interview by JANA LETONJA

Djouliet Amara stars on Apple TV+ comedy series ‘The Big Door Prize’, which is currently airing its second season. Before acting, she was a professional dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and has also modelled with prolific brands such as, Chanel, Nike, Sephora, etc.

Djouliet, you’re starring as Trina in ‘The Big Door Prize’ on Apple TV+. Tell us more about how you got cast on this project and what excites you the most about it.
It’s so fun to think that this has all happened. ‘The Big Door Prize’ is still a beautiful surprise to me and it felt like the universe really shifted in all kinds of mysterious ways to bring the project and all of the incredible people involved into my life. The story, the kindest most talented humans I work with, the element of sci-fi and slice of life comedy, that all excites me every day. I’ve learned so much from playing Trina. She’s got balls. It really feels meant to be. 

I was working on a recurring role for another series and I originally passed on my audition for ‘The Big Door Prize’ because I didn’t have the time to put a tape together. Thank God that anything meant for you can’t pass you by. A week later I heard that ‘The Big Door Prize’ still hadn’t found its Trina. Casting wanted to see me audition. I had the world’s most delicious callback with the team, Gayle Keller and a guest appearance by my cat Navi. I bought my first Macbook for the chemistry read so I didn’t look like I was calling them from a microwave. I’ll never forget Dave West Read telling me “You know having an Apple computer is not a requirement for the job, right?”

dress and shoes ACNE STUDIOS
jewelry Stylist’s own

What can the fans expect from the remaining episodes this season?
The final few episodes of Season 2 are huge. It’s shocking for me to even watch and I was there. Everything happens. It’s big, it’s funny. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh. Expect the unexpected. Trina wrestles with a lot, literally. I had to train with professionals for that, like WWE wrestling in a ring and everything. I learned and did all of my own stunts, but I did have a fantastic stunt double that also came in for those insanely long shoot days. I think that was my favorite part of Season 2. That and probably every time I got to work a day with Josh Segarra.

How did acting become your passion?
I fell in love with acting when I was a little girl. It really was always about the element of play for me. Playing house, pretend, existing as another human being. Escape and creativity, truth and beauty. Acting felt like a big exploration of all of that. I didn’t really have the access as a child or the nepotism to make any of that happen. My parents and I came to Canada as immigrants when I was a little kid. I would watch shows like ‘Lizzie McGuire’ and dream that I could be a part of something like that. Hilarious that my dreams have come true all these years later. Instead of acting as a child, I went to dance school. I think dancing on stage and dancing in my room is where I really learned to act, because that’s where I really learned how to feel. I wear my heart on my sleeve and it works in this creative passion. Acting is my really big love.

How does acting fulfil you creatively the most?
It’s fun to pretend to be everyone you’ve ever wanted to be and be paid for it. I’ve stuffed everybody I’ve ever loved into the characters I play. It’s weird, but you can really heal from traumas by acting too, at least a little bit. 

Before acting, you were a professional dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in NYC. What do you love the most about dancing and how does it allow you to escape the real world when you dance?
Dancing was my big escape for sure. I learned a lot while I was at The Ailey School and apprenticing with Ailey II. I grew up in a big way there. I think that dance to me feels like a universal language. You can escape the confines of this modern life when you move. You can say so much. It feels better than screaming, better than laughing. Dance is life affirming and that’s what I love most about it. It always reminds me that I’m here in my body.

skirt KHAITE
nylons SIMON’S

You have also done some modelling. What was your favourite part of modelling and experiencing fashion as a model?
My favourite part of modelling was meeting so many great friends and working with them on creative projects. I was scouted for a Shea Moisture project while I was working at Glossier in 2017, and the woman that scouted me for the job became one of my most dear friends, Jordana Koffsky. I was actually able to help movement direct supermodel Twiggy, Rita Ora and Wisdom this past summer on a commercial in London. 

Experiencing fashion as a model was interesting. There were good jobs and very bad jobs. I think I learned a lot about my personal style through being aware of what was out there in the world because of the modelling industry. 

How important is fashion in your everyday life?
I use fashion to express myself. It feels like a huge part of my life. I am easily inspired by fashion in the world around me, and easily influenced by fashion even in my acting career. I can sometimes find it really hard to go into scenes if I feel like the character isn’t wearing what they would wear. Fashion feels so deeply connected to the self, the mood. I’ve recently connected the most with Acne. I feel like their clothing really resonates with me lately. 

What are the things you enjoy most when you’re not on set?
Walking around Manhattan listening to music, eating empanadas and enjoying Shirley Temples with extra cherries. I also am obsessed with therapy right now, and reality TV.

necklace JIL SANDER

What would you describe as your biggest goals for the future of your career?
I’m really excited to keep creating and aligning with projects that allow me to play. I’m really loving the world of comedy, but have a deep love in my heart for sci-fi dramas like my favourite show ‘The OA’, psychological thrillers and horror movies. I’d love to be a scream queen. The first two projects I ever worked on were 2 back-to-back horror films shot in Winnipeg. I think the future of my career will be really fun and I hope there are wonderful, kind-hearted people in those rooms with me. 

What can you share with us about your exciting, upcoming projects?
My next project is a rom-com written by Jonah Feingold, filming in New York. It’s called ‘31 Candles’ and I’m really excited for everyone to see it soon. It’s a great one for all the hopeful romantics. 

photography BRIAN VAN WYK
first assistant CAMERON SPARLING
second assistant CONNOR DAVIES
editor-in-chief TIMOTEJ LETONJA
interview JANA LETONJA