Jessie Mei Li: Actress and Model
Jessie Mei Li is a vegan who identifies with both she/they pronouns. She plays Alina Starkov on Netflix’s Shadow and Bone (2021). Additionally, she worked on Havoc recently and currently boasts an estimated net worth of about $1 Million.
Jessie Mei Li was worried her casting in Shadow and Bone would be seen as filling a diversity quota, but she respects the show’s decision to challenge stereotypes about Asian characters through Alina.
Jessie Mei Li’s Biography
Jessie Mei Li is an English actress best known for her role as Alina Starkov on Netflix’s Shadow and Bone series. In 2019, Li also made an appearance in All About Eve as well as Edgar Wright’s 2021 movie Last Night in Soho. Additionally, Li identifies as gender nonconforming (they/she pronouns), is vegan, and has openly discussed their ADHD diagnosis on social media platforms such as Instagram.
Li speaks about her journey from teaching assistant to Broadway actress in this episode of In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast. She details how building rapport with co-stars made production days more manageable while her positive approach at auditions helped her find the roles she wanted.
Li’s role as Alina Starkov may be different than anything she has done previously, yet she says she has found the transition relatively seamless. She credits season one’s Shadow and Bone experience for helping her develop as both an artist and professional – as well as its second season offering new challenges and experiences to her.
Li is also an advocate for mental health and body positivity, having spoken openly about her struggles with anxiety and depression and helping young people manage these challenges. She has written a book chronicling both these experiences as well as her journey as an actor.
Li was born in Brighton, East Sussex to an English mother and Chinese-born father who immigrated to the UK when she was a child. While she experienced racism as she grew up, her family helped keep her grounded and focused on her career – she is currently starring as Alina Starkov on Eric Heisserer’s second season of Shadow and Bone (book-to-TV adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels).
Jessie Mei Li’s Acting Career
Jessie Mei Li is an English actress with Chinese and English roots. Born August 27, 1995, she is 27 years old today. Since 1995 she has appeared in multiple roles, such as Claudia Casswell in All About Eve for 2019 stage production, Alina Starkov in Shadow and Bone series by Netflix, Last Night in Soho by Edgar Wright, and Locked Up Abroad by Edgar Wright among many more. Jessie identifies as Virgo which means she prefers practical relationships over passionate ones while possessing modesty and discretion – two traits she possesses.
Born and raised in Redhill, Surrey. She attended St Bede’s School before studying at Reigate College before enrolling at university to study languages – however, eventually dropped out and turned her focus toward working with special needs children where she discovered acting skills that she has since trained with at the National Youth Theatre and Identity School of Acting; playing Claudia Casswell in All About Eve 2019 stage production.
Her father hails from China while her mother hails from England; thus giving her dual nationality. She prefers using she/her and they/them pronouns and is Christian. Additionally, Tom is her older sibling.
Jessie is an exceptional actor with an array of talents. She can easily transition between comedic and dramatic roles with ease, is an accomplished dancer, and has worked alongside high-profile stars like Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, and Rachel Weisz in her career.
Jessie made headlines as Alina Starkov in the 2021 series Shadow and Bone, an adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse fantasy book series. Additionally, she appeared alongside Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Thomasin McKenzie for Last Night in Soho and will lead Pork Scratchings when released later this year. For all these roles she was widely acclaimed and her success is expected to increase with further prominent roles ahead.
Jessie Mei Li’s Personal Life
Jessie Mei Li is a vegan who regularly shares meal ideas with fans. She has also spoken out against racism; having grown up in Redhill, Surrey – an area with predominantly white residents in England where her parents were both nurses. With an older brother at Reigate College for A levels, and studying at Identity School of Acting London.
Jessie Mei Li made waves in 2018 with her breakthrough role as Alina Starkov on Netflix’s fantasy series Shadow and Bone, which is based on Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels and draws viewers into a world of intrigue, magic, and terror. As this was Li’s debut leading role, she did her role with grace and humility – she proved she can hold her own against some of Hollywood’s premier actors!
Li’s performance in Shadow and Bone was breathtaking, garnering her praise from fans and critics alike. Her breakout role propelled her to the forefront of the acting industry; since then she has also appeared in Edgar Wright’s psychological horror flick Last Night in Soho, and Ivo van Hove’s stage play All About Eve as Claudia Casswell.
She advocates for neurodiversity, encouraging others to embrace their differences. Additionally, she has a similar mark on her forehead to that of Alina Starkov in the show and finds it offensive when people make a big deal about her scar. She hopes they stop making an issue out of it!
Li is an emerging actress whose career is just getting underway. With immense potential and fans cheering her on to continue climbing up the entertainment industry ladder. Aside from acting and modeling work, she’s also been recognized by high fashion brands – should her rise continue unchecked, she will surely become a force to be reckoned with over time.
Jessie Mei Li’s Family
Jessie Mei Li is a British actor of Chinese heritage with English parents. Currently, she stars in Netflix’s new adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse series Shadow and Bone as its star; critics have given her rave reviews for her performance and she is quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s hottest young actors.
She made her professional stage debut at the Noel Coward Theatre, performing as Claudia Casswell in All About Eve. Since then she has appeared in short films and TV shows, including Last Night in Soho (2021).
Jessie Mei Li was raised in Brighton, England as the daughter of an English mother and Chinese father, with one brother working for the National Health Service as a doctor. Li’s mixed-race identity has helped her overcome many of the challenges in her career as well as share knowledge on diversity issues among colleagues in entertainment.
Li has earned praise for her performance as Alina Starkov in the 2021 Netflix show Shadow and Bone, an adaptation based on Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse trilogy that connects to characters in the Six of Crows duology. At first, Jessie Mei Li was reluctant to accept the role because she thought taking it on would be seen as an act of “diversity,” but once filming started she quickly found herself growing excited by it and learning more about its backstory.
Li has also been an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQ community beyond her acting work on the show. She is proud to be part of Hollywood’s LGBTQ movement and hopes her acting work can bring about change.
After hearing she had won the role of Alina in the Netflix series Shadow and Bone, British 25-year-old actress Amber Riley could barely contain her excitement – she says “I swore for about five minutes when she received the phone call”.