Anna Akana has cemented herself in the industry as a jack-of-all-trades. She is an actress, filmmaker, singer, musician, author, and comedian, so you really have no excuse not to know who she is. For those of us who do know her, many of us were first introduced to her through her YouTube channel, where we got to see her creative vision flourish with the production of her own short videos like Miss Earth. As her star has risen, many have been able to get to know her in projects like the web series “Youth & Consequences”, the Comedy Central show “Corporate”, and – now – in the role as Julie in the latest installment of Blumhouse and Hulu’s Into the Dark series – MY VALENTINE.
For the release of the film, we had an opportunity to chat with Anna Akana where we discussed everything from what initially drew her to the role of Julie, the supportive friend of Valentine, to the subject matter of abusive and toxicity in the entertainment industry, and the tastiness factor of some of the practical effects featured in MY VALENTINE.
In MY VALENTINE, you play Julie, the supportive friend of Valentine while she’s reconciling with the aftermath that is Royal. What was it about the character that attracted you to the role?
Anna Akana: I relate to Julie’s fierce protectiveness of those she loves, her loyalty, and her ability to stick with people even it’s difficult. The nature of the project is something very personal to me – having been in an abusive relationship with a man who took some of my professional work and made it his own. It felt important to be a part of something that went beyond the thriller/horror genre to shed light on some of the real nightmares we go through in reality.
There is a lot to digest in MY VALENTINE. The film tackles the entertainment industry, toxic fandom, co-dependency, toxic relationships; the list can go on and on. And the topics are incredibly potent and relevant for I think, a lot of people, especially in the era of #MeToo. When you did an initial read-through of the script, what were your thoughts? Because things get super heavy in this film.
Anna Akana: My initial thoughts were on the abusers I have known personally particularly Max Landis, a serial rapist and abuser that was outed in 2017. Though a lot of abuse cases have such unfortunate similar symptoms (gaslighting, emotional/verbal abuse, codependency, manipulation), Max stands out to me as someone who had as much charisma as he did malice, which parallels Royal. And of course, my personal connection to that #MeToo moment made this script feel that much more important for me to be a part of.
How was it working with the rest of the cast as well as director and writer Maggie Levin?
Anna Akana: Maggie is a dream to work with. Though this isn’t our first collaboration (Miss 2059 Season 2, Pretty Girls Don’t Cry, Alone Together, Take Your Birth Control), I was honored to be a part of her biggest one to date. Maggie’s been long overdue for her directorial debut and I cannot wait to see what other glitter nightmares she dreams up.
There seemed to be quite a few practical effects as well as some quick shots away from the violence and havoc inflicted onscreen. What was your experience like dealing with some of those effects?
Anna Akana: The blood tasted like mint chocolate, so I was quite pleased.
Lastly, what do you want people to take away from this film? Especially given Julie’s arc?
Anna Akana: I hope that victims of abuse, both men and women, feel seen by this film. I hope they feel inspired. I hope they know that they can take back their voices, their strength, and come out on the other end of the nightmare okay.
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