Hamilton-born Justine Nelson is an actor and digital creator whose latest Instagram project, Mind Fudge, has just been picked up by CBC Gem. Mind Fudge portrays Justine having a series of daydreams that weave together a portrait of a young woman who is constantly searching. Season 2 is now available on CBC Gem.
We caught up with her this week.
SDTC: Describe your dream vacation scenario.
Right now I think my main getaway focus is somewhere hot next winter. I can’t stand the thought of enduring another long, dark, cold, depressing winter again, so any sort of sunshine during that time would be a dream. And if it involves easy access to a beach, that would be a delightful cherry on top.
Who/what is commanding a lot of attention in your life lately?
Jodie Comer’s face (from Killing Eve).
What have you learned about yourself in the past year?
It’s been a big year from me personally. I think overall, my biggest lesson and takeaway has been learning to be my own biggest supporter/ cheerleader. In a society that caters to self-doubt, learning to really dig yourself and believe in yourself when life presents you with tough times, good times, heartbreaking times, or even just everyday mundane boring times, can be a wonderful superpower. It’s changing the way I navigate through the world, and I still feel like I’ve only just begun.
What is a fun little-known fact about you?
I’m really good at Tech Decks. I would religiously practice as a kid, thinking one day it would be so cool and important to have in my back pocket. I’ve yet to be asked to utilize this skill in my adult life.
What book/film/show have you connected with recently, and what about it appeals to you?
Fleabag, Fleabag, Fleabag. Fleabag has changed my standards as an audience member and as a filmmaker. The utter truth and honesty that show oozes is extraordinary. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is fearless. To see a female character like that on screen has touched and changed so many of us. She’s real, she’s raw, she’s sexy, she’s messy. The show both gave me chills and made me cry with laughter. The way she uses breaking the fourth wall not only as the quirky eye-catching “bit” of the show, but having it evolve for a way for us to get to know the character and as a smart and unique look at mental health and escapism. I could go on forever. So yes, Fleabag.
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To have a back-up plan. I do understand that people aren’t being vindictive when they say that; they just want safety and security. It doesn’t work for me. A back-up plan would instil in me that I don’t fully believe I can achieve my goals, and that’s simply not true. I’m going full speed ahead in one direction with blinders on.
What is your motto at the moment?
Taking time to be alone is a huge strength and not a weakness. Being able to endure sitting in the sit and bringing yourself out of it and not using distractions or other people to help. To find yourself and your strength in the quiet.
Any plans for the summer?
This is the first summer where I don’t have a waitressing job. So right now my summer plans are to explore the open space that gives me. I plan on working on more creative projects now that I have the time and I also plan on frequenting the Toronto Islands like it’s my new day job.
What are the qualities you like least and most about your parents?
My least favourite quality about my mum is how far way she parks the car from whatever store or restaurant we are going to. Without fail she will manage to fine the farthest spot, rain or shine.
Now my favourite. I’ve been blessed with the most supportive mother possible. It’s not lost on me how unbelievably fortunate I am to have my mother’s unwavering support in all aspects of my life. She’s my biggest fan and has made me feel so loved and supported throughout my life and has given me the freedom to explore whatever I am passionate about. All while cheering me on from the sidelines.
Rewind five years. What advice would you give yourself?
Stop straightening your hair. It takes way too long and as it turns out, your natural wave is kinda cool. And way less work. Relax more. Things are going to work out as they are supposed to. Whatever is going on in your world, its not the be all, end all. There is still so much more to come, good, yucky, exciting, and you get through it all.
What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
I am going to go the career route with this one. A moment that I felt the most vulnerable and scared was when I signed to my current agent. I knew he was the agent I wanted. I had wanted to audition for him for years and had built it up in my mind, but when the opportunity finally came, I knew I had to show up and push through the fear. I didn’t want any fear or nerves to dictate any of my actions. I wanted to fully show myself. And I succeeded. It’s one of the moments I feel the most proud of.
What childhood memory makes you laugh out loud?
Any and all moments with my best friend, Rashida. We have been friends since we were twelve years old. There is never a dull moment with her. From getting in trouble for laughing in drama class to still playing make believe as twenty-seven-year-old women.
What unnecessary object would you love to own?
What tip, technique or hack has made your life better in the past year?
Learning to cook a few more dishes than just scrambled eggs. It’s wild what a difference that makes; it’s crazy convenient. Who knew?
What issue do you wish people took more seriously?
There are many, but something that’s been on my mind lately is the link between anxiety and cell phone use. How it’s becoming harder and harder to “unplug.” Whether it’s to respond to an email, check the time or to fill the boredom void, it’s becoming so hard to be an active member of society and leave our phones behind. We are never fully alone when we are tethered to our devices. I think we have become so accustom to this base level of anxiety that comes with even just having our phones near. Who’s texting me? Who isn’t texting me? Do I have new notifications? I think allowing yourself to leave your phone behind or put it away for at least a few hours a day is a wonderful act of self-care that should be encouraged.
What outfit makes you feel the most you?
My old vintage Levis without a doubt.
Who/what has surprised you lately, and how?
The power of friendship.
When you look back on your life, are you at where you thought you’d be by now? Why or why not?
Honestly, probably not. I think my childhood self would have expected me to have won an Oscar by now, but I didn’t understand what a long, hard journey this career choice was; however, I am working in the field I love, so also yes, I am where I thought I would be.