JULIA GOLDANI-TELLES IN NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 2014.
“I love playing troublemakers,” says Julia Goldani-Telles, who is getting good at it. The 19-year-old actress stars as precocious eldest daughter Whitney in The Affair, the new Showtime drama co-starring Dominic West and Maura Tierney as a couple coping with his extramarital affair. The role was a significant change of pace for Goldani-Telles, whose last serious role was on the ABC Family ballet drama Bunheads. “Whitney’s much more in touch with her sexuality than characters I’ve played before,” she says. “To deal with that and present it in a certain way is important. It was interesting thinking about her as a strong person of agency and a smart young woman but also an emotionally fragile and naive young girl.”
Goldani-Telles grew up between Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, and New York, the daughter of two professors who dissuaded her from acting professionally. She danced instead, with her eye on joining the company of the American Ballet Theatre. When an injury derailed her ballet career at age 16, she implored her parents to reconsider: “I told them, ‘Okay, now you have to let me act because I can’t do anything else.’ ” Acting class led to an agent, then, in short order, Bunheads, along with guest spots on The Carrie Diaries and Nurse Jackie, where she played “a horrible influence who didn’t realize how horrible she was and probably would grow up to be a sociopath. I loved it.”
After reading the script for The Affair, she was immediately obsessed with it. “I thought about it all the time,” she says. “I wanted it so bad. I cut out a picture of Dominic and Maura and pasted myself in and sent it to my agent saying, ‘Look how much we look alike!’ ” The persistence has paid off for the scrappy actress. “I’ve always been ambitious in everything I do,” she says. “It’s so hard in this industry. I’m going to fight for things and compete with myself. I just want to do this in as healthy a way as possible and see what I can do.”
To see Julia’s video for Interview’s Talent Show, click here.