In real life, Julia King acknowledges she lives a fairly sheltered existence. She isn’t getting bullied, makes good grades and has a family and teachers supporting her dreams. But the 14-year-old in front of the camera always manages to land the role of the tough girl. Case in point: Chub, a short film shot in Miami where Julia plays the part of Steph, a school rebel encouraging a friend to fight back against a bully. “It helps me understand other people and the things they have gone through,” Julia says. “And it’s fun to be someone else for a while. I can’t get in trouble for swearing.”
Chub is one of two major film projects Julia has been cast in within the past year, both of which were shot in Florida. The other is the feature-length Sex Ed starring Haley Joel Osment, which filmmakers hope to release later this year.
But Chub serves as the biggest moment so far in the young actress’ career, the first film to reach a commercial audience. The short premiered earlier this year at the Miami International Film Festival, though the Out of Door Academy student was unable to make that event. She isn’t going to miss the screenings in Tampa or Sarasota, and in April she also looks forward to a special screening of the film at the Academy.
If you wonder how such a young starlet could already be landing such roles, it didn’t come overnight. Julia has been acting since she was a small child, regularly taking on stage roles at The Venice Theatre and other area playhouses. She also spends periods of weeks to months each year in Los Angeles auditioning for roles and taking intensive acting classes. She recently served as the dance captain for a Venice production of Oklahoma, and in terms of big screen work, she has worked in several student films at Ringling College of Art and Design and at other educational institutions in California and New York.
“I love doing this, and I do it because it’s fun,” Julia says. “I would like to do it as a professional when I am older.”
Chub was created with the idea of classroom instruction in mind; many of the scenes were shot both with clean dialogue for younger audiences and more mature language for older students. The version of Chub hitting screens in coming days and weeks in Southwest Florida will be the 30-minute version, but Julia just got word that director Samuel Albis is moving forward with plans for a feature-length version of the same story, one which will again feature both Julia in the role of Steph and lead actor Jovan Armand in the title role of Chub.
Julia’s role was not only her biggest part to date, but her deepest role. This was the first gig she ever had where a full day of her schedule was dedicated to learning the psychological make-up and backstory for the character. Of course, Julia keeps Steph’s backstory to herself; some details best unroll over the course of the short film and audiences should learn those at the screening, she says.
As for Julia, she remains determined to stay involved in film, something her teachers at ODA—and past instructors at Pine View School—have accommodated even as she took classroom time off to do shoots as long as six weeks.
Her mother Alyson has also helped both in transporting Julia to auditions and shoots, often looking out for her daughter’s interests beyond her career. She recalls helping her daughter understand some of the more graphic matters in Sex Ed, and shared a couple moments when she had to speak with filmmakers about especially adult dialogue in the script.
But dark backstories and mature topics often go with the roles that Julia lands. Despite appearing a highly pleasant person in real life, she has been passed over for bubbly roles as a kid frolicking through a theme park in a television advertising campaign, then picked up for more challenging and emotionally demanding roles like the one in Chub.