Julia Chan

We both lived in Bed Stuy in 2008, and used to hang out at one another’s apartments. We quickly became close friends. Julia was heading into the actor’s life, and I was working for Rag & Bone. We both moved a bunch, got married, had kids. And we’re both in some sense living the dreams we’d had for ourselves 15 years ago. I caught up with Julia at our store in Nolita and talked to her about London, becoming a mom during the pandemic, and her new series Archive 81, launching next week on Netflix.

Photography: Lauren Bucquet


You were recently working in a theater production in London for a couple months - can you tell me a little about what it was like acting for a live audience like that every day?

It had always been a dream of mine to do a play on the West End, so I can't say enough about how much it meant to me to get this chance. It was both the most rewarding while at the same time the most challenging experience of my career. I felt like an athlete. The audience was like an organism that shifted each night, which was so invigorating and kept me on my toes. And each night, while of course retaining the consistency of the play, we found new moments together as a cast. I would enter at the top of the play through a dappled glass door and bounce up and down before opening the door like a crazy slalom skier or something. It was 88 nights of wild. 


Has becoming a mom changed your outlook on work, or having work/life balance?

I actually think Henry has made me more courageous - less precious - to put it another way. I went back to work when he was 13 weeks old, away from home in the depths of COVID. It was really scary at first to be out in the world again on a set of a hundred plus people. I found it terrifying being home with a brand new baby let alone with all the other madness of the pandemic. My partner encouraged me to start auditioning, again and that was a gift. Bringing work back into my new life as a mum and incorporating it right away was so important to me and to my confidence. Not everyone wants to do it that way, but I am glad I did. And I think it makes a pretty cool story for Henry later, that we went on the road together in the midst of a pandemic. We did it again right after that show to London. 


What can you tell us about your upcoming show Archive 81?

Archive 81 is a found footage horror / thriller in 8 episodes that is based on a podcast of the same name. The cast is so interesting and dynamic and we are really proud of what we pulled off, especially under the circumstances in which we were shooting, in a sea of face shields and sanitizer, to say the least. It takes place in the 90s and the present day, and the costumes are great. 90s is technically a period show, so that was so much fun, and many pairs of Labucqs make their appearance! 


Did you ever get scared on set while acting?

I couldn’t even read the script at night, it unsettled me so much, I will say that. The show is very effective and affecting and the sets were very realistic and eery. I don’t usually get scared when the camera is rolling, though. There’s so much going on behind the camera. But I don’t recommend strolling the empty set on your break! Or I do, if you’re not a wimp like me. 


Was there a point in your life where you made a decision to fully pursue acting? Was it something you’ve always wanted to do? Or was it a more casual pursuit that became serious at some point?

I always wanted to be an actor it was clear as day. The periods in between jobs, and those can last a long time, are challenging on the soul, though. Still worth it! For a while I tried to convince myself to do something more responsible but I just couldn’t resist doing this. And I have been very lucky.  


Are you happy living back in NYC after your stints in LA and London? Will you stay there long term?

My family and I have made New York home, but we love London, too and the UK is where I am from. I have been living in New York way over a decade with an LA stint in there, and she still thrills me every single day. However I think making a move home to the UK eventually is in the cards, but not for a while...

Julia is wearing Kitty Emerald Crocco