interview by JANA LETONJA

Award-winning actress and producer Julieth Restrepo just starred in Netflix’ limited series ‘Griselda’ alongside Sofia Vergara. On the film front, Julieth will return to SXSW for a second year in a row with her romantic comedy ‘Switch Up’, which will premiere on 10th March.

Julieth, we’ve just been able to watch you in the highly succesful Netflix series ‘Griselda’. How exciting was it working on this series, based on true events and alongside Sofia Vergara?
It was really exciting and meaningful. Being part of a show that’s having such an impact worldwide has been really incredible. We all put a lot of work and heart in it so it’s beautiful seeing people receiving it so well. I’ve always admired Sofia, her persistence, her authenticity and the choices she’s made in her career, so working with her was definitely a dream come true. 

In the series, you portray Marta Ochoa, a drug-addicted millionaire, striving to work together with Griselda. What was the most challenging thing about portraying Marta and how did you prepare for this role?
I had a wonderful time playing Marta and navigating her complexity. My biggest challenge with Marta was being very specific about the dramatic arc that we were building for her because I only had a few scenes to explore her world and make her believable for the audience. She made a huge impact in Griselda’s life and people needed to understand where that was coming from. 

This is my second time working with Andi Baiz, our director, and I love the freedom he always gives you. That played a huge part in creating Marta.

At this year’s SXSW, you are returning for a second year in a row with the romantic comedy ‘Switch Up’. Tell us more about this film and its story.
SXSW is such a cool film festival and it is really a celebration of cinema, so it is a great honor to go back. I still can’t believe it. Romantic comedies are my favorite genre and ‘Switch Up’ represents what I love about these type of movies. It has all the elements of the love story, but also talks about second chances, grieving, the importance of family and community, and makes you question the role you are playing in society. How much are you really contributing to make this world a better place?

You are currently also in production on Shondaland’s limited series ‘The Residence’, playing a housekeeper at the White House and one of the suspects of the murder mystery. How is it working on a story with a political aspect, especially set in the White House?
Being part of the cast of ‘The Residence’ has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I can’t say much about the project for now because we’re still in production, but what I can tell you is that the story is fascinating and the audience is going to have a wonderful time watching it. The scripts are wonderful and really smart. I really can’t wait for people all over the world to see what we are doing. 


In your homeland Colombia, you’ve garnered multiple awards for your work in both TV and film. How would you describe your transition from Spanish-speaking roles to English projects? 
I don’t like being in my comfort zone, so I was up for the challenge when I moved to Los Angeles and I’m so glad I did it. The transition has come with its ups and downs, but it’s been really exciting and refreshing in so many ways. 

I decided to move to the States a few years ago because I knew working in English was going to give me the chance to open new doors in the industry. I wanted to compete for the roles that I always dreamed of. I barely spoke English when I moved to LA in 2015, but I committed to diving into the culture and the language. I hired a dialect coach, got in improv classes and I’ve been doing everything I can to keep getting better at my craft while building a career outside of Colombia. I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’m getting now. I want to think that they are the result of being consistent, persistent and never giving up.

You started acting at the age of 13 and earned your first award at 19. What was it that made you passionate about acting in the first place?
The possibility of being someone else and creating a whole world for that person. I was very shy when I was little, but acting was my safe place. Being on stage was the place for me to play, create, explore, dream, think outside of the box and have fun. I love storytelling, I’ve always loved watching films and TV, but I didn’t know what you needed to do to work in the industry. I had my first audition for my first movie when I was 17, I got the part and a few months later I was on set working on it. I remember how everything felt surreal because even though it was new to me, it felt like home. It still does and I still feel like that little girl who only wants to feel free, explore new worlds, dig deep in our humanity and have fun. 

How challenging do you find the transition from one character to another?
That transition is one of my favorite parts of this job. I do my research for each character I play and try to find the humanity, the flaws, the strengths and what makes them unique. It’s a process that I really enjoy. 

Also, after being immersed in someone else’s life for a while, it’s fascinating to shake that up and get the chance to think like a different woman, being at a different place, under different circumstances, surrounded by different people. 

Besides being an actress, you also run your own production company, Blue Rabbit Films. What inspired you to launch your own production company and how do you decide on projects you work on?
As an actor, you get tired of waiting for a call, an opportunity, a chance to do what you love the most and it could be very frustrating when you face rejections and don’t know what to do about it. With Blue Rabbit Films, the production company I co-founded with my husband, we found a way to stop waiting for that opportunity and started creating it. 

I love writing and I’m always thinking about stories and how to make them possible. Throughout all these years, we’ve met incredible people in the industry that were looking for opportunities as well, so we decided to start working with them on the ideas we had, learned about the process and what it takes to make projects a reality.

We’re all about diversity behind and in front of the camera. Representation is key for us so we’re focused on giving voice to stories that make a difference in the world, resonate with our values and inspire people to pursue their dreams. 

dress LEDIEL

Tell us more about the upcoming projects Blue Rabbit Films is working on.
We’re developing a TV series based on a play that I also co-produced in Colombia a few years ago and we’re excited to take it to streaming platforms.

‘Broken in Pieces’ is a feature film based on true events, that I co-wrote and I’m co-producing with Felipe Martínez Amador and we’re planning to shoot it next year in LA. 

We are also in pre-production on ‘Of Rodrigo Branquias’, a short film that we’ll shoot in Colombia this year at the beautiful San Andrés island thanks to a grant we received in 2023 from the FDC (Fondo de Desarrollo Cinematográfico).

‘Kisses to Kevin’, directed by Juan Sebastian Valencia, is a LGBTQ short film we launched on YouTube with great success. It has 2.5 million views and we’re working on making it a series. 

What can you share with us about your exciting upcoming acting projects?
‘Dear Gentleman’, a film I starred in, directed by Patricia Castañeda, is about to start its route at festivals all over the world and it talks about the women’s rights in Colombia in 1954. It’s a period piece that means a lot to me as Colombian and as woman. 

I’m really looking forward to seeing ‘The Residence’ and now that ‘Switch Up’ is having its world premiere at SXSW, I hope people can watch it on a streaming platform very soon. 

I will also play one of the leads in the untitled dramedy series we’re developing and I can’t wait to play Fernanda, the lead in the feature film ‘Broken in Pieces’. Since it’s based on true events, I’ve been working on that role for some time and I know for sure it will be a great challenge. 

photography BEN COPE
makeup FABIOLA
interview JANA LETONJA