Yellowjackets Star Sophie Nélisse Is on the Rise

Filming for Season 3 started up again in Vancouver earlier this spring and also brought the release of Irena’s Vow, her latest role.

Sophie Nélisse never intended to pursue a career in acting. The Québécois actor practised high-level gymnastics from a young age, even competing internationally. She only signed up for the same Montreal talent agency as her older brother to book some commercials to help fund her gymnastics training. And then she got gigs appearing in ads for brands like IKEA and Jean Coutu—and many more. “After a year, not even, of being at the agency, I booked my first role in Monsieur Lazhar,” she recalls of her role as Alice, the star pupil in a class taught by an Algerian refugee in Montreal who steps in as a teacher after tragedy transpires. At just 11 years old, the one-time Olympic hopeful won a Canadian Screen Award and a Jutra Award for her work in the critically acclaimed film, and Nélisse “ended up going to the Oscars, and that kind of started my career.”


Dior look.




Louis Vuitton look.

Soon after, Nélisse was cast as the star of The Book Thief (the film based on the novel of the same name by Markus Zusak), a role for which she also received a number of awards. “So many girls auditioned for that part,” she says. “It felt like that was my breakout, and then I just kept working.” Nélisse credits gymnastics with informing her approach to acting.


“It’s definitely helped me in my sense of competitiveness, being able to take criticism from your coaches and to learn from your mistakes,” the now 24-year-old says.


Focusing on a scene on a busy set is easy when you’ve had to “be focused on this 10-centimetre-wide beam, doing back flips on it while girls are running in the gym and screaming and your coaches are giving you notes and stuff,” she adds. Similarly, she’s used to repeating routines over and over until they are perfect. “It’s kind of the same with a scene.”





Ferragamo look.


Chanel look.


These days, Nélisse is best known for her role as Shauna in the Showtime drama Yellowjackets. Set in 1996 and 2021 concurrently, it follows the lives of an American high school soccer team after their plane crashes in the Ontario wilderness. The series has received 10 Emmy Award nominations over its first two seasons. Filming for Season 3 started up again in Vancouver earlier this spring. “It feels like it’s been forever,” Nélisse says, of the interruption due to the writer’s strike, adding that she’s pumped to bunk with her best friend, Courtney Eaton, who plays Lottie on the show. “Ever since we got a start date, we’ve been calling each other, and we’re so excited to be back working and living together.”

The finale of Season 2 ended on a cliffhanger, which left the characters in each timeline out in the cold both literally and figuratively, and Nélisse is in the dark herself about what the new season will bring. “I gather from the stakes that they’re left at in the second season that it’s only downhill, and that it’s going to get even more chaotic and feral and dark and grungy. We’ll really see the darkest sides of these women,” she says. “But I have no idea what Shauna’s arc is going to look like, and I’m anxiously waiting to find out.”


Issey Miyake look; Maguire shoes.



Simone Rocha dress and Maison Margiela gloves, both available at Ssense.




Prada look.



For Nélisse, this spring also brought the release of Irena’s Vow, the film adaptation of a Broadway play about the courageous actions of Polish nurse Irene Gut Opdyke, who risks her life to shelter a dozen Jewish people from the Nazis during the Second World War. It is Nélisse’s first time portraying a historical figure, and she worked with a dialect coach to get her character’s Polish accent just right. “It was definitely a challenge and intimidating to give an accurate representation,” Nélisse says of Opdyke and her “beautiful story of hope and selflessness.”

Irena’s Vow was also an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone, says Nélisse, who lists Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, and Jake Gyllenhaal as some of the actors who inspire her. “I have always aimed to have work that’s as diverse as possible,” she says, adding that she wants to try her hand at comedy or a superhero movie that could make use of her background in gymnastics. Working with Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is also on her wish list—his 2013 thriller Prisoners, which features Gyllenhaal, is one of her favourite films.

Of course, for this star on the rise, the possibilities are endless—and Nélisse is more than happy to take risks and lean into the unknown.


Loewe jacket and jeans, Dries Van Noten shirt, all available at Holt Renfrew; Hermès shoes and tie; socks stylist’s own.

Makeup Geneviève Lenneville for Folio Artists. Hair Steven Turpin. Lighting Technician Renaud Lafrenière. Assistant Stylist Femi Avolonto. Retoucher Mélanie Lapointe. Production Assistant Anne Lee. Post-production Marius Burlan. Videographer Gerardo Alcaine.