Saturday, December 13, 2014

Satan's Doll: Andrea Werhun

One of my favourite films from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was The Editor, a fun feature that lovingly pays homage to Giallo (a bloody sub-genre of 70‘s Italian crime-thrillers). Interestingly, at the recent Toronto After Dark Film Festival, there was another Canadian film that paid tribute to the risqué genre: Satan’s Dolls, directed by Carlo Schefter. The film was well-received and soon will be making the rounds at other festivals.

In Satan’s Dolls, Toronto-native, Andrea Werhun (25) plays a femme-fatale who’s not afraid to stab or shoot her way out of a sticky situation. I visited Werhun at the Fertile Ground Farm in St. Agatha (just outside of Kitchener-Waterloo) to talk about the film and more.

TorontoVerve: What was your first experience like at Toronto After Dark? 

Andrea Werhun: It was awesome. The crowd was so supportive and laughed at all the silliness of the film. It was a fantastic experience. I didn’t feel nervous at all. 

TV: Tell us about Satan’s Dolls and your character. 

AW: It’s a Giallo-inspired short film about a lesbian nunnery. It’s a crazy sensory experience. The director, Carlo Schefter, casted me as Suzy, a mobster queen who secretly worships the devil. I get to kill people and make out with a nun and priest (laughs). 

TV: So what were your feelings about the film after you saw it? 

AW: I was in love. I laughed the entire time. It turned out so beautifully. The music was right on point. The editing was amazing. I’m very proud of this 20 minute film.

TV: What’s it like watching yourself on the big screen? 

AW: It’s surreal. I’ve seen myself on a big-screen before (Advocate) and the first time was a shock. Seeing myself the second time was an enjoyable experience. I felt like I was part of the audience, watching it for the very first time. My ass looked so big on screen. It was awesome.

TV: Have your folks seen the movie? 

AW: Yeah, they really enjoyed it. I warned them about seeing my naked butt and told them to cover their eyes during that scene (laughs).


TV: You’ve worked with Second City. What was that like? 

AW: I’ve taken improv classes there and have been involved with a few troupes. I haven’t done any improv since I’ve been living on the farm, but I’m definitely considering doing more when I get back to Toronto.

TV: What’s it like doing improv in front of an audience? 

AW: It can be completely nerve-racking or the most magical experience. It’s incredible to be totally devoted to a character that has spontaneously come out of you. When it works, it’s not only magical to be a part of, it’s also magical to see it as an audience member. Of course bad improv is the opposite of magical and terrible to watch.

TV: So you were telling me that you’re trying to have as little presence as possible on the internet. Why is that? 

AW: Yes, it’s just that when I came to the farm I realized that I was on Facebook way too much. I was senselessly developing jealousies. I was upset that everything was happening away from here. I eventually learned that I needed to be focussed on where I was. I was also getting frustrated with people who were lurking -- people who value looking at your online profile instead of personally interacting with you. I didn’t want my life to be lurked. I guess it was also a test to see who my real friends were.

TV: How do you plan to build your acting career while remaining faithful to that commitment? 

AW: I plan to build my acting career on my ability to act. I don’t think interacting with people through social media would make me a better actor. I also don’t think it’s good for my mental health to be constantly promoting myself online. I would rather focus on being a good artist.

TV: Why have you chosen to live on a farm since the beginning of summer? 

AW: Because my boyfriend is the field manager here. I also had practical reasons: I wanted to discipline myself by working hard and sticking to a routine. I wake up very early every day to harvest loads of vegetables for 9 hours. I also wanted a better relationship with nature because I lived my whole life in the city. Here, I’ve had the opportunity to experience giant skies, old trees and lovely trails. I have the freedom and space to do whatever I want and it’s incredible to see what darkness really looks like when there are no lights around. I’m pleased that I was able to easily adapt to this different lifestyle. I think that’s an important skill to have when you’re an actor -- to be able to adapt to any given role. Now I can adapt to the role of a hard working farm intern and do it without complaining. As an actress, I make it my main priority to live my life to the fullest so when it comes time to playing roles, I have many life experiences that I can draw upon.

TV: TorontoVerve is a street style blog so I'm obligated to ask: how would you describe your fashion? 

AW: Ninety-five percent of my wardrobe is secondhand. I love the quality and workmanship of vintage fabric. I think that there are too many new pieces of clothing. If you want H&M or Joe Fresh, just go to Goodwill. They have their whole collection there.

TV: So what are you working on next? 

AW: My Satan Dolls’ cast mate, Nicole Bazuin, and I are developing a comic book together called "Modern Whore". It examines sex work in a larger cultural context and how people of all backgrounds relate to whores. Unfortunately, prostitutes are humanity’s dumpster. Nicole and I believe that there are female, male and trans sex workers who deserve love and affection just like everyone else. It’s an issue that I hold very close to my heart. I’m writing the stories and Nicole is illustrating them.

TV: How will you be humanizing sex workers in your comic book? 

AW: With first-person accounts. I’ve done much research and interviews with people in the sex trade. I think the reason people can’t relate to sex workers is because they don’t know their stories. They don’t know how similar their lives and experiences are.

TV: What have you discovered is the most common reason for someone to turn to a life of prostitution?  
AW: It’s flexible work. It obviously pays a lot of money, and believe it or not, it can be quite fulfilling, which is what we want to explore in our comic. It also parallels much work in the service industry. Anyone who has ever been a waitress or barista can probably relate to many of their experiences. There are also some poor people who have no choice but to enter the sex trade to survive, and I don’t think it’s right to chastise them simply because prostitution was their last resort. There’s nothing inherently wrong with prostitution. What’s wrong is poverty and not giving opportunities to people who are at their very bottom.

TV: You’re obviously very passionate about it. 

AW: Yes, I’m also quite interested in the politics of women and sexuality. Sexuality is a commodity. As an actress, I don’t feel that I’m doing anything all that different. I feel like I’m selling my sexuality in my roles all the time and I don’t have a problem with that because I like my sexuality. Often women are oppressed or shamed for expressing their sexuality. That’s why I’m open to nudity in film because I don’t want anyone to hold my body hostage and make me feel ashamed of who I am.

TV: Will you be collaborating with Carlo again anytime soon? 

AW: Yes, he casted me in his new music video, "Blood Royale". I play a stripper and murderer (laughs).

TV: You appear to be Carlo’s go-to-person for those deadly characters. 

AW: I am (laughs) and I’m totally cool with that. I love playing badass characters, but at some point, I’d like to play a nice girl. I think I’m fully capable of doing that too.

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Visit Andrea Werhun's website.

Check out the Satan's Dolls teaser below:

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