Who Is Shadow And Bone's Alina Starkov?

Netflix is set to launch its latest fantasy series, "Shadow and Bone." Based on Leigh Bardugo's bestselling novels, the eight-episode season follows Alina Starkov, who is an orphan in a war-torn world who discovers she is actually a magical soldier known as a Grisha. She then has to figure out who her true allies are as she learns to control her powers. 

As the main character in the series, finding the perfect actor to portray Alina was, of course, essential. Producers sent out a worldwide casting call and narrowed it down to the top five, sending their audition tapes to Bardugo to review. She revealed in an interview with Express that it didn't take long before she had found her favorite: British actor Jessie Mei Li. "I called up the producer and said 'it better be Jessie because I'm not watching any of the rest,'" recalled Bardugo.

Fortunately, producers agreed, and Li got the part. The 25 year-old — who only had a few credits to her name at the time — is already astounded by her newfound fame. "It's interesting to be in the middle of that," Li told The Guardian. "Just going from being me, a bit shy, to suddenly all these people just like, 'Oh my God, Jessie, you're this, you're that.' I just think, 'You don't know me. I could be horrible for all you know.' But it is really weird. I have to keep remembering that it's not me they're interested in, is it?"

Shadow and Bone's Alina Starkov is played by Jessie Mei Li

Jessie Mei Li, aka Alina Starkov, has a multicultural background, as the daughter of a white mother and Chinese father. She studied at the Identity School of Acting and was a member of the National Youth Theatre (via TV Over Mind). In addition to her starring role in "Shadow and Bone," Li has also recently won parts in Ivo van Hove's stage adaptation of "All About Eve" opposite Lily James and Gillian Anderson, as well as in director Edgar Wright's next film, "Last Night in Soho," according to her talent agency, Independent. "Last Night in Soho" is described as a psychological horror film starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith. The film's trailer has already freaked out fans, including Li.

"It's so interesting in tone," she told The Guardian. "Reading the script was one thing, but then seeing the trailer that was cut together when I last saw Edgar, I was like, 'Whoa, this looks actually quite scary.' It didn't necessarily seem so when we were reading the script. It seemed really cool and really exciting, like a thriller. But I'm pretty interested to see how it turns out."