By Stephanie Davoli | Special to the Star. Thu., Dec. 1, 2022

“It’s not even 7 a.m. and Julia Pulo has arrived at a TV studio in Etobicoke. The 21-year-old musical theatre student completes her daily COVID-19 safety check-in, then races to her dressing room, tosses down her bags and heads to hair and makeup.

As her hair is carefully arranged into two space buns, she is slowly transformed into “Julia,” the bubbly high-energy version of herself who hosts the “Tummy Time” segment of Netflix’s revival of the beloved children’s show “Teletubbies.”

Netflix has partnered with Canadian production company WildBrain to revive “Teletubbies” for modern audiences after the original show premiered some 25 years ago. WildBrain says the revamped “Teletubbies,” narrated by Tituss Burgess — yes, that Tituss Burgess from “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” — promotes diversity through a rotating cast of children, all the while aiming to educate and entertain a preschool audience.

In each of the 26 episodes released by Netflix earlier this month, Pulo hosts a short segment that begins with her happily waving and repeatedly saying “Hi! Hello!” inside a small screen on one of the Teletubbies’ stomachs. The camera then zooms in and transports the audience to a brightly coloured room filled with a group of excited children as Pulo leads them through a short educational song.

Being one of the few main cast members on the show was a dream come true for the Mississauga native — although she didn’t know what she was auditioning for until right before she booked the show.

Last January, Pulo’s agent sent her a document entitled “The Tummy Time Song.” With little confidence that she would book the role, she submitted a self-tape and pretty much forgot about it.

A month later, Pulo received a callback with the same script, only this time the audition was live on Zoom. About a month after that, she had a second live audition for the role, still unaware of what the show was.

“I had no motivation that I would get it,” said Pulo. “I just kept thinking ‘Whoa, I’m getting a callback for something! That’s awesome. That doesn’t happen usually.’”

At her final call with producers in April, Pulo was finally told that she’d been auditioning for the Netflix revival of “Teletubbies.” Shortly after that, she was officially offered the role.

“I got the acceptance call when I had COVID,” said a laughing Pulo. “It was my first day of quarantine and I was with my mom, ’cause we both had COVID, and I just couldn’t believe it. I’m still in shock that this unknown role turned out to be such a big thing.”

The show’s producer, Daniel Bourré, says they knew they wanted Pulo for the role once WildBrain got to the vocal stage of the audition process.

“If you look up ‘triple threat’ in the dictionary, Julia’s face would be there. She can act, dance and sing,” said Bourré. “She is a true talent and WildBrain was thrilled to be able to work with her on this project.”

This is Pulo’s first major role in television, but the rising star has been making her way in the entertainment industry since elementary school. She starred in local musical theatre productions, and attended countless singing competitions as a child and often won. Pulo continued to take advantage of any chance to perform. In high school, she starred in such productions as “West Side Story,” “Cinderella” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”

“I fell in love with storytelling first,” Pulo said of her passion for being onstage. “I don’t think I’m good at anything else. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done and also the most exciting thing.”

Pulo was seriously dedicated to performing from a young age. Her parents noticed this and enrolled her in professional singing lessons when she was just seven.

Juliet Forrester, Pulo’s vocal coach of more than 14 years, is not at all surprised by Pulo’s success and fondly remembers the early years of them working together.

“It wasn’t the kind of thing where the mom was dragging the kid into singing lessons,” Forrester remembered. “As a teacher who’s seen hundreds of students, it stood out that Julia was always very engaged.”

Pulo’s dedication to her craft helped her get into one of the most prestigious musical theatre schools in the country, Sheridan College, which accepts only 40 students a year. She is set to graduate with an honours bachelor of music theatre performance this spring.

During the two weeks of filming “Teletubbies,” Pulo worked 10-hour days, five days a week. The long days weren’t the only challenge. Since she had to be extra energetic on camera, she often had her choreographer, Addy Chan, lead her through energy exercises to give her a boost in between takes.

While she’s still unsure of what exactly her future holds, she knows she wants to continue performing and she is very grateful for the opportunity she’s been given with “Teletubbies.”

“I’m just this random girl from Mississauga and I’ve been so lucky,” said Pulo with a wide smile. “Who knows what will happen in the future? But right now, I just want to continue exploring my artistry.””