Camille Razat, one of the breakout stars of the hit show Emily in Paris, is currently stuck in lockdown in France. Like many young actors who saw their shows go viral on Netflix in a year where streaming services were the saving grace of a tough year, Razat experienced her successes in the confines of her home.
Gone were the red carpet parades and the endless press junkets. But when you’re on a show that’s so popular, even isolation can’t stand in the way of triumph. As a fashion model for over a decade, Razat’s profile skyrocketed after the show. She adapted, even shooting some editorials virtually.
As the warm and welcoming ‘Camille’ on Emily in Paris, Razat found herself at the unexpected center of fan controversy as some fans decried the main character, ‘Emily’ (played by Lily Collins) as the antagonist of the show. How could she befriend the sweet and loving Camille, and then betray her confidences? Yet, Razat sees far more nuance to the role, as is discussed in Savoir Flair’s exclusive interview with the shining star. What did Razat really think about all of the Parisian clichés in the show? How did she handle the comments that disparaged Emily? And most of all, what lessons has she brought forth into her acting life that she learned from her modeling career? Learn all of this and more as Savoir Flair deep dives into the life of our gorgeous digital cover star.
How is life right now for you? What’s the situation in France?
Well, it’s quite bad — not the worst. We’re on a curfew all week, and then on the weekends we’re on lockdown, so you’re not supposed to go out. I think at the end of February they’re going to lock us up again; like a real lockdown.
What has that done to your daily schedule and your mental health? How are you coping with this?
It’s strange, but I don’t live alone, I live with my boyfriend so I’m not really alone. That’s a big thing. I still see my friends when I can. Everything is virtual, so every interview, even magazine [shoots] I did, they were virtual too.
I think you’re probably someone who has gone through a lot of changes in their personal life. Let’s look at your life before Emily in Paris happened. What was your life like then?
Well, I certainly had more time for myself to work out, see my friends, and that kind of stuff. Right now, I’m really busy, but I like it. Most of all, my life as a model has changed a lot; I got so many more contracts after the show aired. I don’t have much time to myself anymore.
Do you still feel like you have the same amount of privacy and the same type of home life?
Yes! My worst fear was being famous and people recognizing me on the street. I’m shy in real life, so that was my worst fear. Since we all wear masks and nobody knows who I am in a mask, it’s perfect for me. [Laughs]
My worst fear was being famous and people recognizing me on the street.
Without press junkets to promote the show and red carpets, in what other ways were you able to celebrate the success of the show?
Well, we did conference calls all together to drink a glass of wine or champagne together, even if it’s virtual. Lily, Ashley, and I also talk on Instagram all the time.
I hope that you were able to at least internally feel the success and feel the moment.
Yeah, it is crazy. And the most obvious thing that I noticed is that my Instagram followers went from 30k to what I have right now [548k], so it’s crazy. It’s really the Netflix effect I think; they are the only platform that does that to people.
That’s true. Have you guys started planning the shooting for season two?
They’re saying maybe April, May, June, July, and they’re going to pick one month or two I think. And because of COVID-19, they have had to make the shooting longer just in case someone gets sick, and we have to pause and reshoot. I think they’re taking so much time for this on purpose.
Totally makes sense. In the show, Camille is such a warm and charming character that many fans were rooting for her as opposed to Emily. What do you think about fan reactions to your character?
First of all, Lily [Collins] did a really great job with the character because they were really long days and she was also shooting Mank by David Fincher at the same time, so she was basically a robot. During the week she was with us, and on the weekends she’d fly to LA to shoot with David Fincher. Can you imagine? So, I just wanted to say that.
Then, in the story, of course her character is really difficult to understand and relate to because you’re thinking, ‘Camille is so nice, why is she cheating on her friend? Why is she doing that?’ And my response is that she’s just human, like the rest of us. And good people make mistakes, that could happen to Camille too, you don’t know. Maybe in season two there will be something that makes Camille less of an angel than in season one. I don’t see Emily as a villain. I think she has weaknesses like the rest of us, and I put myself in her place. Being in a new city with new people that are not that welcoming, it can feel lonely and you need love. That’s my perspective.
I think it added nuance to Emily’s character to see her as a human, like you said. I think people wanted her to be perfect and she wasn’t, and I liked that about it.
You are from the South of France, not Paris, but I am sure growing up you were familiar with some of the clichés surrounding Parisians. Did you think the show was unfair in its depictions of Paris and its citizens?
Well, it’s not fair — but what is fair? There are some clichés, but it’s called a cliché for a good reason! Because clichés are partly true, in a way. Otherwise they wouldn’t be clichés. It’s unfair to say every Parisian is not welcoming, because Parisians can be cool too, and welcoming and warm. It’s pretty rare, but it exists.
But, I think most of all, Sylvie’s character is really accurate. Let me tell you, I’ve been modeling since I was 14, so I’ve met a lot of people like that. Since I’m short, I would be doing fittings and they would just look at me, and scream ‘next’. Just like that. So that is kind of true. The drinking of wine at 11am — that is also true!
As your first major American production, did you have any issues with the language, and having to switch back and forth between English and French for scenes?
I struggled. I hired a coach because I’ve never lived in another country, not even London or the US, and I’m French so I don’t get to practice English everyday. I had to work my ass off to get a good accent. They wanted me to have a little Frenchness; they didn’t want me to speak fluent American English. One of the hardest scenes is when I’m explaining to Emily that Paris is a small town, and I’m switching from French to English and back to French. To keep the American rhythm and at the same time saying words in French, that was so hard to do.
You can see my dark circles, you can see my skin, my little wrinkles, it’s really me. This is really a fine shoot.
The shoot you did with Rayan Ayash for Savoir Flair is so gorgeous. What was it like on set? What were some of your favorite experiences from the shoot?
Rayan is a sweetheart, I really like him. It was the first time I’ve worked with him, and I immediately felt comfortable. He’s funny, plus I’m making jokes and making fun of myself all the time, so he was really into that British/French humor, so we got along really well. I really loved the shoot because he didn’t put so much makeup on my face, almost nothing. You can see my dark circles, you can see my skin, my little wrinkles, it’s really me. And he was like “don’t pose, don’t be a model, just be you.” It was really a fine moment. This is really a fine shoot.
You are no stranger to the fashion world, having modeled for many years. What are some of the style lessons you’ve learned through your modeling career?
It is such a hard job being a model. Let me tell you, it’s like one of the worst things you can do. I got tougher thanks to modeling, so when I get to my acting auditions, I’m less scared. I deal pretty well with stress; I don’t show it, I keep smiling. But they’re really different jobs, you know. Acting for me is more the truth and modeling is pretend, which is the opposite of how most people think about it. Also, I think it helped me to get used to the camera and to know my angles, and to ignore the camera and be natural. Modeling helped me through that.
Did you give input on Camille’s wardrobe? Did you work with Patricia Field [costume designer] to realize Camille’s style, and how much of Camille’s style is similar to your own?
Camille’s style in the series is not my style, but it has touches so that you can tell I’ve been involved in the styling process. Patricia Field is really open-minded. My first feeling was that I was kind of afraid, because at first it was all high-waisted jeans with cardigans. I’m not criticizing her — she did a great job, but it was more like Jeanne Damas’s style. I think for me, that’s a valid way to style Parisians, but it’s only one way.
My way would be more leather jackets, Doc Martens, let’s rock it. I mean the Parisian style for me is not one unique style, it’s multiple. Even my style can be really Jeanne Damas-ish sometimes, and sometimes it’ll be Michael Jackson, you know what I mean? I think Parisian style is this je ne sais quoi because we don’t care about other people’s opinions. I think that counts a lot and Camille’s character’s style was a mix between my style and what the American perspective called for. At the end of the day, it was a balance between the two.
Photographer Rayan Ayash Stylist Tania Rat-Patron Makeup Artist Tiziana Raimondo @ The Wall Group Hair Sebastien Bascle @ Calliste Agency Model Camille Razat