JULIA GOLDANI TELLES [THE AFFAIR]
At an early age, actress JULIA GOLDANI TELLES started a career in ballet in New York City but due to an injury, she decided to pursue acting and ended up in a show called Bunheads where she can both dance and act. Since then, Julia have combined and used her passions for acting and dance in her craft.
Telles currently plays the complex, and polarizing character of Whitney SOlloway in the Showtime original series THE AFFAIR.
The AFFAIR’s fifth and final season takes the audience deeper into Whitney’s character, showing her growth AND points of view.
In this exclusive interview read on as Julia Goldani Telles tells us about her dance and acting journey, the evolution of her THE AFFAIR character Whitney SOlloway, how she feels about the final season of the show, and her love for comedy.
How did acting start for you and what inspired you to pursue the craft?
I always secretly want to be an actress since I was a little kid but I didn’t think of it as a viable career option. I always pretended that I want to be a doctor or a lawyer or something a little more normal. I took ballet for a long time and got injured when I was 17 and I decided that it would be a good time to take an acting class and I ended up doing a show where I could dance and act- it’s called Bunheads.
After the injury did you still pursue dance?
Yeah. I still pursued dance. It’s one of my creative outlets and since I’ve been doing it since I was little, it comes very naturally.
How does your background in dance influence you in your acting?
Dance taught me a lot of discipline. Having to rehearse numbers for long periods of time and practice that over and over until you get them right really gave me an understanding how you don’t get it on the first try or the second try; it’s like doing a scene or working on a script. It takes a lot of effort, repetition and dedication.
Now let’s talk about your character Whitney, how do you go to her headspace?
Well I think the cool part about playing the character for five years is that I had to grow up with her. I was living a lot of the same things that Whitney was living her whole life so the parallelisms were really helpful for me in understanding her journey. Our showrunner Sarah Treem has been instrumental in working out the scenes because she taught me a lot about her experiences as a woman and I think she takes a lot of her own experience in writing Whitney and that helps a lot.
Tell us about the evolution of Whitney throughout the seasons of the affair?
She’s outspoken and loud
At the beginning Whitney was sort of a more helpful vehicle as a character especially to the writers because her rebellious attitude actually helped propelled the story forward and that it merged a lot of the different perspectives that she is interacting with. She was interacting in Alison’s world (Ruth Wilson’s character), she was interacting in Noah’s world, (Dominic West’s character). And she kind of brought all the worlds together because she was constantly trying to be a truth teller and a gap-bridger among all of these different people.
So I would say in the first few seasons, she was more on the helpful, thoughtful side and then we started to see little bit of her own world, and then in the third season she’s trying to repeat the relationship with her father, she’s trying to find him through her relationships, and now in this fifth year, it’s the first time that we actually see Whitney on her own terms, from her own perspective and she’s become a multi-dimensional, well rounded character. Now we get to see her as a narrator which is really cool.
What would say is the best thing about playing her character?
I think it’s really fun to play a character that is not necessarily a reliable narrator who is very flawed and sometimes selfish and arrogant and that all of those things are humanizing as opposed to antagonizing. The writers did a really nice thing here.
It’s a pretty subjective but also a truthful portrayal of a young woman who is navigating the ups and downs of her early twenties and that was nice.
Anna Paquin joined the cast this season as the grown Joanie Lockhart. How was it to have her on the show?
I love Anna Paquin. I think she is a brilliant actress.
It’s a really cool device to have her in the show and for the show to go 30 years into the future and explore climate change, technologies, and ponder what the evolution of that would be like and trying to uncover truths about her family’s past. I think she’s a great addition.
Have you guys ever interacted at all?
We had a couple of cast dinners and I’ve seen her around set. She gave me a really brilliant advice. I was getting annoyed about having to go into all these girlfriend parts and she was like “Well one day you should have your own production company and you get to be who you wanna be and be the role that you wanna play in the world.”
What was your most memorable moment in the show?
I like the ones with Furkat, Jonathan Cake’s character, he provides the much needed comedic relief. He’s obviously a villain but I think Sara Treem is really good at writing hilarious characters that shows a lot of toxic masculinity in a humorous but also aware way. And I really loved working with Kathleen Chalfant. She’s such a brilliant stage actress and I learned a lot about acting from her.
How do you feel about the final season of the show?
I feel pretty good about it. It’s obviously bittersweet but it’s an instrumental part in me growing up. I created lovely relationships with a lot of people I worked with. And I was really honored to have a character with a strong point of view. I can’t wait to see what everyone involved do next.
What dream role or project do you look forward to take in the future?
I would love to work with Steven Sodebergh. I’ve been seeing a lot of his films lately.
What’s with comedy that you really love the most?
That’s another thing that I would love to do. I’m really obsessed with PEN15.
One of favorite shows right now is Nathan For You from Comedy Central and I just love the cringe kind of subversive dark comedy and I would love to do more of that. I am so fascinated by it and it would be great to get to meet some of those people.
Which actors inspire you?
Michelle Williams have made amazing career choices. Rooney Mara has really good taste in everything. I think I like viewing actresses that I like to have a smart business mind. They keep a low profile and they have a really good taste.
If you’re not acting what usually keeps you busy?
I’ve wanted to finish my degree in Columbia in Sociology. I have two years so I want to do more of that. I also love hanging out with my dog.
If you were a book, what book would you be and why?
A book of matches, so I can light candles all the time. (laughs)
Okay, let me give you an actual book. I am reading this book called Eileen. It’s the first book from the author who wrote My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Otessa Moshfegh. She’s a good writer. She does these complex, dark and unapologetically angry, selfish, young women and it’s beautiful.
Unapologetically badass but also very much in touch with her anger kind of woman is very cool.
Catch Julia as Whitney Salloway in the fifth and final season of The Affair