Last year, Julia Marley appeared as a Holy Harmony Dancer in new comedy series Dead to Me for a number of episodes, with the show being nominated for many awards and is due to start work on The Prom, the upcoming film adaptation of the stage musical, which will see her in a cast including James Corden and Meryl Streep. Julia has performed in theatre, most recently in Matilda the Musical, and is a mentor for Allwayz On Stage, and along with her acting and dance career, she also runs her own YouTube channel and has released her debut single My Place. Talking with us, Julia tells us about being involved with The Prom, appearing in Dead to Me and uploading to her self-titled YouTube channel.
How did it feel on your first day on set of the upcoming film The Prom?
I actually haven’t started filming yet. The first day of rehearsal though was completely surreal. I’ve grown up loving and appreciating musical theatre, so it’s truly a dream project!
What’s it like being part of the cast?
It’s absolutely amazing! I greatly admire all of our principles, so it’s really exciting to see them in action. Everyone comes to rehearsal with such positive and passionate energy, and I’m so inspired by their professionalism. It’s truly a wonderful work environment.
What are you looking forward to for the release?
I can’t wait for the world to experience this beautiful story! It’s fun and upbeat, with fantastic dancing and singing. The creative team and cast are doing a remarkable job in showing our audience how we can embrace our differences. The movie is uplifting, and a must-watch for everyone!
Had you seen the Broadway musical before auditioning for the film?
No, but the funny thing is, I was actually in NYC when I got the first audition for the movie. In the morning, I filmed and sent in my audition, and that night I saw Hadestown on Broadway. Being encompassed by the energy of Broadway, it was very exciting to be auditioning for such a huge project.
The next day I saw Mean Girls, which shares The Prom’s choreographer, Casey Nicholaw. I absolutely loved the choreography. I have dreamed of working with Mr. Nicholaw for as long as I can remember… I never would have thought it would be so soon! It is such an honour to get to work and learn from someone who has inspired you.
Can you tell us about appearing in Dead to Me?
Yes! In episodes six and ten of Season One, I can be seen as a Holy Harmony Dancer. I also had the privilege of returning for Season Two, which is set to be released later this year.
I had the best time working on Dead to Me, with the talented cast and the choreographers, John Carrafa and Nancy Renee Braun. I really enjoyed being on the set – everyone was very kind and welcoming.
What was it like working alongside Meg DeAngelis on the web series Crashed?
Filming Crashed was a night I’ll never forget! In my episode, YouTube star Meg DeAngelis crashed my sleepover party. I had no idea that she was going to be there, so my reaction was 100% real! It was such a cool experience. She was really sweet and gave me great advice about being yourself online.
You’ve performed in musical theatre, can you tell us about a couple of your roles?
My most recent role was a Bully Kid in the Southern California Regional Premiere of Matilda with 5-Star Theatricals. It was a dream show for me ever since I saw it on Broadway in 2016.
In Bring it On I got to be a cheerleader, and in Children of Eden I got to be an ostrich! I love how theatre challenges our imagination and creativity.
As a singer-songwriter, you released your debut single My Place last year, what was this like?
It was really exciting! I have some other original short songs on my YouTube channel, Julia Marley, but My Place is the first song that I had professionally produced. The process was incredibly challenging, but even more rewarding.
The themes of the song are acceptance, belonging, and feeling loved. My favourite lyrics are, “Turning battle scars into beauty marks, come with all your broken parts”.
How did your music, acting and dance career come about?
My parents say I’ve been performing ever since I could speak! I started in local community theatre when I was six. As I got older, my passion for theatre grew stronger. The more I was exposed to professional theatre, the more serious I got. I’ve made sacrifices over the past few years that have allowed me to focus more on my career. I also have the most supportive family! I often think about how fortunate I am to have grown up in a community that not only appreciates the arts, but provides countless opportunities to participate.
Did you have a favourite performer when growing up?
Many performers inspired me (and still do!), I can’t say that I had one particular favourite, but I always admired kids on Disney Channel and Broadway. It’s really inspiring to see people the same age as you accomplish incredible things.
You are a mentor for Allwayz On Stage, can you tell us more about this?
Allwayz On Stage is a non-profit theatre company for young adults with special needs. I have been a mentor for the past seven years. We put on mainstage shows in the summer, and the mentors lead theatre-related workshops in the fall.
One of my favourite parts about the company is getting to watch the performers grow – not only as actors, but as people. No matter your abilities, the theatre is a place for people to come together and make magic.
What style of dance did you learn first and do you have a favourite to perform?
I started in a baby ballet/tap class, but hip hop is my favourite style of dance to perform. I love the fierceness that the style requires. For the past few years I’ve been training in LA, with well-known choreographers including Willdabeast Adams, Matt Steffanina, Guy Groove and Phil Wright.
Getting to learn from some of the best in the industry is something I don’t take for granted! The energy in studios such as Millennium Dance Complex and Playground LA is undeniable. The other dancers in the room inspire me, and the teachers challenge me to push myself out of my comfort zone.
Can you tell us about your YouTube channel and what your plans are for it?
Sure! I post a wide variety of content on my YouTube channel – from original songs to comedy skits to vlogs. I absolutely love YouTube and creating content. I want to build a platform that spreads positivity and inspiration – themed with the arts, of course!
What are your career plans for the next few months?
I’m really excited to continue rehearsals for The Prom and begin filming this month. I just wrapped a short film called Forte, and I’m excited to see the finished product. I will continue training in dance, acting, and voice, and upload frequently to my YouTube channel. I’m looking forward to seeing where my journey leads me!
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