A Vernon high school grad turned Hollywood actress is hoping to send her father a birthday serenade from the City of Angels.
All she needs is some local artists or singers to hire ahead of the big day on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
Dominika Juillet, a former Vernon Secondary School grad, is now living in Venice Beach, Calif., where she’s steadily worked as an actress alongside stars including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Alba, Mischa Barton and Charlie Sheen. In 2003, she was given her own CBC mini-series, “Under the Cover,” which was chosen out of 1,400 pilots and won her a national award.
She says she was dragged into her first film by A-list actress and “Hollywood royalty” Rosanna Arquette, who was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and starred next to Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, among many other roles.
“I didn’t know who she was,” Juillet said of Arquette when they met on the set of Poison Ivy (1992) while she herself was still a student at the University of Victoria. “But apparently she said to the director, ‘you have to put this girl in the movie.’ And I was like OK!”
“They had to write in a small part for me, which now that I know that I’m like wow, that is so incredibly generous and cool of her,” Juillet added.
Writing her series for CBC was how Juillet first got her work visa to live in the U.S. She was shooting a film in Montana when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“Everyone was saying they’re going to want to know what I’m working on on my way back across the border, which might make it tricky for re-entry,” she explained. “So my parents at the time were like, Vernon is full of snow there’s literally nothing for you to do here, we don’t know if you’re going to be able to make a living here.”
L.A. is unsurprisingly a better job market for an actress even in a pandemic, and Juillet has been able to find work doing commercials since March.
However, that means her father will be celebrating his 70th birthday and retirement in Vernon without her this year. In order to celebrate his milestone from afar, she’s looking to hire a local artist or small group of artists to sing him a song while social distancing outside his residence.
“As an artist, I love the idea of supporting other artists,” she said. “I think for all of us who are artists right now, the pandemic makes you feel incredibly useless. I look at doctors and nurses and I know the arts have an important place, but it’s just very hard to feel like you’re as much of a contribution.”
She explains her boyfriend’s father passed away and his mother is living at home, which has made her all the more aware of how isolated seniors may be during the pandemic. She also hopes her ‘artists for hire’ idea catches on during this pandemic holiday season.
“Anyone who is living by themselves is probably struggling quite hard,” she said. “This would be an amazing business and a really good-hearted gesture of human kindness that would benefit the artists singing because they get to do what they love, and also bring smiles to these people who are isolating at home.”
Juillet says her father enjoys Luciano Pavarotti, Harry Belafonte and “anything from the Paul Simon ‘Graceland’ album.”
Any local artists or singers interested in treating Juillet’s father to a birthday performance on Dec. 15 can contact the Vernon Morning Star at email@example.com.