This is the story of Emilija Baranac. Actress, psychology student, all-around lovely and gracious human. She can be seen in the hit TV show Riverdale's upcoming Season 2, and on CW's Beyond and Supernatural.
"As a child I was really outgoing and always the life of the party. Once I started elementary school I became very shy because, even though I was born in Canada, my first language was Serbian. I had a really hard time communicating with others to the point where I remember it felt like people were talking gibberish to me! It really took a toll on my self-esteem. So, as a way to get me out of my shell, my parents enrolled me in some acting classes for kids and I ended up taking a liking to it. I continued taking classes and got my first agent when I was 9 years old. Growing up was pretty tough for me as I never felt like I fit in at school and I always felt like an outsider. Once I started acting, however, I felt free to express myself and explore new characters. I’ve been in love with acting ever since.
I would say there has been a surge in representation of strong female characters in tv shows and movies, for example, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jessica Jones, Rey (Star Wars), which makes me feel empowered as a female. I think it’s fantastic that people are starting to take notice that females need a voice and we need to fight against the notion that women are just love interests for leading males. However, it’s still astounding how repressed female representation is. Anyone that has ever attempted to search for a monologue or scene that depicts a strong female would know how incredibly difficult that is. This really upsets me. I want to see more females like Ellen Ripley from Alien (1979) - she is a bad ass, strong leading female who kicks some major ass!
Of course there are days where I feel useless and lazy. One of my favourite things to do is to tuck into bed and watch YouTube videos or a movie or TV show and just zone out. However, when I’m hustling for something I love, like an audition for example, I absolutely love it. I almost always stressed and complain about how much work I have to do but honestly I love the process so much and am always so grateful to be doing something I love - even if it’s just auditions. That said, on the days where a person feels burnt out from work, I think it’s important to remember to take some time for yourself. If I’m struggling to get work done I usually take a break and indulge in something I love. For example, I am a major coffee lover so nothing makes me happier then a nice cup of coffee. Sometimes I even like to just call up a friend and clear my mind over the phone. It’s pretty easy to lose human contact if you’re stuck at home for work or glued to your computer, so a little phone conversation can really brighten your day. These things usually leave me feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work.
I don’t know if this is considered a talent or a hobby, but in addition to acting I am also a psychology student at university. I took an interest for it after a psychology class in high school and figured it could be an excellent field to invest time in to improve my acting. Indeed I am finding connections between psychology and acting which is so exciting for me as I can incorporate what I learn from my psychology courses towards my acting work for a character. For example, as I learn more about why humans are the way that they are, I am learning more about myself as an individual which subsequently can be applied to my ability to tap into a different character. It’s very exciting and I hope to one day figure out how to combine both my love for psychology and acting into one profession. When I’m not acting, I’m probably on Instagram or Tumblr searching for fashion and lifestyle inspiration. You can also catch me playing some Beatles songs on the piano, most definitely singing the opening songs to my favourite TV shows loud and proud, and, if no one is home, you can bet your butt I am having a dance party for one to my favourite throwback jams of the 80s.
My mom is my inspiration, 100%. She is one of the most resilient individuals I have ever known. Considering everything she has gone through in her life, it is really inspiring to consistently watch her pick herself up and keep carrying on through life. She has taught me patience, compassion, and how to love and appreciate the people in my life. She also inspires me to go out into the world and make things happen for myself and most importantly to do the things that make me happy. My parents packed all their things and moved to a different country almost 23 years ago. I would say my mom is incredibly strong and brave so I can only hope to be as strong as she is.
I would have to say my favourite accomplishment is when I decided to follow my heart and seriously pursue acting as a career. Of course, as I was growing up, I always loved acting and dreamed of being a successful actor. However, I never worked nearly as hard enough for it as I should have. I always figured my big break would naturally fall into my lap and my career would take off. But mostly it was my fear and self-doubt that held me back. I was really scared to be myself and often blamed my lack of success on others. I started taking acting classes which completely changed and improved not only my acting skills but also my attitude towards life. I was challenged to face myself—all my flaws, insecurities, fears, what made my heart sing, what made my heart black, and everything in between. These were things I never wanted to deal with. But once you understand why you are the way that you are, you immediately open yourself up to the world because you learn to accept all your negative and positive characteristics. Subsequently, I found myself reignited with a tenacious passion for the work that goes with being an actor and an open mindset to the endless possibilities that could be thrown my way. In that sense, I feel I have emotionally matured which is one of my greatest accomplishments. Of course, I still feel insecure and struggle with certain obstacles that are thrown my way but I feel I am better able to deal with them. This has allowed me to dive head first into my love for acting."
- Emilija Baranac