Team-Twilight exclusive: Judi Shekoni talks Zafrina and more!
The lovely Judi Shekoni will be playing the Amazonian vampire Zafrina in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. She took some time from her busy filming schedule to talk with Team-Twilight! Read on for what she had to say about being destined to play her role, charities she is interested in, Zac Efron as Edward Cullen, working with Mackenzie Foy, and her love for Jake Gyllenhaal. You can also find out why I want her to be my new BFF.
Team-Twilight.com: Right after your casting was announced, along with about 15 other actors, we ran a poll to see who people were excited to see onscreen in Breaking Dawn and you won the poll with about 30% of the vote.
Judi Shekoni: That’s awesome! Wow!
TT: You really kind of embody what people expect from Zafrina. Does that put a lot of pressure on you for the role?
JS: Well, not now I’ve nearly finished shooting. Maybe if I’d known it before. I think this is probably the best time for us to have this conversation. That’s amazing. I really do think – because obviously I’ve read the books and I saw the movie – and I’m kind of into the esoteric spirituality thing, and the character is so similar to me, you know physically and even a lot of the characteristics I feel like I embody. I was just blessed with, you know, it kind of aligned. When I read it, I was like, “Wow this is kind of similar,” and then to go in on it, I felt like I definitely had a lot of the characteristics. Hopefully they all carry through on screen and I kind of achieve everything that people expect and want. It is a great character and I am in love with her.
TT: When you went for your audition, were you auditioning for Zafrina or just for any role in the film?
JS: No, I was auditioning for the Amazons, so for both of them [Zafrina or Senna]. Obviously, I wanted Zafrina because she has a special power and I’m all about the special power! I specifically went in there dressed like the character with my braids in. I was like, I think I am gonna get arrested because I look too much like the character. I feel like I’ve tried too hard and they’ll think I’m a stalker or something. Before, as well, I made sure I recapped everything. So I went by myself at twelve o’clock at night the day before the audition and watched Eclipse. By myself in the Chinese Mann’s Theater in Los Angeles. But what was really funny is, because it was midnight, there was no one in any of the screens, and I went into the wrong screen and for like 10 minutes I am watching Charlie St. Cloud with Zac Efron.
TT: I don’t remember Zac Efron being in Twilight!
JS: Yeah, Edward looked different in the other movies. And I don’t remember him being on a boat! And then I realized I was in the wrong screen.
TT: Your character has a lot of interaction with Renesmee. Have you spent much time with Mackenzie [Foy]?
JS: I have, yeah, and she’s so lovely, such an amazing child. Like when I have children, I want them to be like her, just so well brought up. And that’s pretty much the consensus of everywhere and everyone, just saying what a well brought up, polite girl that she is. And very mature, as well, for her age. She’s super lovely, and it’s great, the relationship that they [Zafrina and Renesmee] have in the book is very strong and powerful and I hope that it carries across on screen.
TT: How much time did you spend in Baton Rouge?
JS: Wow, I spent about four months.
TT: It’s funny, because reading the cast’s Twitter updates, it kind of seems a bit like summer camp. Was that the kind of experience it was? It is just so many people working every single day together. I am curious what that was like.
JS: It must have been really interesting for you guys reading all the Twitter. That makes me realize that I know only what I write, really. But if you seem them all together, you probably have a better idea of what it was like for everyone than me, who was in the middle of it. It was really to see that everyone’s opinions of what went on kind of built up a true picture. I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity where I got to be with a group of like-minded individuals. Everyone around about the same age. Everyone on the same journey together. And also, all of us doing an interesting, cool film. We aren’t doing one where I’m pregnant and my baby’s ill,and it’s not something that is like torturous to shoot, and super highly emotional. It was one about relationships and we kind of felt like that by bonding with each other we were adding tot he film.
TT: Did you do any physical training?
JS: I did some training, yes. And also, for me, I felt like Zafrina has a toughness about her, and also a strength, coming from the rain forest and being self-sufficient out there, and being of nature, so for me it was really important to build up a physicality that represented that. So I definitely was putting myself in the gym a lot. Whether you see the results on camera is the question, but I was there pretty much every day. I felt like a girl’s gotta do her bit. Now all of these guys have these amazing bodies in this film. I don’t think I quite achieved a Taylor or a Kellan body.
TT: I don’t think you want to have a Taylor or Kellan body, as a woman.
JS: That would be scary.
TT: Are you a Robert Pattinson fan?
JS: Of course! Working with him for this long, and reading all the books. I was always an Edward fan reading the books, so yes.
TT: Well, fans really really freak out over Rob, Kristen and Taylor. Do you have a particular celebrity that you would freak out over if you saw them in person? Or maybe you would hang their posters in your room in secret?
JS: I watched Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal. And I had to get on my Twitter and ask people if they love him, because I loved him. And I did a little poll where I asked Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Leonardo Dicaprio, and for me, most people, Jake Gyllenhaal won. I think because he has a vulnerability, as well as a sexuality, which is really nice. Also, Ian Somerhalder from Vampire Diaries. Very good-looking.
TT: I’m guessing The Twilight Saga is going to introduce you to a giant mass of people that may not know who you are right now. Are you prepared for the fandom and its intensity?
JS: I can’t really imagine that so much. In England, I was in a TV show which raised my profile over there. To be honest, with that, I enjoyed it. I like meeting people. I like talking about my work. I don’t really have any secrets that I am trying to hide or something. I’m not secretly dating the President, or anything like that. Don’t have a criminal record or anything. For me, if that occurs, then I definitely embrace it. In this industry I never really take anything for granted, so I guess I’ll see what happens at the other end. If it does happen and it means that people want to talk to me or whatever then I am so available.
TT: The fans really appreciate when you seem approachable or available, which is why fans love when celebrities are active on Twitter or Facebook.
JS: I love talking on Twitter. It’s so nice. It was my birthday on Thursday, and I got so many great messages on Twitter and on Facebook. Everyone is so nice on Twitter. I like talking to people. And if people see me out, they can come up and talk to me. I am not going to run away and hide.
TT: Would you say you are closest with Tracy [Heggins, who plays Senna] in the cast?
JS: Yeah I think our characters are so close.
TT: You work with her more than anyone else?
JS: Yeah, exactly.
TT: Tell me about your hair extension line. Was that something you had before Twilight.
JS: I thought I really wanted to start a company and I wanted to do it actively, rather than studying it. And that’s when I started the hair extensions company The website is www.extensionevolution.com. I’ve been wearing hair extensions since I was 16, so it was something I knew a lot about. And also, as a woman, I know how much it makes a difference what your hair is like. It can be the difference between full self-confidence and zero self-confidence. I really wanted to be able to find good quality ones and be able to offer it. Without going into too much detail, with hair, you can’t really tell if it’s good quality until you’ve bought it and already put it in. So it’s an industry where you can get ripped off a lot. So I really wanted to do something that was a product where it was what it said it was.
TT: What other projects do you have coming up? I recall reading about a TV show you might be hosting.
JS: The television show called “When Women Ruled the World.” And what’s funny is that the original name of it was “When Amazon Women Ruled the World.” Isn’t that funny? I am destined to be an Amazonian no matter what I do. I’ve already shot it. It was shot in Fiji so I got to live on an island in Fiji for two months. And the premise is: What would happen in a world where women rule and men obey? I don’t know when it’s going to air or where it will air. Fingers crossed that they will find a place for it. Worst case scenario, I still got to live in Fiji for two months.
TT: Are there any other projects you have going on?
JS: One of the things that I want to do, that I am looking forward to helping with, being part of Twilight, is charities and stuff. So I am hoping to work with Great Ormond Street Charity, which is a kids’ hospital in England. And in Los Angeles we are just working out which one, but I think it’s Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. It’s really important to me to find people that I can support. I look forward in the future to being able to share more about that.
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