Just the other day, Joy Sunday was out at a restaurant in New York when someone stopped her and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, have you ever been told that you look like Joy Sunday?” It’s only been a few weeks since her first TV show dropped, but given that show is “Wednesday,” the Netflix hit from Tim Burton, it’s somehow expected she’d be recognized out and about.
Still, the Staten Island, New York, native is in a bit of shock from it all.
“I certainly didn’t forecast that it would happen,” Sunday says over the phone from her childhood home. “It’s just wild to go from an actor in the trenches fighting to get seen and now I’m seen everywhere and there’s so many eyes.”
Sunday is one of the breakout new faces on the show, starring as Bianca Barclay, the “mean girl” of Nevermore and an early nemesis of Wednesday’s. Playing a villain was exactly what drew Sunday to Bianca.
“I really loved the fact that I was getting this audition to do this mean girl character. There are not really that many examples of Black mean girl characters and I thought it was an opportunity to really soften and expand on something I’m very familiar with to a lot of audiences,” Sunday explains. “Her being a siren is something I feel I can connect with very deeply because I find my power through words. And I related to Bianca feeling that could be a trap as well. Bianca was close to my heart from the start for those reasons.”
The 27-year-old didn’t even know initially that the audition was for a Tim Burton project, only receiving a five-minute voice memo from her manager telling her to watch out for an email regarding a secret project. When the email landed, it had a code name for the project, along with Burton’s name.
“So I put everything to the side and put my all into doing the audition,” she says. “And that’s how I ended up here today.”
She worked closely with the show’s costume designer Colleen Atwood on Bianca’s prep school-with-a-twist look.
“I had mentioned that essentially as soon as I booked the part, I had sat down and made a look book for Bianca of what she would wear, but also people that she would look up to and places that she would want to go and such and such,” Sunday says.
She’s hoping to ride the success of “Wednesday” into creating her own projects and has returned her attention to writing.
“I’ve really been recently validated and I used to be a much more voracious writer and I’m so excited to be working on projects with friends,” she says. “I’m just excited to get my stories out there and to see them through. I’ve had a lot of imposter syndrome about them for years and so it’d be really full circle for all of my dreams to come true.”