Amy Winehouse is getting her own biopic in a new film from director Sam Taylor-Johnson, which focuses on the singer's years living in London in the early noughties and her journey to stardom.


Of course, since Back to Black was announced, the question on everyone's lips has been who on earth could be cast as the iconic songwriter and vocalist, whose blues-inspired songs made such a huge mark on the music industry.

The answer: Marisa Abela, whose performance as Amy has been widely praised in first reviews of the film, with describing her portrayal of the singer as "at turns funny, headstrong, vulnerable and tragic".

In an unexpected move, Taylor-Johnson uses Abela's vocals throughout the movie, rather than Amy's, and in a recent interview with, Abela spoke about the challenges of nailing such a unique vocal style.

"I mean, it's an incredibly distinctive sound, so just nailing that sound was the difficult thing," she said.

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"Because I think that, you know, one of the incredible things about Amy was that she never performed the same song the same way twice.

"So in those moments that are, you know, specific interviews or specific performances, it kind of has to be right, because that's the only time it ever sounded like that. So that was important to me."

She continued: "But again, it's just another challenge. It's just another, like, way to work."

Wondering what else Abela has appeared in and what she's said about her role in Back to Black? Read on for everything you need to know about the star.

Who is Marisa Abela?

Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse and Eddie Marsan as Mitch Winehouse in Back to Black, talking next to a bar with a taxi behind them
Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse and Eddie Marsan as Mitch Winehouse in Back to Black. Studiocanal

Abela is an actress who is known for her work on both the big and small screen. She was born in Brighton on 7th December 1996.

She has previously opened up about how she initially wanted to head to law school, but eventually applied to RADA, securing a place when she was 19 years old.

She rose to fame playing investment banker Yasmin in BBC drama Industry.

The actor confirmed her role in Back to Black back in January with an Instagram post in which she wore a gold necklace with the words "Amy Jade" – the singer’s first two names.

She captioned the image with a reference from Amy’s 2008 Grammy acceptance speech, writing: "And for London. This is for London. 'Cause Camden Town ain't burnin' down."

How old is Marisa Abela?

Abela is 27 years old.

What else has Marisa Abela starred in?

Marisa Abela stars in Industry season 2 wearing a brown suit and black shirt
Marisa Abela stars in Industry season 2. HBO

Abela starred in 2020 thriller series Cobra and interactive feature film Five Dates before getting her big break in Industry.

Speaking about the role, she said back in 2021: "I was in my final year of drama school at the time when I got the script. It was maybe three episodes, and I was just overwhelmed with excitement at the idea of playing a character like this."

She added: "Her tagline was 'vulnerability disguised by Prada', and I was like… 'God, this is going to be so fun.'"

She also had a very minor role in Greta Gerwig's Barbie.

Does Marisa Abela sing in Back to Black?

Yes, director Sam Taylor-Johnson recently revealed that Marisa has provided all vocals for the film.

Speaking to Empire, she said: "When we first talked about it, my first question to (Marisa) was, 'Can you sing?' And she said, 'I can't.'"

She continued: "I was thinking, maybe we’ll use Amy’s voice throughout, and we’ll do it that way.

"She then went off after that audition – irrespective of whether she knew she’d got the part – and started training her voice."

What else has Marisa Abela said about Back to Black?

Talking about taking on the role of a lifetime, Abela told Harper’s Bazaar: "What we were interested in doing was bringing audiences back to who she was when she first captured everyone’s imaginations."

She continued: "It was about that moment where she really set the world on fire with her album Frank. We wanted to get back to that place – who was she, at the centre of her own narrative? I wanted to capture the essence of her soul."

She added: "When we look back on her narrative, we are somehow using other people to inform us about her story. Our film is really trying to take it back to how Amy felt, what Amy was thinking – and there is no judgement there."

Is Marisa Abela on Instagram?

Yes, she can be found at the handle @marisaabela_.

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Back to Back landed in cinemas in UK and Ireland on Friday 12th April 2024.


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