Talk Nerdy With Us recently had the pleasure of chatting with Canadian actress Ana Golja. Ana is known for “Connor Undercover”, “Degrassi: The Next Generation” and “Full Out.” Keep reading to find out what Ana had to say about her upcoming singing and acting projects!
When did you film “Full Out?”
A year ago next week, actually!
Did you film it after you’d finished “Degrassi” or while you were still doing “Degrassi?”
At that time I had just finished season 14 of “Degrassi.” Then I went right into production on “Full Out.”
What was your audition process like for “Full Out?”
It was pretty simple. It was one audition. I received the script from my agent. She said look it over, see if you’re interested. I read it. I absolutely adored the story and really saw a lot of myself in Ariana! I said, “Yes, I really want to go into this project.” I went into the audition, did the scene. Usually auditions are pretty formal. You go in, you do what you’re told. That’s it and you’re out.
I felt so passionately about the project that I decided to give a spontaneous speech and convince them as to why I was the right person to play Ariana. I ultimately think that’s what got me the part. (Laughs). Yeah, that was it. The one audition and I got it.
Do you remember your speech at all?
I remember bits and pieces. I was just talking about how Ariana and I are similar in terms of drive and upbringing. Then I talked about how I could handle the role physically because I had a background in dancing and cheerleading with “Degrassi.” I was like, “I’m willing to put in all the hours needed. I will go above your expectations,” and da da da da da. It was a passionate speech. I do remember that.
On “Degrassi” did you do your own stunts? Was that you actually doing all the cheerleading stunts?
Yes! “Degrassi” was 100% all me.
Did you do train for it?
We did a few weeks of training with a professional cheer team. That was such a crazy experience. I had never done cheerleading in my life. Again, thankfully, I had my dance experience. That did help me, but wow! It’s a completely different world.
For “Full Out,” how much of the gymnastics or dancing was you?
I did all of the dancing, and then the gymnastics I did all of the dancing within the routines. With the theme routine I did everything except the closing. On the floor, again, I did all the dancing, but I didn’t do the actual passes obviously. Those are, like, Olympic-level. Yeah, I did quite a bit. I did about 8 weekends of training beforehand for the film because I wanted to do as many of the stunts myself as possible. The ones that I couldn’t do, Ariana herself did.
Do you now have a favorite event in gymnastics to watch?
I would say floor is my favorite event.
What was it like doing a biopic and portraying Ariana, who is a real person?
It was nerve-wracking! Having her on set was kind of a double-edged sword. It was amazing because I got all this insider info and I ended up developing an incredible friendship with Ariana. She’s definitely someone I’d say is, you know, a friend for life. At the same time, it was definitely a lot of pressure having her there. It’s a lot of pressure playing someone who’s deceased, let alone who’s there with you every step of the way.
In the future, are doing biopics something that you’re interested in?
Oh, absolutely. For me, it’s not what the project is – whether it be a film, a biopic or whatever – I just want to really connect to the script and to the character. I want to really go on a journey with them. I don’t really care what genre or what medium it’s in.
“Full Out” was released online via The Family Channel. For people not in Canada, like myself, are there plans for a digital release via, Amazon or iTunes or anything?
There are actually plans for a TV release in the US, and internationally after that. Everything is kind of in the works right now. I wish I could give you more information at this point, but you will definitely be able to see “Full Out” soon.
You’re also working on “Dumb Luck.” Tell us a little bit about that movie.
Yes. “Dumb Luck” is a short film, for now at least, based on a Canadian novel by Leslie Choyce. It’s about an 18-year-old boy who’s very awkward and socially inept. On his 18th birthday he buys a lottery ticket and ends up winning the lottery. He ends up winning $3 million.
It’s just about how he falls into this pit of money and deals with all the new people who come into his life. He deals with these new social pressures and really tries to navigate his way now that he’s the cool kid. My character kind of helps him figure out how to utilize that money. She gives him a new image and builds all these connections for him. She definitely influences him. I’m not going to say it’s in the best way though. (Laughs).
Did you read the book prior to getting the part, or after getting the part?
I haven’t read it yet, just because there was no time. Literally I got the part and a week later we were shooting, but I do want to read the book.
Where did you film “Dumb Luck?”
We filmed “Dumb Luck” in Toronto.
And what about “Full Out?” There’s some really pretty exterior scenes.
Yeah, the exteriors were filmed in San Diego and in LA. But 85-90% of the film was shot in Toronto.
Can you tell us a little bit about your collaboration with DDM Cosmetics?
Absolutely. I am so thrilled. I’m a huge makeup junkie, so when this opportunity came along I seized it. DDM Cosmetics is a Canadian brand, but it’s available online to everyone internationally. It’s all vegan and animal cruelty free, paraben free. All of that. I got to design the packaging and choose the shades and choose the name. I’m so excited for the launch. It’ll be out very, very soon.
What is your dream role?
Oh, goodness gracious. I can’t choose one role. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen. I’d love to be, and I love period pieces, so I’d love to be in an adaptation of one of her novels. Anything that allows me to completely transform. Either lose weight, gain weight, change my hair color. Just be a completely different being, I’m really into. I’m really fascinated by real character work.
You said that it’s not necessarily the type of role, but it’s the connection to a character that draws you to a part. So what drew you to Zoe?
Zoe is just such a complex and misunderstood character. On the surface, she is a bit of a diva, let’s say. But deep down at the root of it all she just wants to be loved. She just comes from a background that not many people at Degrassi can understand and comprehend. I think that’s what makes her so complex.
What was your audition process like for Zoe?
Zoe was also a pretty easy audition. I did auditions for the show two times prior, for Imogen and for Talia. I didn’t get either of those but they said that would keep an eye on me. Then I got this audition call/script that they sent out across Canada for a girl (there’s also one for boys). I read for that character. They brought me back for Zoe specifically. I did that one audition and that was it. Done.
There was a lot of waiting because they had to go to network for approvals and blah blah blah. (Laughs). But, the audition process itself was really simple.
Did you watch “Degrassi” growing up?
Not growing up, just because I’ve never really had a lot of time to watch TV, to be quite honest. I was always busy working on the dancing and the singing and this and that. I did watch season 12 religiously, and the tail end of season 11, but season 12 primarily. Yes, I did.
Speaking of singing, you had a single on the “Full Out” soundtrack. Do you have plans for an EP or LP release?
Yes, yes. “Feel So Good” was actually an exclusive for “Full Out.” It wasn’t my single, per say. I will be releasing music. I’m currently working on my EP at the moment. I’m hoping for a spring/summer 2016 release.
Do you know how many songs will be on the EP?
Between 4 and 6.
How would you describe your personal sound?
My personal sound is a dark, soulful pop. Think along the lines of the female version of The Weeknd mixed with a bit of Amy Winehouse.
Moving onto Degrassi: Next Class what is it like joining the Netflix family?
You know what? We haven’t even really gotten into it yet, just because we don’t air till January.
Is that when you guys air?
I don’t know what the actual air date is, but I think it’s, yeah. Sometime early 2016, I think. It’s just so surreal to be a Netflix original show. That’s mind-boggling. When you compare, when you look at their body of work. How are we on Netflix? (Laughs). It’s just incredible. We’re so grateful, so excited for this new chapter of “Degrassi.” I’m honored to be part of the first generation of this new branch of the franchise.
What can you tell us about Zoe’s storyline for “Next Class?” How it’s different from “Next Generation?”
“Degrassi: Next Class” as a whole, when compared to Next Generation, is a bit more explicit in language and in content in general. Being on Netflix, we do have a little more leeway when it comes to that stuff. It is more risque. It’s really getting back to the old “Degrassi,” the original “Degrassi.” Back to its roots. In terms of, let’s see, for Zoe. With this season you’re going to see her struggle to find out who she really is. You’re really going to go on a journey with her this season.
Is it the same writers or is it a new team of writers?
Most of them are the same, I believe. Yeah, our head writer’s the same, executives are the same. All the same.
Are there a bunch of new characters that get introduced?
Yes. Of course. New season, new show, new characters. You will see some new faces and they will be sure to mix things up. (Laughs).
Do you have a favorite episode that you’re looking forward to the fans seeing?
I do have a favorite episode. Unfortunately it’s the last episode of the season, so it’s going to take a while for everyone to get there. Yeah, the last episode of the season for Zoe is a big one.
Was filming for Netflix different from filming for TeenNick? Did you still do, like, 5 episodes in the same week and mix all the scenes and stuff?
Yep. The same in that sense, unfortunately. We have to go, go, go. Make sure we deliver content for everybody to see.
What have you been up to since you finished filming?
Since I finished filming, I mean, I was busy with Tiff for a bit. Now I am working on launching DDM and still writing my music. I’m actually going to London and Stockholm in 2 weeks’ time. Yeah, about 2 weeks’ time, to do some more writing and recording out there.
Since we are Talk Nerdy With Us, what are the things that you nerd out about or that make you nerdy?
This is tough. Well, film. Film, TV shows and musicals. I’m a huge nerd in terms of that stuff. Obviously. That’s why I’m in this industry. (Laughs). Also, in terms of fashion, I’m a huge geek. I adore fashion. I’m always watching all the new runway shows to see what’s trending.
2015 Tiff movie? “Demolition” with Jake Gyllenhaal.
Summer song of 2015? “I Can’t Feel My Face,” The Weeknd.
Time period? The 1950s.
Jellybean flavor? I don’t really eat jellybeans that often. Although I did play … I don’t know. Have you heard of this game called Bean Boozled? I ate a jellybean that was vomit flavored. That’s definitely not my favorite. (Laughs). I don’t really know if that narrows it down for you. It was disgusting and that was only one of them. I had such bad luck. After that, I ended up getting the dog food flavor, the rotten egg flavor, and there’s another revolting flavor. I can’t remember, but it was disgusting.
Party game? Heads Up, the Ellen DeGeneres app.
Netflix original show excluding “Next Class?” I love “Orange is the New Black.” Also love “House of Cards.” I’m going to go with “Orange is the New Black.”
“Degrassi” character, excluding Zoe? I feel my answer always changes when people ask me this question. I find Miles really fascinating. He’s just such a tortured soul, you know? I find his character really compelling and I’m excited to see where it goes.
“Degrassi” couple? Oh, I have a bunch. I was always a fan of Matlingsworth. I’m not going to lie. Maya Matlin, Miles Hollingsworth. I was also a big fan of Camaya, Cam and Maya. I definitely ship Zoemund, Zoe and Zig. Yep.
Type of makeup? Definitely anything with the eyes. I always accentuate the eyes. I’m a sucker for a good mascara. Bring some volume to the lashes, some drama.