Rising Star Emma Mackey On Her Latest Role As A Goddess

From Barbie to goddess, the actress and Burberry ambassador talks to marie claire about running with lions, being fearless and the endearing curiosity instilled in her growing up.

If there is a woman on the rise right now, it is Emma Mackey. Unafraid to push the boundaries and work outside her comfort zone, the 27-year-old actress has been winning hearts with roles that exude confidence while still retaining something touchingly unique, optimistic and human

The past few years have been big for Mackey. From her role as Physicist Barbie in this year’s box office phenomenon Barbie, and reprising her role as the razor-sharp bad girl Maeve Wiley in the third series of the hugely popular drama comedy Sex Education, all eyes are on Mackey right now. So it seems fitting that she would be approached by Burberry to front the House’s new fragrance Burberry Goddess.

“I’m so pleased to be part of the Burberry family and to take on this new role,” says Mackey. “Burberry is a brand that I have always loved, so I feel very lucky to be trusted with this kind of project.

In the campaign, Mackey is every bit the personification of a powerful goddess, running (virtually) with a pride of lionesses. And the symbolism resonates with Mackey.  

“I like the idea that the lionesses represent female unity and strength,” Photography: Vas Kalegias

“I like the idea that the lionesses represent female unity and strength,” says Mackey. “They are confident and move together as a pack, a team. Much like them, we stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us and those who bolster us throughout our own lives. To me, this image is a real source of empowerment.”

Shooting the campaign, was challenging.  “This was so different to anything I’d done before, and I was excited to take on the challenge. I underwent some physical preparation with my coach and absorbed as much of the storyboards and overall creative concepts as I could to tell the story properly.”

The short timeframe of a campaign film was an additional challenge. “Shooting a film or TV series can take anything from four weeks up to eight months out of the year, sometimes more,” Mackey explains. “In this case, it was much shorter and an “all systems go” kind of process, which pushes you to get into character quicker and just roll with it. It forces you to focus, let go of your doubts and rely on adrenaline to get you through. Being on set is my favourite place to be in the world, no matter what I’m filming. That will always be the feeling I hold onto.”

With a French headmaster father and British mother, Mackey who moved from her home in Le Mans in northwestern France to the UK to study literature and English language at University of Leeds, lends a charming blend of cool French Girl vibes and quick-witted British humour to her roles. But, she says, the instillment of kindness is the thing that she prizes most from her parents.

“My values growing up were always to be kind to everyone you meet and protect your loved ones,” says Mackey. “These kinds of values are ingrained in me and continue to shape the person I am today.”

Photography: Vas Kalegias

Blended with her classic good looks and fierce intelligence, Mackey has a presence on screen that is winning hearts.

From Sex Education, which burst onto our small screens in 2019 proved so much more than a romp about (or for) for horny teens, while Mackey’s role as Adrienne, the fictionalized love interest of engineer Gustave Eiffel in Eiffel, centers around daring to realise seemingly impossible dreams.

In the 2021 film, Mackey’s character says, “We must be freer. More audacious.” And it could be a theme that runs through Mackey’s own world. Certainly Mackey is not one to shy away from pushing the boundaries.

“Whenever you get the chance to take up a new opportunity, meet new people and try new experiences, you should,” she says “The more you’re willing to try, the more you will learn and grow. I’ve actively tried to push myself more in recent years and having seemingly endless possibilities in front of you can be an uplifting, empowering feeling.”

The new Burberry fragrance, created by master perfumer Amandine Clerc Marie, also pushes the needle in terms of what we have experienced before. A sensual, almost milky woody vanilla, Clerc Marie’s desire was “to pass on a strong olfactory message,” and explore a new olfactive experience using vanilla. To do this, the perfumer wrapped three types of vanilla (one extraction method having never been performed on the gourmand note before) then wrapped them with a surprising lavender.

Burberry Goddess EDP, 50ml, $190 at Myer

“This clever pairing is something that Mackey says she gravitates towards. “I like the duality between the lavender and the vanilla notes,” she says. “The woody tonalities throughout the fragrance… are particularly comforting to me.”

Duality is an attribute that seems ingrained in Mackey and she says that her curiosity feeds her performances. So when asked what advice she would give her younger self to live her best life, her touch points are varied.

“My general advice would be to cultivate curiosity as much as possible,” says the actress. “Try new activities, interact with different kinds of people, read as much as you can, watch different genres of movies, learn to speak new languages. If you can see each undertaking as an opportunity to learn and fill your brain with knowledge, that is a great start. This will help you hone your taste and adapt to all the different situations life throws at you.”

emma mackey marie claire
Emma Mackey on the January digital cover of marie claire Australia. Photography: Vas Kalegias

Having recently won a BAFTA Rising Star Award and a British Independent Film Award for Best Lead Performance for Emily last year, Mackey certainly seems to be able to take every opportunity and run with it – with a pride of lionesses or without.

“[The Burberry campaign] makes me feel hopeful and confident, powerful even; like I’ve achieved something unexpected,” she says.

From goddess to Mattel toy, unexpected is what we can expect now from this newcomer whose star is very much on the rise. Now, we wait for what’s next.

Burberry Goddess EDP, 50ml, $190 is available at Myer now.

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