The model-to-actress move is a common one, which Juana Burga knows.
“I think it’s a typical story: I got discovered and then it was kind of making the decision if I wanted to start doing something different from what I used to do,” Burga says.
She’s just flown into New York from Los Angeles, and though dressed in an Alaïa jacket and Chanel heels, she looks far from jet lagged. The 26-year-old Peruvian has been working as a model since 2007, when she won an Elite modeling competition in Lima, Peru, and has walked runways for the likes of Rodarte, Vivienne Westwood and Tory Burch. She’s now ready to make it as an actress, though, with her first big role in “Los Ultimos,” translated in English to “The Unseen,” which premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018.
“I think it was basically the things that excite my life, to have challenges in my life; the first one was modeling, and making that transition right now and realizing that I have a newer challenge, and that everyday is a constant challenge in your life — it’s beautiful. I’m really excited to experience these things.”
The crossover between the modeling and acting is a solid foundation, she says, but she feels in many ways that she is starting from scratch.
“It’s a completely different thing — a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characters, but film is a completely different story,” she explains.
“For me, Juana represents the traditional beauty of a Peruvian woman,” says Mario Testino. “Elegant, upbeat and sunny — a girl from the Peruvian coast with amazing joie de vivre.”
Burga’s idols include actresses such as Susan Sarandon and Julianne Moore, whom she has watched since childhood. “My mom loved these actresses and when I was little, seeing all these movies, it was very beautiful,” she says.
The film is a dramatic story of a young Latin couple who seek a better life from the refugee camp they live in upon learning they are expecting a baby. Burga says that yes, drama is an interest, but she’s hoping to have the chance to show off her range.
“I am very interested in showing people what I’m capable of; people would never expect to see me playing this role, because it’s such a hard role and [she is] very strong and is living in this apocalyptic conditions, and for me, living in New York and having access to everything…it was very interesting,” she says. “But I also want to play comedy — I’m very versatile. I would love to do drama, thriller…well, maybe not too thriller — but something exciting.”
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