Modern Muse: Jodi Balfour

In our latest issue, we salute compelling modern muses: confident, strong, humble and stylish women that we’ve been dying to know just what their homes and wardrobes look like. First up, Jodi Balfour, a South African actress living in Los Angeles. This self-confessed daydream –adventurer extraordinaire is a purveyor of home-cooked meals, chatty hikes and storytelling.

When not acting, Jodi enjoys swimming in the ocean, travelling, and pastries. A lot of pastries. We caught up this exciting young star, to find out what makes her tick.

Jodi Balfour | ELLE Decoration South Africa
Jodi in her home in LA

I used to have a crush on Howard Roark, but now I suspect he’s a jerk

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What are you wearing today? Rachel Comey mustard chords and a striped turtle neck from Madewell. Bare feet because I’m on the couch.

How does that matter, if at all? It doesn’t, unless it does. It matters on days where I feel actually inspired to put an outfit together, seeking connection to myself and my self-expression… or on days when I’m pretending to be someone else at work.

How would you describe your style? Classic silhouettes with a little bit of whimsy, and a love of pattern and textures.

What is your morning ritual? Wake up – wee – meditate – good coffee – music – emails.

What is your greatest extravagance? Fashion.

I pay the ukulele, and am slowly learning to play the harmonica. Almost all of my daydreams are about being in a band.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? Avocados.

What is your current state of mind? Happy. A little silly. Impatient.

What is your most treasured possession? Freedom.

When I grow up I want to be French in the 60’s.

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Where would you like to live? Everywhere? New York City.  Paris in the 60’s . Big Sur, California.  Istanbul.  Vernazza, Italy… and Cape Town, South Africa.

Arrive with peonies and black coffee and my day is made.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Valiance.

Who are your favourite writers? Sam Shepard, Walt Whitman, Ayn Rand, Patti SmithAaron Sorkin.

What is your motto?

Actually, I can.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? On a tough day, Albert Camus. On a good day, Christabel Pankhurst.

What is your favourite room in the house? The living room.

 What is your favourite piece of furniture that you own? A tall mid-century standing lamp I found in a tiny little second-hand store in Vancouver.

Tell us a story of a defining moment in your life? When I was 18, I couldn’t imagine a more exciting place to study Theatre and learn more about acting than The Juilliard School in New York.  I wrote a gushing, heart-felt, agonized-over application essay and was granted an audition in person at the school a few months later. I was ecstatic.

My Aunt had been enormously generous, keeping a financial fund going for me as I grew up.  It was just enough to get my mum and I to New York City for what would be the most thrilling day of my acting-life.   Months of preparation, tutorship and jedi mind tricks were about to culminate in a place I had only ever dreamed about. I was ready. I was hungry. I was here to take my rightful place.

I waited impatiently for an hour or so to audition. I nervously gave it everything I had that day. And that was it…  The callback sheet was posted. There were seven names on it. None of them were mine.

My big, fragile, ambitious 18 year-old heart imploded. My insides felt loose and shaky.  I had failed myself. I had failed my dreams. I had failed everyone who ever believed in me.  My mum and I probably went back to our cheap, mid-town, semi-depressing hotel and she let me cry for a bit. Then we ate some really good New York pizza and walked in the sunny snow.

Jodi Balfour | ELLE Decoration South Africa
Jodi at HBO’s Official Emmy After Party. September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. | Canada’s Stars Of the Awards Season presented by TeleFilm on February 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California/ | Jodi at the MILWAUKEE world premiere at Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose in February 2015

It was so important for me to have my expectations challenged like that; for the reality check that it gave me to really sink into my bones, probably for the first time ever.  It’s not that I don’t think I was good enough, or talented enough or present-enough or too nervous or too foreign… It’s that I realised you can work your ass off for something you really believe you are worthy of, and it can still not work out. And it will feel horrible. It will feel painful. But you will go home, and find the next best thing, and learn that that will make you happy too. and that ‘the dream’ is a moveable feast. And that those were yesterday’s feelings. And that actually, everything’s ok.

In high school, you would have been voted ‘Most Likely to…’
Run away to the woods and start a commune.

How can people follow you?
Twitter: @JodiAnneBalfour | IG: @jodiannebalfour


Keen to find out more about Jodi’s background?

Born and raised in South Africa, Jodi spent her forma­tive years working in Cape Town’s burgeoning theatre and television industry. From the age of eight, she was on the professional stage performing in an array of ballets and musicals, and in the years that followed, her talents found their way to the small screen, where she starred and had supporting roles in both domes­tic and international television shows.

Captivated by the world of film, Jodi moved with her family to Vancouver in 2010 and began exploring international opportunities. Since her arrival in North America she has been an actress in demand, having worked on television series such as The CW’s “Supernatural”, SyFy’s “Sanctuary” as well as playing the lead in Global TV’s hit series “Bomb Girls”, which earned her a Leo and Gracie award nomination, the latter of which the show won.

Jodi’s film credits include the Sundance hit VAMPIRE, TIFF favorite THE HUSBAND and BOMB GIRLS: FACING THE ENEMY for which Jodi recently won the ‘Best Actress’ award at the Canadian Screen Awards. Upcoming credits include indies EADWEARD, UNEARTHING and MILWAUKEE.

This year, Jodi will head to New Orleans to film the lead female role in Cinemax’s highly anticipated new drama series ‘Quarry’, an HBO Entertainment production in association with Anonymous Content. Quarry is set to premiere in 2016 on Cinemax.

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