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Monday, April 28, 2014

Tribeca Interview: Juliette Fairley Talks About Playing a Vampire in 'SUMMER OF BLOOD,' Challenges She's Faced as a Biracial Actress and Her Popular Short Film Series

Juliette Fairley

I had really hoped that after the success of last year's Warm Bodies, we'd see more horror romcoms sprout up. But there hasn't been many that have come down the pipeline. So I was happy to see SUMMER OF BLOOD on the Tribeca Film Festival slate. Onur Tukel wrote, directed and stars in the film that follows Erik (Tukel), a man whose phobia towards marriage and commitment eventually turns him into vampire prey.

Juliette Fairley stars in the film as Denise, one of Erik's recurring dates who he later bites and turns into a vampire. I got a chance to chat with Juliette about her role in the film, challenges she faces as a biracial actress in Hollywood, and her one woman show and film series--Mulatto Saga and Mulatto Diaries. Check it out:

Reel Talk: What interested you in the film?

JF: When I read the script, I laughed throughout and felt motivated to beg, borrow and steal for the role. I put together an awesome audition tape and Onur liked how I handled the character. Voila...that's how I booked Denise.

Reel Talk: How did you hear about the role? What was the audition process like?

JF: I met Onur at the premiere for Red Flag, directed by Alex Karpovsky. Onur starred in Alex's film. When I met Onur, he told me he was in pre-production for Summer of Blood and that there was a role for a woman of color. I put together an audition tape and sent it to him. Here's the audition tape that helped me book the role:


The rest is history!

Reel Talk: How did you prepare for the role of a vampire?

JF: All of the girlfriends, including my character Denise, were outfitted with custom fit fangs as well as cat eye contact lenses. 

Reel Talk: What was it like to have to act with all the blood and effects? Was it as fun as it looked?

JF: The fake blood was so realistic that it was gross, because it got in my hair and stained by clothes and shoes. But overall, it was fun to roll around in bed with blood everywhere. 

Onur Tukel and Juliette Fairley for SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: You’re also known for your one woman show and short film series, Mulatto Saga and Mulatto Diaries, and for helping to elevate the image of biracial characters on both the big and small screens. Can you talk a little about your experience as a biracial actress facing unique challenges in terms of casting and representation?

JF: As a bi-racial actress who looks Latina but doesn't speak Spanish, it can be difficult to find roles I am a good fit for. However, these days I am seeing more casting calls for bi-racial actresses that are ethnically ambiguous or mulatto. We are being written into scripts more often now because President Obama has made it fashionable to be a mix between black and white.

A scene from SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: I really love the dialogue that transpired on Denise’s date with Eric, when he awkwardly comments on her racial identity. Do you often find that your ethnicity becomes a topic of conversation in social situations in your real life?

JF: Definitely when I am on a date, my race will come up. A guy will ask me where I'm from or what nationality I am. I never hide it or try to cover it over. I always tell the truth that I have an African American father and white mother. Anyway, you can pretty much tell when you look at me, so the guys who ask me out generally don't have a problem with dating a girl who may have descended from Africans or African Americans somewhere along the line. Most guys that date me favor bi-racial women...and actually seek us out. But when a guy asks about my "nationality" too soon, it's a turn off.  It feels like he's trying to weed me out. Race shouldn't matter but it still does.

Reel Talk: Why should people watch SUMMER OF BLOOD?

JF: It's funny, and it's a different take on being a vampire. It's more about being a blood addict and needing to drink blood to feel better than killing people.

Onur Tukel in a scene from SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: How has your Tribeca Festival experience been this year? What does having a film at Tribeca mean to you?

JF: It's been exciting. It's a major breakthrough for my acting career. I secured an audition for Law & Order: SVU the day after the premiere so I'm experiencing a higher level of visibility as a result. It means I am at a higher level, closer to my dream of earning all of my income as an actress in studio feature films and paid indie films.

Reel Talk: What’s your dream role? Is there an actor or actress you’d love to work with in the future?

JF: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck, Justin Theroux, Jennifer Aniston, Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, James Franco, Maya Rudolph. Acting in a film with any of these gals and guys would be a dream come true. 

Reel Talk: What other projects are you currently working on?

JF: Hopefully I'll be in the sequel to SUMMER OF BLOOD.


Watch the trailer for SUMMER OF BLOOD:

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