Looking at Joy Sunday through a Zoom screen, a few adjectives come to mind. She's poised, luminous, and—well—joyful. That being said, being unbelievably beautiful and effortlessly good at whatever she does seems to be the only traits Sunday and her character on the new Netflix series Wednesday have in common. Sunday plays Bianca Barclay, a picture-perfect queen bee who doesn't take kindly to the threat Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) poses to her place atop their boarding school's social hierarchy.
In real life, the actress is infectiously good-natured, with a smile that lights up the whole room and an eagerness to try any new skill that interests her—even if that means failing the first several times. A few days before the show's premiere, Sunday logged on to chat with me from her childhood home in New York City, where she's living again after several years in Los Angeles.
Is it nice being back in New York?
It is! I came back so I could spend more time with my family, and then three months later, I booked Wednesday, so I spent several months away. I just came back from Scotland as well after spending about a month there. Since moving here, I've spent more time in Europe than in New York. But it has been lovely to be around my family, especially in this time of a lot of fortune. It's nice for them to experience that with me and be able to take care of them through it. I'm getting to spend time here as an adult for the first time since college, and I enjoy it a lot more than I did growing up, you know, with my parents' rules and stuff. [laughs]
Tell me more about that. What does it feel like to be back as an adult?
Well, you realize there is much more to do than go to Union Square. It's funny because people see New York as [a place where] there are so many things to do, but in my childhood, there wasn't much I could explore. As an adult, there are so many things I can do. I have friends that are curators and make movies, and I can see them in the city. I also appreciate having traveled quite a lot and coming back home and noticing the beauty of New York. I spent some time in Italy this past year, and as I was coming back home, I was like, Ugh, I'm gonna be so miserable in New York. But as I was driving over the Verrazzano Bridge, I was like, Oh my gosh, the sunset is gorgeous! I have a renewed sense of appreciation.
What does it feel like to be experiencing your first New York fall and winter in a long time?
I'm still used to experiencing fall and winter. I took up running when we were filming in Romania, and I'd be outside in November and December. The weather there is basically the same as in New York, so it was really cold. After running in Bucharest and seeing the leaves changing and the dogs, I'm now looking up and taking it all in during my runs in New York. I'm running through the parks I never visited as a kid, reacquainting myself with my surroundings. It has been a very restorative practice, not just because it's keeping me healthy but also because I feel juiced by it.
What else have you been doing since you moved back?
Since I came back from Romania earlier this year, I've been working on renovating my house, and I started with my room. Going through this renewal process has allowed me to be very meditative. I've been trying to clear my mind out and feel settled before the show comes out because I don't know what to expect of suddenly being introduced to hundreds of millions of people at one time. Working on my room has almost been a metaphor for clearing my mind and preparing for the rest of the year.
It must also be nice to be back in the same home as your parents and be able to take partial ownership of that space as an adult.
My parents have worked extremely hard since they came to America. I'm the last child, and I've achieved this success for myself. Coming back home has allowed me to say, "Okay, guys, you've worked hard all this time, so now it's time to enjoy your life and think about things you want." Trying to encourage my parents to think that way has been one of the most emotional growths I've experienced in the past couple of months. It's been helping us try to understand ourselves outside of work.
What are some of the changes you've been making?
Throwing a lot of stuff out! But I've also been rediscovering a lot of things about my parents. I found a huge batch of letters from the '70s. I've been digitizing VHS tapes, and I've been trying to do it when my parents are around so they can see these videos they haven't seen in years: videos from their village in Nigeria, my birthday when I was four, etc. Encouraging the spirit of unearthing is great because there's a lot of stuff here.
You've talked about helping your parents relax. What have you been doing to take care of yourself?
I love video games, so I love playing on my Switch whenever I don't have anything else to do. I'm replaying a game called Disco Elysium, which is very narratively based. I'm trying to pick up on my reading more. I've randomly gotten into a fantasy/YA book called Raybearer. I just started reading it, and I was like, Oh, we're getting through this.
Do you have a morning routine?
I've been trying. I'm always online, so I'm trying to divest from the wake-up-and-scroll routine. I've been trying to read for at least 20 minutes before starting my day. Running has also been part of my routine. My ideal morning routine would be waking up, meditating, reading, making breakfast, going for a run, and easing into my day.
Do you have a skincare and makeup routine?
I use a cleanser from La Roche Posay, lotion from CeraVe, hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary, and BHA from CosRx. Whenever I feel a zit coming on or need to look extra glowy, I use my Foreo UFO mask. For makeup, I need someone to threaten me into knowing how to do makeup. I wish I could beat my face. The only thing I can do is a cat eye.
That's a key skill that's hard to master, so that's pretty good.
Well, that's the one thing I stick to. I discovered Danessa Myricks recently, and I love the Vision Flush Blush ($20) she has because it works on my cheeks and my lips. I'm the queen of buying products and saying, "Oh, I'm gonna learn how to use that." Then, they just sit there for two years.
Are there other types of self-expression you're really into?
Dressing up and dancing is how I cheer myself up, for sure. I love to dance, especially to Afrobeats. I also feel good when teaching myself something or learning something new. I think a big part of trying to embrace life is trying to learn about all of it.