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Janicza Bravo

"I use design to telegraph what the writing and performances do not." 

MONOGRAM: List your full name, profession, and place of residence:

JANICZA BRAVO, Writer/Director, Los Angeles, CA.

MONOGRAM: First off, congrats on the debut of your first feature length film, Lemon! The reaction at the Sundance premier and since has been overwhelmingly positive. When can we expect to see it in theaters?

JANICZA: Magnolia Pictures is releasing it in New York and LA on August 18th.

MONOGRAM: We’ve heard the character of Cleo, played by Nia Long, is meant to represent you in real life. How do you go about finding someone to play you? Did you have any specific criteria when casting this role?

JANICZA: I wrote Lemon with my partner, Brett Gelman. He’s also in the film. Cleo, like all the characters, is written in our likeness; the good, the bad, the off, the uncomfortable. 

MONOGRAM: When you collaborate on a film with Brett, does the director/actor dynamic impact your life together outside of the film?

JANICZA: Yes and no. Our personalities are ultimately the same in both arenas. Maybe how we engage with one another is what shifts. We’re playful and intense, and that’s an across-the-board manner. When we first started working together we were able to draw a clear line between work life and home life. Now it’s all soup  the lines are nonexistent. A writing session can evolve pretty quickly into a negotiation of who ought to be walking and feeding the dog. But it’s seamless. We’re both alpha, we’re both good fighters. Of the two of us, Brett has a larger capacity to bend, which can be very necessary for forward movement. When we were making our film last summer, one of the best parts of the whole thing was the drive to and from work. Getting to have someone in my corner at that level in that environment was massive.

MONOGRAM: In your opinion, why are there so few female directors in Hollywood? 

JANICZA: I’d go one step further and include directors of color as well, and my answer would be the same: Inherent White Male Supremacy. 

MONOGRAM: Are there films that serve as your “gold standard”, ones that you keep coming back to over and over?

JANICZA: (in alphabetical order) Ali Fear Eats The Soul, All That Jazz, Annie Hall, The Black Power Mixtape, Don’t Look Now, The Landlord, and Hollywood Shuffle.

MONOGRAM: If you could work with any actor/actress in Hollywood, who would it be and why?

JANICZA: (in alphabetical order) Cate Blanchett, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Viola Davis, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Isabelle Huppert, Patti Lupone, Audra McDonald, Julianne Moore, Tilda Swinton, and Lorraine Toussaint.

MONOGRAM: Prior to the film world, you worked as a stylist. Do you find any crossover in the stylist skill set vs. the director skill set?

JANICZA: For me, design is very much a part of storytelling. Palette, space, and wallpaper can tell whole truths. Wardrobe should say without words where a character is going and where they are coming from. I use design to telegraph what the writing and performances do not.

MONOGRAM: If you had to choose a character from a TV show or film who best personifies your personal style, who would it be?

JANICZA: Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Anna Karina in Pierrot le Fou, Seret Scott in Losing Ground, and every look in Love in the Afternoon.

MONOGRAM: Tell us about your favorite vintage t-shirt? How and when did you acquire it?

JANICZA: Hard to pick one, but I will. It’s from my mother. She gave it to me in high school. It’s orange with a graphic of a fox in a fencing uniform. It says “Fencers are Foxy”. My mother used to sew fencing uniforms. My parents were both tailors.

MONOGRAM: What’s your favorite way to style a t-shirt?

JANICZA: White jeans, statement hat, gold jewelry, and most of all a supportive shoe. Sailboat to high rise.

MONOGRAM: Do you use graphic t-shirts to articulate your point of view? How so?

JANICZA: Clothing is an expression of where I am or am not. If I’m in a good place, there’s a great deal of effort and playfulness. 

MONOGRAM: Lightning round: describe yourself in terms of the following…

ERA: Top note '70s, bottom note ‘40s
FETISH: Horizontal stripes
SYMBOL: Astrological is Pisces, Spiritual is a turtle
LOCATION: Near the equator
OBJECT: Silk scarf
BEVERAGE: Hot floral tea or a murky martini
VEHICLE: (of choice) ’70s VW Beetle Convertible, (of reality) Toyota Scion that I won in a sweepstakes
RITUAL: Water with lemon, water with ACV, coffee, tea
TAGLINE: “Does Janet need a walk?” (Janet is my dog)

PHOTOGRAPHY: Jason Frank Rothenberg