Smothered’s Danielle Vitalis on empowering sex scenes and the importance of representation

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Smothered’s Danielle Vitalis on empowering sex scenes and the importance of representation


One of the duo’s first scenes is in a karaoke bar, where they meet for the first time – spoiler: things get steamy in a booth. “We had an amazing intimacy coordinator,” Danielle recalls, likening intimate scenes to dance choreography. “Initially, it felt like this big, heavy thing I’m gonna have to do,” she recalled. “We had some rehearsals and some chats about it. And [the team] were like, ‘okay, what are you comfortable with? What do you want? When we got there to do it, it felt quite empowering actually.”

For her, it wasn’t just the sex scenes that needed to feel intimate: “it was the scenes where he was oiling my hair, moments where you’re laid bare with that person”. Smothered does a really good job of conveying those intimate moments that appear in most relationships, but perhaps don’t get proper representation on screen.

“The notion of intimacy is not just about sex,” Danielle insists as something she personally believes, but it also feels like one of the show’s mantras. Smothered also underlines the importance of throwing away the rulebook when it comes to romance (and romcoms) and doing what feels natural and right in a relationship.

“I think Smothered highlights the way that you can set your own rules about things,” Danielle says, adding that we should question why society tries to dictate this part of our lives. “It just allows you to remember that if something is feels okay to you, that’s okay – you can do that.”

When it comes to her own romantic life, Danielle is quick to tell GLAMOUR that dating apps aren’t for her. When asked why not, she has a rather philosophical answer. “I grew up in St. Lucia, a very small Caribbean island, and then I moved to Hackney when I was nine… I just found it hard to assimilate – not just with technology, but I grew up with my great grandparents. They were old. And I just feel old sometimes. I feel like an old soul navigating metropolitan London.”

She speaks of the overwhelm she’s experienced from appearing on gossip sites after promoting her work, with personal online comments stooping to whether her voice is “too nasal”. Danielle is concerned that these sites, and the Internet,  “perpetuate the nature of opinion”. “I don’t know if we’re supposed to be listening to so many opinions,” she says. “Visibility wise, I think it’s a bit much. I see why people limit like their children or young people when it comes to the intake they have.”

When it comes to opinions of her life and work being broadcast online, Danielle thinks there’s a clear difference between professional and personal critique. “I do sometimes feel quite overwhelmed… I don’t think people’s opinions of me is my business. She adds that often criticisms cross over from her “art” into herself personally, which is where the problems lie.

Robbie J Gray



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