Digital Cover: A Scoop of Joy Sunday

No siren song needed—meet the actress who is captivating the masses in her own creative right

For a solid week in November of 2022, the only content you’d find on social media revolved around the drop of the hit Netflix series Wednesday. The show revitalized the Addams Family franchise, with Tim Burton helming the moody, teen dramatization. A record-shattering number of viewers watched as young Wednesday Addams, played by Jenna Ortega, was shipped off to Nevermore, a school for supernaturally gifted children. There, she met her werewolf roommate, cute boys, and her siren rival, blue-eyed Bianca Barclay, the most popular girl in school who wasn’t as fearless as she came across, at least according to the actress who played her, Joy Sunday. As the two students dueled it out with fencing blades and increasingly clever quips, audiences took note of the wonderfully self-possessed newcomer opposite Ortega. It turns out, Sunday has been steadily working up towards the role, both in front of the camera, and behind its riveted gaze. 

Joy Sunday wears Uniqlo U 2023 Spring/Summer Collection throughout

The New York native, now 26 years old, came up in the city’s most popular exporter of young talents, LaGuardia High (most recently recognized as the launch pad of Timothee Chalamet). From there, she left for the West Coast to attend the University of California’s School of Cinematic Arts, before booking a string of small parts in film and television including Good Trouble, Bad Hair, Dear White People, and Dog. The early days are the most nerve-racking, and for a moment, the actress wasn’t sure if she could really do it all. She wanted to produce, write, act, and who knows what else. Most people are lucky to make enough to support one dream. Sunday had an endless number. Then came Wednesday, a show seemingly destined to achieve virality, along with the young talents that lifted its macabre aesthetic. Still, when Sunday calls, driving around Los Angeles on a work trip, she admits that she didn’t, perhaps couldn’t, anticipate the response. “It’s quite strange knowing how many people know what my face looks like,” she laughs. 

In an interview with VMagazine, Sunday gives us the scoop, while sporting Uniqlo U 2023 Spring/Summer Collection, on the spark of success setting her creative fire blazing anew, below.

VMAGAZINE: Bianca has been pegged as a breakout role for you. Did it feel like a big departure?

JOY SUNDAY: It’s definitely a departure in that I’ve never gotten to really live out a character and give them an arc. It’s funny, because this is the third time this week that I’ve heard that phrase used to describe me. I’m honored to have that title, but I definitely have been working towards it. [Playing Bianca was] the most comfortable that I’ve felt. I think it’s apparent. You can see how much fun I’m having and how well I fit into her skin.

V: You put together a lookbook for this character with Naomi Campbell, The City Girls, and Lil’ Kim. Is style an important part of crafting an identity for you? 

JS: Absolutely. I can’t really pinpoint a style that I have, but I do have an intention, and it is storytelling. Let’s say I’m going for an interview, or I’m going to a meeting. What do I want to say about myself? I have a bag that I pull out when I want to seem like a librarian, and when I’m feeling more playful, louder, or more colorful. It’s always a narrative for me. Instead of focusing on brands or some sort of status, I always feel confident if I’m telling a story.

V: Where do you pull inspiration from? I read that you had some Afro-punk inspiration on deck for Wednesday.

JS: I look to things like Afro-punk, different archival images, film or cinema, my culture, and even my music. I also draw a lot from the actual pieces that I wear. I have these “Powerpuff Girls” pants that are super, super big, like Wrangler size 36 jeans, which is 12 inches bigger than me. It’s quite girly, but it’s also really slouchy and baggy. I love it. A lot of my favorite items are quite colorful, but the other day, I noticed that I was walking through California in black cowboy boots, a black shirt, and a black leather coat with a black durag. So, I guess I’ve spent too much time in New York. 

V: It seems like you travel quite a bit. Is it for work, or do you just love to explore?

JS: I think I’m the world’s foremost extracurricular traveler. It’s always for work, or it’s always an extension of work, but I always find pleasure in it. As an actor, or as a performer, I’m always “on” in a way. I’m always digesting inspiration, and I like to think that I’m quite self-aware, so I’m always informing myself as an artist. Regardless of whether I’m traveling somewhere for work, especially if it’s a new place, it’s always a journey that I embrace quite spiritually.

V: Has acting been the primary pursuit for you, or did you always want to have one foot in front of the camera and one foot behind?

JS: When I was younger, performing was really a passion of mine, but I found filmmaking in high school. As annoying as it is, especially because I also love dance and singing, and I want to learn how to DJ! I just have so many pursuits that I’m really passionate about, I annoyingly have to say that I am in the business of expression, generally. 

V: And where are you headed the next year?

JS: I am really excited to be developing a lot of my own projects. I’ve been having a lot of really exciting meetings and discussions. I think I became scared of it for some time and I told myself I couldn’t do it. Acting has paid off in such a big way when typically, it’s seen as something that’s so unachievable. It’s such a huge, monumental moment for an actor to get a series regular [position], and to work with household names on one of the biggest platforms in the world. Actors would chop a leg off to achieve such a thing, but I don’t think they would actually expect to get that if they gave their leg over. It’s allowed me to reimagine the possibilities of what I can achieve.

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