Bringing In the New Era
At the end of 2011, Elizabeth Henstridge flew across the pond from Sheffield, England, hoping to find stardom in Hollywood – just two weeks before pilot season began. It wasn’t long before she was cast as Jemma Simmons in the first live-action creation of Marvel’s fictional espionage, special law-enforcement, and counterterrorism agency. Her family and friends back home had a feeling that she’d be in America for a while. “You don’t realize what the biggest day of your life is when you’re living it,” says the now 31-year-old series regular on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Marvel Universe is practically exploding: Near the end of April 2019, Avengers: Endgame reached the biggest opening weekend of all time and is currently the fastest film to ever cross the $1 billion mark worldwide. For Henstridge, this is an extremely exciting time to be part of the Marvel Universe. Now that a new era is beginning, she is looking forward to seeing how these iconic storylines and characters will reinvent themselves. Specifically, she looks forward to fan reactions of upcoming scenes between her and her on-screen husband Iain De Caestecker, who plays Leo Fitz. It’s always a high point in the season for her when things are going well between the series’ favorite couple.
Henstridge also adds that bringing Simmons to life is a dream come true – being able to work with a character for 10 months out of the year is all she ever wanted to do. In the midst of working on its seventh season, she has learned a lot from the past seven years on the popular ABC show, especially from the character she plays as she is constantly aiming to emulate Simmons’ confidence, lack of apologizing, and quick thinking in any situation.
In 2016, Henstridge decided to use her platform as Jemma Simmons to advocate for Smile Train, an international charity with a sustainable approach to providing free operations for children with cleft lips and palates. She created an exclusive T-shirt with her character’s image that reads “Smile for Science,” with proceeds benefiting the organization’s cause. In just two weeks, 700 items were sold, providing treatment for 38 children. She was also able to experience the work of Smile Train first-hand in Mexico while visiting the highly-trained surgeons and the families that they were helping. “They have people that care after the surgery as well and give advice,” she shares. “They don’t just go in and do a surgery and are never seen again.” While her limited run of merchandise has sold out, those wishing to support the mission of Smile Train can donate directly on their website. Henstridge remains involved and hopes to visit another one of their hospitals in the upcoming year.
When looking to the future, Henstridge plans on continuing to work as hard as she can at bringing strong and complex characters to life, not just in front of the screen, but behind it, as well. She has recently become interested in directing and being able to present aspects of a story in new ways.
In her personal life, Henstridge trusts that what is meant to be will be. While the newly-engaged actress plans her wedding, she simply wishes for the continued health and happiness of her friends and family. “I think that’s all you can ever hope for,” she says.
Writer: Tara McDonough
Photographer & Videographer: Natalie Walsh
Stylist: Andrew Philip Nguyen
Hair & Makeup: Kerrie Urban
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel (@sheratonsangabriel - www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/lgbfp-sheraton-los-angeles-san-gabriel/) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)