• Oliver Boon

Critic meets Julia Stier

Updated: Apr 28


Critic

What made you want to be an actor?

Julia

I started like a lot of other actors doing childhood plays at a Church or the Rec Center. It’s weird because when I was younger, I wanted to be a singer and thought musical theater was going to be the track I was going to go down. Then I moved from Chicago to Texas when I was 12, and it was such a huge change, both location-wise and culturally. When I got my new school, I knew I wanted to join the theater class, which wasn't a thing in Illinois. No one really took it seriously there. But when I moved to Texas, I was immediately embraced by this community and so it became how I made friends. When you're 12 and a fish out of water, that's a very comforting thing. I went to a public school in Texas and because it was so big, they had the people and resources to develop a really great and competitive program. Then in my freshman year of high school, I just got it in my head that I wanted to go to USC. From the age of 14, I knew, this is what I'm doing – I'm going to work hard, get into an acting program, move to LA and it was just a very clear path up until I got into college. After college it was like, “Oh, my gosh, the real world is so different!” I had to deal with the reality of it. But getting there was really clear and so the desire to be an actor stemmed from community.

CRITIC

How was the jump moving to LA? How long did it take for you to get adjusted?

JULIA

Having gone through two big moves in my life, I found at least for me, and I don't mean to say this to discourage people, it takes about three years to really settle into your new location. In the first year there's a lot of fear and uncertainty. The second year, you are starting to find where you fit in. By the third year things really start to gel. When I moved to Texas, it wasn't until the third year that I finally started embracing what Texas had. In terms of LA, I really felt I hit my stride by my junior year. I would say the first year out of school was really, really hard, because the LA I was living in was not the LA I had been living in for four years. USC was a small bubble. It's very much its own community and its own culture. Moving out of that, it felt like I was properly moving to LA and I really struggled that first year, trying to find where I fit now in this post-grad place. I would say if anybody's thinking of moving to somewhere like LA or New York, give it three years. That is a fair amount of time to find the people who make it feel like home and to find where you fit in.


CRITIC

Now I know you have a long list of creative outlets. Care to list a few?

JULIA

Since graduating, which has been about two years, I've worked as an actress, model, playwright, assistant director, writer, voiceover artist, producer, critic, singer, songwriter, theater instructor and stand-up comedian. My roommate actually turned to me one day and said “Julia, I think you're a workaholic” and I told her, “I think you might be right”. I like keeping busy. It can be really hard in the entertainment industry because a lot of times it feels like you're waiting for permission from someone else. This is kind of my way of filling that time. It can be hard, as sometimes you feel like you’re doing so much that isn’t acting and you ask yourself “Am I still an actor?”. Then there comes that fear. But I really find that a lot of it feeds each other. For example, working as a Theater Critic, I've learned so much about acting and playwriting from seeing so much theater. Even though it’s not acting, it's still teaching me about, and involving me in, the theatre community.

CRITIC

How did you get to write for Stage Raw?

JULIA

It's funny. I got that because I had started writing theater critiques in college. Someone came into my text analysis class, freshman year, and needed someone to do theater critiques. It wasn’t paid, but the perk was I got two free tickets to basically any show in LA. Later, I started interviewing all of the different people on campus who were doing different student shows. I was writing so much, I eventually got hired to be the editor, which was a paid job. The very first show that I got to see as the new editor was the opening night of Hamilton – Lin Manuel Miranda even made an appearance! One of my mentors at USC recommended me to Steven Lee Morris over at Stage Raw who was looking for some younger critics. I've enjoyed being a part of the theatre critic community. It's been really special and welcoming.

CRITIC

Can you talk to me about some projects you've recently done or have been postponed?

JULIA

One of my big projects that was postponed was at the 2Cents Theatre Group’s three day festival, Inkfest, that celebrates female-identifying and non-binary playwrights. I was actually in it as an actor for the show, Dreaming of Women. I do a lot of work with Theatricum Botanicum which was how I earned my eligibility for Actors Equity. I don't really know what's happening with them right now. We're all just kind of holding our breaths and seeing what happens when all this is over. As of right now, I'm working a lot on my blog (Players, Performers & Portrayers). In terms of the shows, I want to say Inkfest is coming back. That's what I'm looking forward to!

CRITIC

I saw that you’re recently started doing Stand Up.


JULIA

I was talking to a friend about maybe moving to New York and he told me to have a three-minute stand up in my pocket as something that I’d be able to pull out. He gave me a really great recommendation to this class at the Clown House. I had no idea when I signed up for it that our final was going to be at the Comedy Store. It ended up being this amazing experience! I've only done two shows, because I haven't put in the work of going to the open mics because I've always felt that there’s been a little misogyny when I’ve gone. At open mics there are 35-year-old men who are like “I don't get it.” and I'm like “Well, of course you don’t, I was a 23-year-old woman.” Our lives are not the same. I've always been the youngest in the room, and I've always been one of two females. I'm more of a storytelling comedian than one who does a lot of one liners. I feel like I'm much better at telling the story, then ending with a punchline. I think they're funny because they're relatable. A lot of it has to do with being a young woman, which for open mics, that isn't your audience. That's why I like shows better, because they tend to have mixed audiences. The main reason I got into stand-up comedy was because my dream is to be in half-hour comedies and be a writer-actor. I heard that stand up was a great way to get on a writing team or writing staff.

I've been so in the theater scene that it's actually taken away from my ability to do television and film. Television is ultimately what I want to do. I'm realizing that all the stuff I did for theater, I have to do for television. That includes reading, watching, learning. I'm kind of just taking the time to self-educate. Just learning how to even get your foot in the door for that meeting. It's exciting because it's a challenge, but it's also so frustrating because there's like 12 million steps between here and where I want to be, but you just have to start somewhere and create your own opportunities.

I think that's actually another piece of advice I’d give. Find the medium that works for you. In college I took a class about ‘Going Viral.’ The teacher was trying to encourage us to get our voice out there and I just wasn’t comfortable with that. It just didn’t feel natural for me to say into a camera, “Hey guys, I'm Julia…!”. I admire people who can do it, but I found that the best way for me to get my voice out there was writing. That's actually a big reason why I started ‘Players Performance and Portrayers’ because it's content creation, but it's genuine. It's the world I live in. You can find the medium that works for you and still get that across. I'm meeting incredible people doing this. There are things you can do where you don't have to sacrifice what feels genuine to you. Use the platform that you feel the most comfortable with, and it'll read well.


CRITIC

How would you describe your style as a playwright?

JULIA

So far, I have been mostly doing one acts and 10-minute plays. And yeah, I like the format because it really allows me to look at one specific moment and explore the intricacies of that. A lot of my writing stems from what I've experienced. The best example of that is the play that I did in New York called Last Night in Town. I actually started writing it while I was studying abroad in England. The two characters in the play (Tatiana and Sirine) were the two sides of me. Tatiana really likes adventure and she's very flighty and always on the go, while Sirine has chosen to stay in one place, start a family and plant some roots. I think those are two sides of me. I want both of them and I don't always feel like they go together. It was my way of dealing with these two desires. What would each life look like? I would like to write more fiction because I get really self-conscious sometimes when it's too close to home. I get that fear of “Will people be able to tell that this character is based on me?” I also get kind of nervous that people are gonna see the fictional parts and think it's fact, so I've been trying to walk that line.

CRITIC

I know it must have been about a month ago now, but what was the last show you saw that really impacted you?

JULIA

As a critic for Stage Raw, I saw this show called Self Injurious Behavior by Jessica Cavanaugh. It was incredible. The play was a semi-autobiographical account about her dealing with her son's severe autism. It was really interesting in the play how she had to make the hard decision to commit him to a care facility. Furthermore, half the play took place at their home and then the other half took place at a Renaissance Fair. I wasn’t sure the RenFaire setting was going to work, but it totally did. It was a fantastic show.

CRITIC

What is the best acting note you've been given?


JULIA

I might completely butcher this. My director from Romeo and Juliet told me that acting is like alcohol. If you take a few shots of acting, you start to get a little messy, and if you take three shots of acting, you're a mess and no one wants that. Basically, he was trying to tell us, don't act, just be. That was really good advice, especially for Shakespeare. A really cool exercise he had us do that actually made its way into the production is, he took the scene where Juliet finds out Romeo has been banished and told me to say the monologue as fast as possible. We ended up shaving like a minute and a half off-of the scene just by taking the air out.

CRITIC

You seem to do a lot of Shakespeare!

JULIA

I love Shakespeare. I like working on text I can trust. I've gotten pulled into some funky work out here but even if it's a super low budget show, you can't really mess up with Shakespeare. I just love the storytelling of it. I always love the people I meet when I work on Shakespeare, and I also love that I'm protected by a playwright whose work you almost can't mess up.

CRITIC

What is your favorite word?

JULIA

Well, if I'm being honest, my favorite word is ‘Yes’. If I'm being sentimental, my favorite word is ‘lilac’. I have a lot of positive memories associated with the word from childhood. But I would still say my favorite word is ‘Yes’. There's nothing I love hearing more than ‘Yes’.


www.juliastier.com/

www.instagram.com/juliastier/

medium.com/players-performers-portrayers




Interviewed by Oliver Boon on Zoom

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