-play songs: Talk Easy, by Sam Fragoso; Team Deakins with Roger Deakin; Soundtracking by Edith Bowman; Adam Buxton Podcast; and Louis Theroux Podcast. They are all excellent.”
Ghosting: not a vibe
“Aside from people playing loud music on public transport and having to stand in line, ghosting is one of my least favorite vibes. It seems cruel. It’s good not to leave people in the dark.”
Making lists: a vibe
“Things I want to do, things I want to watch, recommendations from people, random ideas: it all goes into my Notes app. To be honest, it’s a lot of fun to look back on – a lot of times, you think, ‘What does that mean?’ It’s not a diary, but a beautiful amount of thoughts, let’s say.”
2000s Beauty: It’s Not a Vibe
“I wore everything in the 2000s – matte lipstick, metallic eyeshadow, hair mascara (the one that came in pink, purple and blue). God, I liked hair mascara so much. Now none of this works for me. I don’t know if it’s a hangover from the 2000s or if it has something to do with my coloring, but I’m happy to leave it all in the past.”
Gothic makeup: a vibe
“I loved the dark makeup I wore recently in Venice [where Coleman’s Stylist cover was shot]; There’s something about really bold dark eyes or lips – or both – that I think really works for me. Bianca Jagger and Françoise Hardy are great for reference photos – I love anything with a goth or rock nod.”
Overbooking: not a vibe
I ended up saying yes to so many things that I couldn’t enjoy anything. Now, when I go out with my friends (especially the ones I’ve known since we were in school), I tend to just go over to their house and hang out, rather than over-planning the occasion.
Andrew Scott: a vibe
“I’m really excited to see Vanya [a new version of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya at the Duke of York’s Theatre]. [Andrew Scott] has this unpredictability about him; he is so spontaneous and alive. After seeing him in Hamlet a few years ago, I’m so excited to see him on stage again.”
Overthinking: It’s Not a Vibe
“My therapist often jokes that I’m a frustrated psychoanalyst. In a way, it’s positive: the way I prepare for a role often involves analyzing a character’s psyche. But it’s something I’m trying to control the rest of the time. I overanalyze everything and it can be exhausting, so if that’s how your brain works, it’s good to be aware of it and make an effort to be more present.”
Listening to film soundtracks: a vibe
“I started playing a lot of movie soundtracks recently because I’m trying to include more music in my life. The soundtracks for The Godfather and Cinema Paradiso are my big recommendations; they are so epic.”
My inability to understand dimensions: it’s not a vibe
“My house looks a bit like Alice in Wonderland because I’m constantly buying things online that end up being the wrong size. I recently ordered something to put charcoal in and when it arrived it was the size of the palm of my hand. Likewise, some jars I bought to make chia seed pudding showed up and they were absolutely huge.”
Baubles: a vibe
“I really like interiors: I don’t make mood boards, but I collect things and put them in places. When I travel, I always try to bring something small home with me – from Italy, it was some really cool wardrobe pulls that I found at a flea market.”
My Unread Coffee Table Books: Not a Vibe
“Do people actually sit with their books on the coffee table and read them? I have a few and at the moment they are practically untouched. There’s a Vivian Maier [American street photographer] who I’m desperate to see up close.”
Drinking my coffee in a nice mug: a vibe
“I think the power of a special mug for your morning coffee is very underrated. My favorite is Laura Jackson’s Glassette with fun curly straps. I will actively choose it and say, “Yes, that mug!” I’m not kidding when I say this gives me a lot of joy.”