Paula Brancanti, Television Actor/Host

Paula Brancanti who stars on Being Erica, hosts The Vagina Monologues for V-Day to raise awareness and money for the global movement to stop violence against women and girls. We ask her about her acting career and as well as her volunteer work on this special production.

Support the worthy cause and check out show times here: http://www.vdaytoronto.com

Why did you decide to get involved in hosting the Vagina Monologues?
I had been hearing about the Vagina Monologues for years and always been curious about it. I was very excited to get involved with a show that empowers and celebrates women all over the world, and is ultimately for an extremely important cause. This year’s campaign focuses on the women of the Democratic Republic of Congo and bettering their often, horrific treatment. 

This is a production that re-occurs often throughout the calendar year in most North American cities, why is it valuable and what do women take away from it?
The Vagina Monologues is a very special show. It has the ability to make you blush, laugh, cry, smile knowingly, reminisce and reflect. It can make you uncomfortable, feel grateful, feel comforted in knowing our fears are universal, all while experiencing a sense of wonder, pride, and admiration for women and the complexity and beauty of their minds and bodies.  

What do you love most about Being Erica?
It is very exciting to be a part of such a unique series and one that showcases the city of Toronto in every episode. One of my favourite things about Being Erica is Erica herself. It’s so refreshing to see a strong female character that is flawed, complex, and relatable at the forefront of a series. This has a large deal to do with the fabulous Erin Karpluk who explores every moment and nuance with sincerity and likeability.  

What have you learned about yourself since being cast on the show?
I love playing “Jenny” on Being Erica. It’s always interesting reflecting on how a show or character has changed or affected you… One of the biggest challenges for me has been flipping between her 15 year old and 32 year old self (I am 20). In a storyline from last season, Erica learns that Jenny had reasons for bullying a classmate of theirs throughout high school. Jenny had actually been having an affair with a teacher and feels completely heartbroken and betrayed when he ends things with her and begins flirting with her enemy. In working on this story, I began reflecting on “bullies” in high school and realized that everyone really does have a story. There isn’t one negative action that doesn’t have a back story and there are often reasons why people are hurtful. It’s very cool when developing a character can get you thinking about people and moments in your life in a completely new light. 

What would you like your career to look like five years from now?
5 years from now, I’d love to have a career that encompasses different aspects of the arts. I hope to be working on films and taking on roles that challenge and excite me while also beginning production on a television series that I have creative control over. I would like to be on the writing/ directing end of the spectrum as well. It’s also been a lifelong dream of mine to perform in a musical on Broadway. If in 5 years I could be opening a brand new musical on Broadway, I would be thrilled!   

What are the 3 skills you require most to do your job well?
Perseverance
Passion
Curiosity

What do you love most about your career?
I am very grateful for all the wonderful people I have met throughout my career. I find myself constantly inspired and growing thanks to them. I have also met some of my closest friends in this business and it’s amazing to be able to work with people you love being around and respect personally and professionally. Another aspect I truly love is being able to play characters that really speak to young people. On Degrassi, my character Jane has had some extremely dark storylines. (Fighting to be the only female football player on the school team and being physically punished for it, recalling memories of her father sexually abusing her as a child, coping with her boyfriend being diagnosed with cancer.) The response that we receive from viewers is astounding… It breaks my heart that there are many people who can relate to these stories, but I am also so honoured to be a part of a show that is not only entertainment, but a source of comfort and hope for young people. I would love to continue to work on similar projects that portray truthful scenarios and have a strong voice for youth. 

Do you have any warnings?

My family has always been an incredible reminder of staying grounded and true to myself. It is easy to get caught up in the often, hectic nature of the entertainment business, so I am glad that I have positive people surrounding me to keep things in perspective.  

If you could try a different career on for a year, what would it be?
Hmmm… perhaps I could combine my love of food with travel and become a food connoisseur, visiting restaurants across Europe while writing a column about my adventures (a la Carrie Bradshaw).

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