We have all found ways to occupy our time in 2020. For actress Alison Araya, that included reintroducing herself to her green thumb. When not talking to her plants and establishing a balcony garden, she can be seen starring as Aunt Victoria in the new Netflix series Julie and the Phantoms, a role she is quite literally kicking up her heels over.
“Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with a great shoe and the costume designers and I had loads of fun creating Victoria’s look, which includes some killer shoes,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.
We recently sat down with Araya to discuss finding comfort in the new, embracing cultural nuances, and why she takes time to BREATHE.
TrunkSpace: Your new project, Julie and the Phantoms is a musical. Music has always been a great escape for people, and an escape is what people need this year more than ever. Does it feel like this series could be hitting at the right time for people? Will the combination of storytelling and music be just what the doctor ordered for those looking to “check out” mentally for a few hours and be entertained again?
Araya: Julie and the Phantoms is a show with so much spirit and heart. It promises to be entertaining and the music is out of this world catchy and cool! At this uncertain time in our collective history, we have all turned to the arts for comfort. Many have discovered new shows, movies, books and music to help cope with the multitude of feelings we are all experiencing. Some stories help us escape and others help us connect. I believe JATP is a show that will connect audiences, through the family, music, the personal journeys of the characters. And it couldn’t come at a better time!
TrunkSpace: In the series you play Aunt Victoria. What was it about this character that offered you something new that you had yet to experience on camera before? What part of your journey with Victoria felt like the biggest “first”?
Araya: Aunt Victoria was a first in many ways. As a woman, Aunt Victoria is a little larger than life, a little flamboyant and extra! I tend to play professionals so it was so much fun to step into Victoria’s shoes. Literally! Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with a great shoe and the costume designers and I had loads of fun creating Victoria’s look, which includes some killer shoes! But most importantly, being a part of an onscreen LatinX family and having the opportunity to fully step into embracing the cultural nuances of representing a LatinX family, is something I am deeply proud of.
TrunkSpace: Julie and the Phantoms hit Netflix on September 10. As an actress, how does having a series premiere on a streaming platform all at once change the roll out experience? Does it make exploring audience feedback online more rewarding them they can binge through an entire season in one sitting and then give their opinion on it?
Araya: Media platforms have evolved and shifted so much in recent years, audiences have had to adapt. The beauty of online streaming is the convenience and the ability to watch at will. As an actress, one of the most exciting aspects of being involved in a Netflix show is that my friends and family all over the world can watch! JATP streamed to over 190 countries on September 10th, which is amazing! Fans will be able to decide whether to watch one at a time or all at once or many times over! I’m so proud of this show and excited to hear how audiences respond!
TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on Julie and the Phantoms that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life?
Araya: JATP was an incredible experience for many reasons. Working with the legendary Kenny Ortega was awesome and a dream come true! Something I will always remember about my experience filming JATP was the first time I heard one of the songs recorded by Madison and Charlie. I had mentioned that I hadn’t heard any of the songs yet and Charlie let me listen to one of the songs, as I sat there waiting for the next set up, I was weeping. The music was so incredibly beautiful, I was literally moved to tears. I’ll always remember that moment.
TrunkSpace: We’re in a bit of a weird time for the entertainment industry right now. While many films have been pushed back and production delays are setting up a pretty quiet fall TV season, some big projects are going right into homes, like Mulan and Bill & Ted Face the Music. How do you think COVID-19 will impact your industry as a whole moving forward?
Araya: No doubt the world at large has been impacted by the challenges of 2020. The entertainment industry has certainly felt the blow, however, the ‘biz’ is made up of highly resilient and adaptable people. In BC alone the local industry has been impacted by tax cuts, US dollar, writers strike and a host of other challenges over the years but we have always come back and have come back stronger! I am of this mind that this moment in our collective history is an opportunity for us as storytellers to do better and represent a greater cross-section of humanity through our stories.
TrunkSpace: As an actress – a profession where you generally are required to work directly with other people in a scene – how have you kept the tools in your toolbox sharp during this extended period of isolation?
Araya: Quarantine definitely forced us to get creative! I went back to my old acting books and rewatched some of my favorite films. I watched a lot of actors roundtables to stay connected to my craft. Also, thanks to Zoom I was able to participate in play readings which fill the creative tank! But the greatest gift was the time to go within and the space to grow.
TrunkSpace: Outside of acting, how have you kept yourself busy during quarantine? We know you are a plant lover – has gardening been an outlet that you’ve turned to during this time?
Araya: My plant babies definitely got me through quarantine. I’m always on the go, so being home and talking (yes, I talk to my plants!) they did so well! I also grew a garden on my balcony. It was the first time I attempted it and I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I grew my garden from seeds and to watch the garden grow was so rewarding. Once my kale and chard came in, my morning routine consisted of harvesting my greens, making my smoothie and sitting out on the balcony watching the world and admiring my green thumb! It definitely helped keep the quarantine blues away.
TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest surprise to come out of a career as an actress that you could have never anticipated? What have you achieved/received by venturing down this path that otherwise you would have missed out on?
Araya: Being able to do what I love is such a gift. A career as an actor is not a linear path and I have been at this for a loooong time. Each year is different, some more rewarding than others, but along the way, I have met some of the most beautiful and inspiring people. Acting has also allowed me to investigate myself on a deeper level; I believe the better you know yourself the more you can give as an artist. That journey is a lifelong one and I’m grateful to continue it.
TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an actress/artist and how do you overcome those insecurities when they make an appearance?
Araya: I like to hold myself to a high standard at work and in life. But we are human and fallible and we make mistakes. Any time I have come into an insecure moment on set, whether it’s flubbing a line or getting caught up in your head, I know, from years of doing this, the inner critic has no place in that moment. I’ve worked with actors as a coach and have seen actors shut down and I’ll talk them through it. I’ve learned to be that same voice for myself. Instead of allowing myself to spiral, I’ll acknowledge whatever is challenging me in the moment, remind myself that I got this and BREATHE.
TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Araya: Tough question! I am so curious by nature and love to be two steps ahead of the game but if given the chance to travel forward and get a glimpse of my future, I’d pass. I know for me, had someone said “this is where you’d be 10 years from now” I couldn’t have imagined it. But I know that every experience big or small has shaped my present. So, I’ll keep on enjoying the moments and stay open to all the possibilities the future has!
Julie and the Phantoms is available now on Netflix.