Senior Staff Writer sits down with British actress Julia Farino about her new career in the US, her upcoming role in a new version of Lady Windermere’s Fan and her aspirations for the future…
Scott J. Davis: How did you get started as an actress-singer? Was it always your dream?
Julia Farino: Well, I didn’t dream of being a pop star or film star when I was a kid. It was only when I was 15 and wanted something to do over the summer holidays that I joined a local, youth, drama group and I fell in love with performing. I pleaded with my parents to let me leave school at 16 and apply for drama school and I was amazed as, contrary to what I expected, they agreed and backed me all the way. I enrolled in a 3 year musical theatre course at the London Studio Centre – winning the Coleman Award in my final year for outstanding achievement in drama, singing and dance. I then became a Bachelor of Science after a 3 year degree course at the University of Surrey in Sociology and Drama so at that point, I felt I was fully prepared to face a life in the world of entertainment! I haven’t looked back since.
SJD: What made you take the leap in 2011 to up sticks and move to LA?
JF: Since I discovered my passion for the arts, I’ve had a one track mind. My career drives me and I love to push the boundaries and set myself new challenges. I’d had a huge amount of success as an actress and singer in the UK and just felt it was the right time to find out what Hollywood had to offer. Not knowing how I would be received, I knew I had to take a leap of faith in order to grow as a performer. I needed to head to the capital of the entertainment world, fully immerse myself and see if I could make my mark.
SJD: What did your family think about your plans to move to the US?
JF: My family is my rock. My Mum, Dad and sisters have supported me in every aspect of my crazy career. Moving to LA was no different though my Mum does keep asking when I’m going to come home and get a proper job!
SJD: How does life in Los Angeles differ from that of living in the UK?
JF: As successful as I was in the UK, Los Angeles is the centre of the TV & film industry so the opportunities over here are vast and I feel that anyone who really wants to make it, will eventually come to Los Angeles at some point in their career. I feel I have the opportunity of meeting and working with the best in the industry. As for my lifestyle, it seems insensitive to complain that it is sunny ALL the time but I can’t deny that I miss the rain!
SJD: You’re the spokeswomen for the new Whiskas Kitten Kollege videos. How was that experience?
JF: That was a fabulous job and I hope that the viewers have as much fun watching the videos as I had making them. We hope that viewers will be entertained whilst they learn all they need to know about raising kittens. The series of videos featured content developed by the hugely popular comedy website, College Humor. College Humor has had over 3.5 billion views since it launched so we are hoping that our videos will boost that figure a bit too!
SJD: Lady Windermere’s Fan has been told on film many times before. How does this version differ from previous incarnations?
JF: Well, the previous films heavily adapted the play. With our screenplay, we tried to stay true to Oscar Wilde’s original structure and story so that the audience can really enjoy this great man’s writing style and wit. I play Mrs Erlynne and as soon as I read the script, I fell in love with the character. She has a tremendous journey throughout the piece so I hope I’ve done Mr Wilde proud. I’m thrilled that the American audiences have loved the film and that it has been so successful in its film festival run so far. The film is set for release early next year on Video On Demand and all digital platforms, so I am hoping the film will be equally successful in its digital release too!
SJD: Do you watch many films now you’re in the US? Any films you have enjoyed lately?
JF: I’ve always loved going to the pictures but the best thing about being in Los Angeles is that when it comes round to the Oscars, I can see all the Best Picture nominated films in one go which I was never able to do in the UK. I even won the Oscar sweepstake this year choosing correctly 22 out of the 24 winners! I am a huge fan of documentary film making and believe a great documentary or film based on real life events, can have a tremendous impact. I recently saw Beasts of No Nation starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah; a hard hitting piece about the experience of a child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country. A film like this can reach millions of people that it would otherwise take years of campaigning to inform.
SJD: Which Hollywood stars and directors would you love to work with?
JF: As a jazz singer, I am often asked who my favourite singers are but I don’t have favourite singers, I have favourite songs. I am the same with acting. I have favourite material. You can’t make a good film when the script is bad. I am all about telling a story with engaging characters; making people laugh, cry and think, so I am a big fan of the writer. I am currently working on the film, Icarus, with the insanely talented, up and coming writer/director, Tom Teller. He knows how to tell a story and engage his audience. He is definitely a name to look out for next April when Icarus, will be released on the international film circuit.
SJD: Do you have any advice for any young, British actors and actresses who want to break into Hollywood?
JF: Well, I’d say, do your homework before you come. Talk to people that have made the move and find out about their experiences and what they had to do in order to get here. There is a lot of paperwork involved so it’s not as easy as just getting on a plane! The industry works very differently over here so there is a lot to learn. Come prepared to work hard, to adapt and learn new ways to develop your talents and then, as Shakespeare once said, “The world (or in this case Hollywood) is your oyster”.
Our thanks to Julia for taking the time to chat to us, and Liz Rodriguez and her team at EMR Media for setting up the interview.
Scott Davis is Senior Staff Writer at Flickering Myth and co-host of The Flickering Myth Podcast