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Interview with Julia Goldani Telles of
"Bunheads" on ABC Family 2/20/13
I really love this show, and I'm hoping it
will get a second season. The writing is fantastic. All of
the characters are unique and interesting, and the dialogue
is beautiful. People are quirky but not generally annoying
or too weird. The show is better-than-life, which is how TV
should be. Julia plays one of the ballet dancers, and she is
so amazing talented. Well, they all are.... she was very
sweet in the interview and gave very thoughtful answers. My
questions are marked in red.
ABC Family’s Q&A with Julia Goldani Telles –
Moderator How much time do you have to
practice every week dancing?
Julia We take private lessons so we get about 2.5 hours of
dance classes per week, and that’s on top of our rehearsals
for the weekly numbers. We just work really, really hard for
like three to five hours on the weekend, and then we shoot
during the week.
Moderator Do you take any other kinds
Julia No I don’t. Really we’re so encompassed by our intense
shooting schedule and by rehearsals and dance classes that
during my free time I just sleep and talk a lot.
Moderator Fans are really, really loving Roman and Sasha
together. Why do you think they work so well as a couple,
and can you tell us a little bit about what’s coming up for
Julia One thing that I really admire that Roman does with
Sasha is that he tells it to her like it is, which she
doesn’t get from a lot of other people in her life. He
understands her and he understands her insecurities and how
she’s scared to be vulnerable, and he sees through her
facade. I think he’s one of the few people that she’s really
let in so he can be real with her and she can be real with
And that’s very rare for Sasha to have a relationship like
that, and throughout this season we’ve seen their
relationship sort of intensifying, and in this last episode
especially she’ becoming more emotionally attached to him.
With that comes wondering what comes next physically, which
is why in this episode she starts obsessively researching
about sex. But I think they’re friends first and foremost,
which is super important.
Moderator Do you have a favorite dance performance from
Julia I think my favorite one, just because it was so
impulsive and fun, was the ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople)’
one because we learned it in three hours, and then we shot
it the next day and none of us knew if it was going to be
good or not and people like that. That was fun.
Moderator So do you get any input in to the choreography or
is it all set before you start? And who are the dancers in
the background? Are they sisters, twins? And what’s it like
dancing to a camera rather than an audience?
Julia They’re not sisters. They’re professional dancers.
(Editor’s note: Mallauri Esquibel and Colleen Craig are
their names.)But no they’re not twins. They’re
Our choreographer Marguerite Derricks is really flexible
about altering things to fit the way we move, and so with
that particular number at the end the choreography had
originally been all of us would just stop and freeze in
those poses. I said to Marguerite, “I really just want to
jump out because I feel like that’s a Sasha thing to do.”
Like she had her five minutes and now she’s leaving, she’s
not going to take anybody’s B.S.
I really felt like that was such a Sasha thing to do and
Marguerite said, “Okay. Walk out.” When we filmed that on
every take I would walk out and slam the door. I got to put
that in to that. I got to shake my hips a little bit more
than the original choreography on that because I thought
that was a way for Sasha to rebel against her traditional
And how is it different dancing for a camera than for an
audience? On this show it’s not so different in that Amy,
our executive producer, really likes to do things in one
shot. That dance number was done in one shot so it was like
it was live. If we messed one thing up it ruined the whole
thing and we had to start over so there were no cuts. When
we do dance numbers that cut to different sections it does
make it easier to make mistakes because we know we can just
do it again.
Moderator In the Coal Miners routine who came up with the
lighting and how long did that take to work out, and did it
present any problems with the lights flashing in your eyes,
Julia I think it was Amy’s idea because in the script it
said \ that the hats come from the fact that the girls had
done a dance number about Billy Elliot and we’d all gotten
black lung at the end because Fanny’s so twisted so that’s
where the hats came from.. I think it was Amy’s idea.
It was hard to figure out the lights because the hats
weren’t tailored special for the dancer or anything so we
had to keep hitting the buttons a certain number of times to
get the right light setting. I had the stomach flu when we
shot that. We shoot one episode every seven days, and so
they let me take two days off, and then a day after I came
back we shot that. It was particularly difficult for me
because I hadn’t eaten in a really long time because I had
Moderator What was it about Sasha that made you interested
in wanting to play her?
Julia Amy Sherman-Palladino is famous for writing these
idiosyncratic female characters. I mean nobody writes chicks
like Amy does and Sasha is so complicated because you look
at her and she’s talented, and she has this perfect ballet
body, but she doesn’t realize the worth of it, and if she
does she doesn’t care. With ballet she’s sort of like this
beautiful disaster, and I think the intricacy of her persona
and her home life and how all of that ties in to her
friendships—she’s just an intricate character, which I love
about her, and also the fact that she’s rebellious and
that’s just really fun to play. It’s fun to make trouble.
It’s not fun to be a goody two-shoes I think. I’m a goody
two-shoes in real life.
Moderator How are you similar and how are you different to
Sasha other than the ballet obviously and the dancing?
Julia We’re similar in that I think we share sort of similar
dry humor and sarcasm, and also in the last episode of the
season you see that Sasha’s really a planner and an over
analyzer. I compulsively research everything before I do
anything. I’m not impulsive at all, and she’s like that in
that she’s thinking about having sex so she buys every book
about sex ever written, and she’s on every website, and
she’s asking everyone to talk to her about it. Whenever I
make decisions about anything I do research like that.
We’re different in that she has terrible parents, and I have
great parents. I think she’s a little bit more blunt than I
am, although I’ve started noticing that if I play her for
too long I start saying things that I wouldn’t otherwise,
like I start losing my filter.
Moderator Seeing how Sasha is so different from you in
certain ways how do you relate to her? What ways do you find
to relate to her to be able to play her?
Julia I find her honesty very relatable, she has her façade
of just being cool and not caring but she really feels
things deeply. She’s very sensitive, and I think the people
who are closest to her can sort of see through her façade,
and see that she’s sort of just really, really hurting. I
think that’s what I admire about her is that there’s really
no intended pretension. She’s just trying to figure out who
she is and she’s really, really alone.
I think that she does a great job of taking care of herself
in a situation where a lot of people would crack and turn to
hardcore drugs and she’s not. She’s doing well for herself,
and I admire that she’s maturing, and I really love that
she’s honest with her friends. She genuinely cares for
people. She’s bonded with Michelle. They take care of each
other. I remember in Episode 4 she bought new pointe shoes
when Boo couldn’t get new ones because she couldn’t afford
them. It’s just the little things that Sasha does that makes
me love her.
Moderator What’s it like to be on a show where you can meld
both your love for acting and your love for dance?
Julia It’s really great. It’s such a unique opportunity. I
didn’t realize that I’d get to do both at once. It’s double
the work but I’m definitely not complaining. I will do this
forever. I’m in love with it.
Moderator What is it like working with Sutton Foster and
what do you think about the relationship between those
Julia I love the relationship between those characters. I
always knew it would evolve but I didn’t really know how,
and I think the way that it’s played out is really beautiful
and honest and very touching. I’ve grown closer with Sutton
as we’ve worked together more and more. I look up to her so
much. She’s an incredible role model. She’s a great person,
and I think she’s really a great example of how you can be
successful and professional but you can also not lose your
sense of humor and your quirkiness and you can still be
relatable. She’s really a great role model.
Moderator How do you think Sasha has grown since that very
first episode we met her?
Julia Oh my gosh she’s grown a lot. It actually surprised me
how much. I thought she’d grow a little slower, but I’m glad
that it’s happening so fast. When you first met Sasha she
was very in the middle of this terrible marriage that her
parents had, and she was incredibly unhappy. She didn’t know
how to have a human connection that didn’t make her feel
vulnerable and exposed. I think she tried a bunch of
different things to try and find herself. She tried to
rebel, and she tried to steal, and she tried to just be mean
to everyone, and then she tried to cry, and I think she’s
finally kind of finding her footing a little bit more.
I think it’s great that her parents you know peaced out and
she’s living by herself because they’re terrible influences
on her, and that Michelle is acting as this mother figure.
She’s really learning how to take care of herself and how to
take care of other people. The Sasha we met in the pilot
would never cook for her friends. She’d never be able to
have an honest conversation with a boy about how she felt,
and she’d never be able to give Michelle a hug and cry on
her shoulder so I think she’s come a long way.
Moderator Did you have to audition before Marguerite
Derricks, the choreographer, to get on the show, and in
general what was the audition process like?
Moderator I didn’t audition for Marguerite for the pilot. I
auditioned for Amy Sherman-Palladino who is a dancer
herself. She got up and she demonstrated the combination for
us at my third audition, and I was so intimidated and so
impressed because Amy can really, really dance. She’s not
just writing a show about dance; she really understands
every single little thing she’s talking about from an injury
to knowing every scene of a Sleeping Beauty ballet. She
knows it all.
The process was I went in once and I read and I danced for a
little bit for a casting director, and then I went in twice
for Amy Sherman-Palladino, and I had a dance call with the
other Sasha’s and the other girls that I was competing with.
We were all dancing together, which was just awful because I
saw my competition. So after my third audition with Amy they
called me and they said, “We’re going to fly you to L.A. and
you’re going to screen test.” I was really excited, and then
they called the next day and they said, “Oh never mind” and
I was like, “What?! What do you mean never mind?” So I
thought, “Okay. Great. They found some blonde girl in L.A.
who is going to play Sasha now.” No offense to the blondes.
I was really upset, and then they called the day after and
they said, “Oh we just met with the network. We want her.”
So it was good. I didn’t have to fly out to L.A. and screen
test, but the process was a month long and it was a lot of
calling back and forth. It was my first audition so I didn’t
really know what to expect, and I harassed my agent more
than he deserved.
Moderator Has there been any talk about doing a dance tour?
Julia We always joke that we could do a dance tour because
we have so many dance numbers, but there really hasn’t been
talk about it. I think that would have to come from Amy. I’d
love to though.
Moderator How it was that you got involved with dancing and
acting in your life.
Julia I started dancing when I was five in Brazil, and kept
dancing when I moved to the U.S., and all I wanted to do was
be a professional ballerina, and then I got injured. I got
labral tears, which is like an old lady injury for your
hips, not super beautiful, and I went to a bunch of doctors
and they said, “You will never dance again” and it was this
very dramatic thing. I finally went to a sane doctor and he
said, “Just take a year off or it’s not going to be good for
you” so I took a year off, and I was really depressed. I
didn’t know what to do with myself and I took a year to be a
normal teenager basically because before all I would do was
dance for six hours every day after school, but I was
really, really bored.
I always wanted to act but I used to live in L.A. The
injuries were happening when I lived here in New York, but I
grew up in L.A. I always wanted to act when I lived out
there and my parents never wanted me to because they don’t
want me to be one of those actor kids, and they wanted me to
get an education. And so they never let me, and then finally
I somehow got them to let me take acting lessons on the year
I took off, which was in 10th grade and now I’m in 12th
So I took an acting class, and the acting teacher was said,
“I want to send you to an agent” and my parents were like,
“No!” and I was like, “Yes.” They sent me to an agent and
the agent said, “Okay. I’m going to send you on this. It’s
for a pilot called Bunheads which you’ll be able to dance.
Don’t worry if you’ve never read a script before” and I’d
never read a script before so I was freaking out. And then I
went in and I read and I danced, and I really think that
part of the reason it worked out was because I really had no
idea what I was doing. I think maybe deep down I thought
like I had a shot because I didn’t realize how many other
girls were going against me. And so that’s how it happened.
Moderator Do you have a behind-the- scenes favorite memory
or playing or shenanigans or something that you think our
readers might like to learn about what goes on in Bunheads
when the cameras aren’t rolling?
Julia When I first met Garret who plays Roman I had eaten a
lot of sugar, and sugar does not do good things to me, and
so I was throwing those little booties we wear on the show
at him from a balcony in the dance studio. He was just
sitting there reading his lines and I was throwing the
booties at him, and we hadn’t even met so that was
I have this one memory of shooting the mid-season finale,
which is when Michelle leaves as we do a tribute to Walt
Whitman. The entire season we all wanted to do a prank and
we said, “Okay. We’re going to do a prank” but we all
chickened out every single time, and then when we were
getting up to do ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’ we decided that on
the fourth take we were all going to start dancing because
that’s harmless. So I guess I forgot how to count, and I did
it on the third take and we got up and it was this really
serious scene where everybody is supposed to be crying and I
started dancing and nobody else did it with me because I
counted the takes wrong. Amy was directing and she’s like,
“What the hell.” It was incredibly awkward.
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