Which member of the royal family awarded you the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the way?

Well, when you’re not British, it’s not a member of the royal family that present it to you. And I was going to be away for a long time, and wasn’t going to be in town when whoever it was was going to be able to give it to me, so I asked if they could [ship] it to me. [Laughs]

I don’t blame you, though. If they’re not going to present it to you, that’s just rude!

No, they’re busy people. They can’t do it for every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Well, you’re not just every Tom, Dick and Harry. You’re Gillian Anderson! You’re what we consider an icon, hence this piece.

They can’t do it for every icon. For goodness sakes. [Laughs]

Speaking of, let’s talk about some of your most memorable, iconic roles. When fans meet you, what role do they reference most?

It’s interesting, because most of the time it’s either The Fall, Sex Education, The X-Files, or The Crown. So, probably those four.

When I was going through your Instagram, you often use the hashtag, #yonioftheday, which is Sanskrit for the word, womb. You also co-wrote a book in 2017 called We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, but did working on Sex Education empower you to talk more openly about sexuality and women’s reproductive organs?

When I got the role of Jean Milburn in Sex Education, I was taking pictures on set of all of the penises and vaginas that Jean has in her house. And when I first wanted to start sending them out, the girl that does my Instagram kept saying, “You can’t, you’ll get shut down. You can’t send pictures of…” But then, things got a bit laxer. I don’t know what point it switched over, but we started to do regular #penisoftheday and #yonioftheday. It could have been vagina of the day instead, but…because, for the #penisoftheday, there’s the eggplant, the aubergine, and for the yoni, we usually put this flower. So the word yoni and the flower made sense. It felt like there was something more uplifting than saying #vaginaoftheday. So we landed on yoni. That’s where that came from.

And then, it just started this routine of posting those kinds of things. People started sending me pictures of yoni, or often penises or yonis in nature. There was this fantastic one that was a poodle looking out of a window, but the outline of the poodle looked like a penis, and the ball sacks on the side. And then yonis, and icebergs, and all that kind of stuff. So, it just started this trend and there were some highlights in there.

Gillian Anderson in a scene from season two of Sex Education on Netflix.

©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

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