Director's Cut: A Conversation With Emilija Baranac of "To All The Boys I've Loved Before"
Emilija Baranac, a Vancouver-based actress with an ethereal sense of style, is also known as Genevieve in the romantic coming-of-age movie, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. We spoke to the breakout actress to hear more about her rising career in the film and television industry, her new-found love for photography, and her dreamy personal style.
Photography by Issey Lamb.
Thanks so much for chatting with me! For those unfamiliar, could you please introduce yourself to our readers, and tell us about your role on the charming, coming-of-age Netflix film, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before?
Thank you for having me on Heroine! I'm Emilija Baranac and I play Genevieve in To All The Boys I've Loved Before. Gen is the popular girl at her high school and makes Lara Jean's life a living hell. Gen used to date Peter Kavinsky so when he starts to date Lara Jean it makes Gen considerably jealous. However, I consider Gen to be greatly misunderstood. Similar to most people, Gen is dealing with a lot of personal turmoil and it has translated in to trust issues and she finds it increasingly difficult to confide in others. Although Gen could not be further from who I am in my personal life, I really enjoyed portraying her in the film. I especially appreciated that the film humanized Gen, as opposed to making her completely evil. I believe there is value in considering an antagonist's motive and I am glad that the film shed light on Gen's.
The film showcased a star-studded cast including yourself, Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, and Janel Parrish, what were some of your most memorable experiences with your co-stars on set?
Everyone was so lovely to work with and we all instantly clicked which made the whole experience especially rewarding. It was either my last day on set or the last day of production, I can't remember now, but it was also my birthday and I remember Lana wishing me a happy birthday the second I walked into the makeup trailer which was so sweet! Later that day, right before we were about to film one of the party scenes, I heard from behind me, "Happy Birthday to you!" I turned around to see Lana, Madeline, and Anna carrying cupcakes for me while everyone on set was singing along. It was very unexpected but it really warmed my heart.
The press has been so positive and has even described the film as “the deeply sweet Netflix rom-com that has conquered hearts across the internet since its premiere” When you initially read for your character, Genevieve, were you anticipating this reaction and success?
To be quite honest, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that Jenny Han's books were popular and my friends who had read her work were incredibly excited for the movie. After my first day on set, I immediately knew I was a part of something very special—I just never expected it to be so well-received as it has been! I am extremely grateful to have been a part of it.
Many have said the wardrobe-styling was reminiscent of 90’s trends. Whether it was plaid skirts, satin dresses or the black chokers we saw you sport in the film, many outfits felt like an homage to classics like The Breakfast Club and Clueless. What are some of your favorite go-to pieces in your closet?
I often find myself gravitating towards denim sections in stores, although I must admit I have far too many jeans to begin with but hey, you can never have too many jeans am I right? The same goes for chunky sweaters, anything with big, baggy sleeves is my jam. Lately, I've been sporting a pair of baggy jeans that somewhat have a 90s feel to them. I find it quite difficult to find the right fit so I typically have to go 2 sizes up to achieve the look.
How would you describe your personal style?
I'd say it's fairly mood dependent. Sometimes I'll wake up feeling like I want to dress chic, sometimes I want to hide from the world in an oversized hoodie. I like juxtaposing styles/shapes and textures, so I'll wear really baggy corduroy pants with some chunky thick soled docs and pair them with a soft and elegant blouse. I enjoy being playful with proportions and patterns to create my outfits.
What is your dream grail?
That's a difficult one as I feel like my style is constantly changing. If I had to choose though I guess I'd love anything from Rei Kawakubo's closet.
In addition to To All The Boys I've Loved Before, you’ve also starred as “Midge Klump” on the hit series Riverdale—how was your experience bringing an iconic comic book character to life, in a modernized way?
I always wanted to portray a comic book character so it was a dream come true. It was a great learning experience and it was exciting to learn who Midge was in the comics and translating that to the world of Riverdale. At times it was challenging but it was rewarding. Gotta love that wig.
Your presence on screen also translates offline, and your Instagram often portrays you behind camera capturing moments in your everyday life. How did you get into photography?
I have always loved taking photos of anything that inspires me—my friends, architecture, nature, clothes, etc. I started taking photos on my phone and slowly transitioned to film photography and then I finally bought a digital camera. I recently took a photography class and it made me appreciate the art form even more.
Vancouver has been a well-known city in the entertainment industry and it’s really amazing to see emerging talent represented on screen. Has the city provided you with opportunities or influence within your career?
Definitely. We are quite fortunate in Vancouver with all the opportunities that come through the city. I find the city to be full of creative individuals who are willing to collaborate and it has allowed me to expand my creative endeavours. Whether it's photography or modeling, I believe it's really rewarding to learn from others. The acting community is fairly tightknit within Vancouver as well, so there have been various opportunities that have presented themselves by word of mouth.
What are some of your favorite shops and sights in the city?
Lately, I've been doing a lot of consignment shopping. I think Vancouver has a great selection of stores to find second-hand gems, but also consignment stores are great for clearing out your own closet which I've been trying to do. I enjoy going for walks along Main St., there are a lot of hidden areas that are so beautiful when the leaves turn in the fall.
Thanks so much for your time, Emilija! Lastly, are there any upcoming exciting projects that you have in-flight?
I've been working on some exciting things and I'm looking forward to their releases.