Time is money, and money is time. And if you earn a lot of it, not a minute should be wasted. This is basically the mantra of the respected London banking firm Pierpoint & Co, and this is the mantra that the youngest up-and-coming managers in HBO’s new financial drama, Industry, have to learn hard and fast.
The series by Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, which premieres on Sunday, gives an intense insight into the fast-moving world of finance through the lens of a colorful troupe of new employees who find their way around the ruinous stock market floor and the 90-hour week of energy drinks and adderrall. It’s like watching a nervous Battle Royale as they try to maintain their sanity and sobriety in their quest to take the lead in an industry hoarded by wolves.
The young characters – Harper (Myha’la Herrold), Yasmin (Marisa Abela), Robert (Henry Lawtey), Gus (David Jonsson) and Hari (Nabhaan Rizwan) – are incredibly ambitious and driven, if sly and risky. And their – basically – necessary escapades will cost them a lot. But in the heart of the group there is a feeling of love and respect for each other.
“Overall, the show is about relationships. It’s about these young people’s relationships with each other, with their bosses,” said the show’s director, Herrold, recently when Zoom called Washington Newsday. “It’s about how these people connect through incredibly intense situations.
These situations to which Herrold refers – whether it’s multi-million dollar commercial deals, treacherous, experienced colleagues, or office romances – seem to grow darker as the season progresses, but they underscore the industry’s emphasis on community and the human need to rely on peers. After all, wolves run in packs.
Industry premieres on HBO on Sunday at 22.00 ET.
How does it feel to break out with a show like this at a time like this?
I am inexplicably grateful. I feel truly privileged and honored to be a part of this show. I know I’m being pampered now and I know that it’s not always true that you can be part of a project that you are deeply passionate about and have developed such love and respect for your colleagues. I am just grateful that people will finally see it. It’s strange though that this big thing happens and I’m still lying on this couch in this sweat and eating pizza.
How did you get the lead role?
It was a regular audition that I got in an email. I looked at it like this: “This looks sick. I’m recording it on tape.” I sent it through. A few days later, I was asked to shoot a few extra scenes, and very soon after, the writers wanted to meet me via Zoom. I talked to Mickey Down and Konrad Kay [writers of the show], they gave me notes, and I did a few more shots. Then I met with the director, Lena Dunham. She was super nice – it was really easy to get into conversation with her. They flew me to London to meet the other actors and test them. I was there for about 68 hours and then flew back home, and maybe two days later I got the call. And two days after that my birthday came.
What a great birthday present.
I know for sure! I became 23 years old. So I am about the same age as Harper.
What did playing Harper teach you?
I think Harper’s determination to achieve success at any cost empowered me to fight for what I needed for my work. I certainly admire her courage and willingness to go public with so many devastating secrets. Would I approach [my career]the way she did? Probably not. Her tactics are not what I would do, but I have a lot of respect for the fact that she goes out and makes it.
It seems that she has entered a very sneaky world with all these dark secrets. She is the outcast, but she is still as manipulative as her colleagues. I don’t know whether I should be afraid for her or afraid of her.
The really special thing about this show – and this is a testimony of writing – is that it is not about you having any kind of feeling. What makes it really elegant is to draw a very detailed, rounded picture of what is behind the curtain of this world and the people in it. Especially Harper is someone who, on paper, you might think is all those things that she is not.