Juliana Barros is a Portuguese actress living in England. From childhood dream to career goal, she tells us about her acting passion and the film industry.
Juliana describes herself as a woman doing everything to keep her head on her shoulders and her feet on ground. She knows the art industry can be difficult. Indeed, this is not the kind of environment where you can just dream and wait for an opportunity without actually doing something to get it!
If I’m auditioning and I don’t get the job, I have to bounce back and keep my head up. You have to stay focused and optimistic. I keep going and tell myself that I will get it next time. Like everyone else, I try to be a good person, staying humble and treating everyone the way I want them to treat me.
Optimistic and enthusiastic are words that describe Juliana, who wanted to be an actress from day one.
ACTRESS ? JULIANA’S CHILD DREAM
Juliana was born in Portugal 27 years ago from a Cape Verdean father and a Brazilian mother. One day, she sees her father on TV …
I think I must have been 4-5 years old, my father used to be a well known goalkeeper back in the 80s/ 90s, so one day he did a special appearance in a comedy TV show and as I was watching it, I got confused. I couldn’t understand why he was saying and doing things he wouldn’t normally do. So, I was asking my mum all these questions and I remember being really intrigued about what “Acting” was and I wanted to do it too!
Growing up, Juliana realizes that acting is much more than imitating someone and playing a role. It is also a way to know yourself. It is like constant self-therapy that allows you to learn about yourself every day.
Honestly, there are days I still don’t understand what acting really is, but I believe that putting myself in someone else’s shoes will help me understand my own personality.
It is important today to know who you are and to know what you want. However, as humans, we also need to feel supported by those around us. We know that some parents project their dreams and desires onto their children, and we also know parents who think that professions related to art are useless or too difficult. Are they right? It’s up to you. However, supporting your child’s choices can make a big difference. That is the case with Juliana.
JULIANA: « MY FAMILY HAS ALWAYS SUPPORTED ME »
My mother says I talked about acting a lot when I was growing up. She knew one day I would leave Portugal to go to England or the United States, simply because there are more opportunities out there. My parents always motivated me to pursue my dream. They watch everything I do. I come from a family of teachers, engineers, etc., but they always pushed and supported me from the very first moment I decided to pursue acting as a career, which is something completely different from what they are used to in the family.
Juliana recognizes that without family support, pursuing your dreams can be though. For some people, the lack of support from their loved ones can also be a source of motivation. However, Julianna knows that she is rather lucky. It was with the blessings of both her parents that she began taking acting lessons at the age of 12. By the time she finished university, she had already decided to leave her home country and fly to England.
It was at that moment (when I got to University) that I realised < Ok, this is actually happening >
Those were great years. I met many people, had good and bad experiences, but it’s all part of the game. I learned a lot about myself and others around me, specially because this is a job where you study people. You have to understand the human being. It made me grow as an individual and that’s what I love about this job.
À LIRE AUSSI : PORTRAIT 🇬🇦 : PRNL, UNE AMOUREUSE DE LA DANSE AFRO
ACTING ? IT’S A MARATHON
On the contrary to what many people think, being an actress is very difficult. A degree is not enough to give you a great career. There is absolutely no guarantee that once you finish those acting lessons, you will land on a role in a Netflix film or other big production.
There are actors who are lucky enough to get a big role and be rich for life, and there are actors like me, who need to chase hard after opportunities. You can’t just sit at home waiting for those doors to open. You have to knock on every single one. As long as you like what you do, this marathon is not really a problem. It is true that connections are needed, like any other job, but above all you have to prepare yourself. You need to read a lot of books, a showreel, you have to improve your skills (accents, dance, fights, etc.). Basically, you have to know how to present and sell yourself to the world.
Yes, the cinema industry requires a lot of work, but it is also a profession where we are constantly judged not only on our skills, but also on our physique. The judgment is even harsher on women.
In this industry, you sell your face. It’s your work tool, and that’s hard. Being judged on your physique is really tough. You may be denied a role because you are too fat or too thin, or not tall enough. This sort of rejection can be difficult to accept.
To prevent herself from feeling down or sad, Juliana does everything she can to stay focused and continue to believe in herself. However, it is not always easy.
Sometimes it’s funny to be in a audition and see hundreds of your lookalikes. It’s hilarious, but at the same time you find yourself thinking « why would this girl get the role when she looks just like me? » Mentally, you have to be strong. To distinguish yourself, you have to rely on your energy and leave a good impression, because there is always going to be someone more talented, more experienced than you, but you have to remember you will have a chance to prove you’re different.
A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY
It’s a little more complicated when you’re a woman, you know? A lady cannot show up in an audition with poorly styled hair or manicure. We always need makeup, even when we are asked to look natural, we still need natural makeup. It requires a bit more effort than men.
The film industry has different criteria for women and men. Nevertheless, it is changing, slowly, but surely.
Indeed, things are changing and it’s great. There are more roles given to chubby women, black women, black actors, etc. It is a very good thing.
FROM PLAYS TO FRENEMIES
From appearances in music videos, plays to big projects like Frenemies, Juliana has experience.
I started acting in plays when I was very little. Then at university, when I was 19-20, I did my first short film and the difference between the two destabilized me. In theatre, we speak loud, everything is amplified, and we direct our energy to the public. In films, every movement has to be small, minimized and precise. It took me a while to figure out how to switch from one to another.
It was only when she arrived in London that she started wondering how could she make a living from her job. How could she become a professional? She began talking to people in the industry and related areas. She hardly had any work spoken in English, all in Portuguese, and that made her realize how limited the amount of work she was getting really was. So, she starts building an English showreel and a book in order to find an agent to represent her.
From thread to needle, the number of roles she gets starts growing. That’s how she embarks on a project called Frenemies.
When I read the scrip, I immediately knew I wanted to do it. It’s a story that speaks to me. The film takes place in south of London where violence, drugs, sex and betrayals are common. It’s a film based on a true story and it reaches out to many people. In addition, the production team and the directors were motivated to really make it happen. We all wanted to make it real and that’s what cinema really is. For a short period of time, you and all the people involved in the project become a family with a common goal and you do everything you can to reach it.
Frenemies will be available for streaming in mid-July on Amazon Prime Video UK
Even now, I can’t believe it. It’s crazy !
Juliana Barros should be proud of the path she has taken and continues to travel. Pursuing her dream until the end, without looking back and living every day to the fullest, that’s her way of life.
I don’t see myself doing anything else. Each job has its pros and cons, but that’s what makes me thrive. I’ve met actors who are 70-80 years old and I tell them « I want to be like you some day! ». That’s what I love about this job, it’s different every day. You just have to cling onto it and make it spark in each project.