“[Iris] is kind of an enigma,” Julia Goldani Telles starts, “so getting to figure her out was cool because she’s extremely secretive and guarded — but still waters run deep.” A 26-year-old actress and ballet dancer who grew up across Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro and New York City, Telles stars as the highly intelligent and mysterious Iris in the newest season of The Girlfriend Experience, executive produced by Steven Soderbergh and written/directed by Anja Marquardt.
With an impressive repertoire of credits to her name, Telles’ ballet experience adds another incredible layer to her work as a creative. Known for her roles as Whitney Solloway in The Affair and as Sasha Torres in Bunheads — a show that allowed her to incorporate her dancing background with acting — Telles now delivers a compelling and stunning performance as Iris.
On the origins of what drew her to the craft in the first place, Telles notes, “I just like learning about other people’s stories, and getting to rehearse and shoot a show like this really connects you with other people — which is ironic because this character is so disconnected.”
In the series, Iris embarks on a risky project, testing the ultimate question that has been at the heart of documentaries, dystopian novels and ethics debates: is technology dangerous? “The new season is really about the intersection between tech and desire,” Telles shares. “It follows my character, Iris, on her journey to meld her job at a tech start-up in London with her job as an escort. She puts herself at the centre of an arguably unethical secretive experiment to try to understand human behaviour and, ultimately, change the future of tech.”
Without revealing details or risking spoilers, the new season definitely pushes boundaries, allowing Iris’ story to develop and complicate as it explores the science and motivations behind relationships. However, the one thing that remains constant throughout this series is Iris’ unwavering determination.
“I love how she embodied characteristics that are usually attributed to men onscreen,” Telles says of Iris and what drew her to the role. “We weren’t worried about making her likable. We just wanted to make her ambitious and flawed.” When preparing to portray Iris, Telles engaged in a fair amount of research, a fact that comes across while watching her thrilling and believable performance. “I got to learn a lot about neuroscience,” she recalls, “take some really interesting master classes and talk to people about their real life experiences in the tech world and the transactional world of the girlfriend experience — the profession, not the show.”
When asked about her favourite part of filming a new show or film, Telles answers, “Getting to travel. Getting to bring my dog. Finding local coffee shops that help me develop a new routine and feel at home in a new place.”
As for the future, the actress and ballet dancer shares her exciting plans, which align perfectly with her love of research: “[I am] going back to college this summer. I’m at Columbia, and I just really am looking forward to working hard on something brand new again.” She also mentions she would again like to combine her two passions, dancing and acting, in future projects. Whichever path she chooses, Telles’ future is bright — whether she’s acting, dancing, in academia, a combination of all three or surprising us with something else entirely.
The Girlfriend Experience is currently airing on STARZ.
photography + direction. Mynxii White
fashion. Laura Sophie Cox @ A-Frame Agency
talent. Julia Goldani Telles
hair. Rena Calhoun
make up. Mai Guynh
production. James Kristofik
key grip. Chris Guillen
assistant direction. Craig Bullock
fashion assistant. Rossana Tornel Carrillo
words. Maya Orbach