With the online edition of our South Europe International Film Festival taking place in October we are delighted to be joined by one of our nominated stars Anna Just.
Anna thank you so much for joining us and a massive congratulation on your successful nomination. I understand this is your first nomination for your role in 'Extradition'? Tell us more about this project and your involvement?
Thank you so much for your warm welcome at the Green Room! I am thrilled to have received a Nomination for the Best Supporting Actress for our TV Pilot ‘EXTRADITION’ at the South Europe International Film Festival! It is a great honour and a huge surprise to be recognised for my work!
EXTRADITION was born as a discussion of current political events in USA and Ukrainian border military activity with Russia-with my co-producer and co-star Kristin Samuelson, who wrote the script of the pilot. We are very excited that EXTRADITION introduces two strong female characters, which we both developed and brought to an unusual twist: a rare in film situation of cooperation of female lead characters instead of opposition. Also, the story is driven by women.
Before EXTRADITION, I produced several short films and invited a team of filmmakers, who I loved working with previously: DP – Toru Nishikubo, AD – Samantha Winter, Sound Mixer – Zach Travis, actress Stefania Makarova and actress and associate producer Devi Morgan, and an amazing Director and co-star Anthony Grasso, who I had been studying on- camera acting and audition technique with.
Your career to date has involved a lot of traveling, from Ukraine to Japan, to New Zealand and now New York. Tell me about your early interests in the creative industry and your journey to where you are now?
I was born in a family of music-teachers and as a tiny kid was involved in performing arts! I was trained in classical ballet since age 4 and spent years on stage as a soloist in childrens dance group. I started my modelling career in my teens and it took me to Russia first, then to Japan. I got involved in a TV-Commercial word in Tokyo, which eventually brought me to
hosting and reporting work on a TV Program about Japanese culture and food, called ‘COOL JAPAN’. I have always been fascinated by the blue screen and wanted to work in film, so I studied Meisner technique in the Actors Studio in Wellington, New Zealand. Finally, I found my way to NYC to take a full time conservatory program at the renown Neighbourhood Playhouse and then William Esper Studio theater studios.
You seem so dedicated to finding opportunities by relocating- is this something that you find easy to do or had you hoped to settle in one location sooner?
I always had a dream of living in NYC and acting. Life had a very interesting plan for me and filled my path with incredible twists and turns. I enjoy surprises and surrender to new adventures. I come from a very simple background of a small province town with little to hardly any opportunities. My life is a mix of hard work, positivity, child-like belief in dreams and miracles.
Do you mind that you are often cast as the foreign figure, femme fatale, Russian agent etc... or is it a case of it's what works for you as a performer and those behind the camera?
I love creating my own work as much as being cast in other small and large scale TV and Film projects. I have a lot of experience, that I can bring to the table as an actor. Brilliant actors are interesting people with unusual life circumstances. When you have faced a kaleidoscope of fascinating events – your inner world has opened several exquisite ways for character creation; your art becomes as marvelous and captivating as the world your imagination has drawn for you!
2020 has been very eventful around the world and the film industry has been hugely impacted, do you have any plans so get back filming any time soon?
I was lucky to be a part of an acting program that started right at the beginning of quarantine. It was a full-time program and kept my connected and ‘sane’ during the lockdown. I have worked on meeting industry professionals and polishing my self-taping skills and marketing materials. I am super ready to jump on the new wave of production!
o you think that virtual auditions will become more and more popular with the current situation? Is this something you are comfortable with or do you think it can lose the impact of your performance as opposed to being in front of the casting director etc?
I love the opportunity to work at the comfort of my home and to practice and choose my best self tapes for submissions. As much as having a human in the same room with you is helpful, it can bring an incredible amount of stress and nerves. Working from home gives you freedom to work with a coach on zoom. Also, traveling to a different side of the city for a 2 min audition, often in traffic, is draining and time-consuming. Now, that I am a new mom, being home with my baby and being able to audition is fantastic!
And finally do you have any plans to write and direct projects or are you happy with where you are in the world at the moment?
I am always working on the next project. Somehow when one thing ends there are always new ideas and thoughts about where I am headed. I can not imagine a state of ‘Not doing’ unless I am in meditation. But of course one can argue that even then one is doing – breathing, concentrating and living. I value the down time, however I believe it is the ‘incubation’ period for the next step.
Anna, thank you for joining us, your support of Fusion has been wonderful and we hope we get to see you in person at one of our festivals very soon. You are now free to leave The Green Room.
Thank you so much for inviting me to join your Green Room! It was lovely to size up the achievements of the past, enjoy the current world and plan for the future! It is a very special time for me as we are celebrating a Jewish New Year and reflect on Yom Kippur. Shana Tova and May your Name be inscribed in the Book of Life!
I am looking forward to the festival!