Amanda Brugel: “I Feel a Greater Responsibility to Portray Women That Are Sort of Invisible When It Comes to Considering Them to Be a Part of The Workforce”

Amanda Brugel is a Canadian actress taking the world by storm since landing her role as Rita on The Handmaid’s Tale, where she had a chance to work with her childhood icon, Margaret Atwood (who originally wrote this story in 1984). For those who are not familiar with this show, The Handmaid’s Tale’s plot features a dystopian future that explores many dark themes that are shockingly prescient in today’s political and social climate.

First things first, Amanda Brugel revealed what she thought would surprise viewers, as well as the elements she loved most about the newest iteration of The Handmaid’s Tale. In particular, she hinted at unlikely unions between characters and different people “coming together to create an unlikely force.” Much to our excitement {SPOILER ALERT}, Amanda also noted that Aunt Lydia’s backstory will finally be explained: “Everyone will finally get their Aunt Lydia flashback episode, which is amazing!”

On Amanda: Blazer by ZOFF; Lace cropped top by Stephan Caras; Tulle skirt from VSP Consignment; Rings and Earrings by Royal de Versailles

Amanda is very self-aware and understands that her role as Rita goes beyond the screen and into the real world. “We didn’t realize that in first making of the show, that it would be just propelled into the zeitgeist like it is – it really did force us to become a little more political in our views”. Along with the new political responsibility that came with the show, Amanda Brugel was surprised by the response of housewives and women living in domestic roles, that say they see themselves in her character, “I didn’t anticipate that at first, but now I feel a greater responsibility to portray women that are sort of invisible when it comes to considering them to be a part of the workforce. I feel a responsibility to portray them with empathy and strength.” Her imprint on the world clearly goes beyond acting. She understands the responsibility of the roles that she plays and gives back philanthropically through “Brug’s Army”, a non-profit organization that she started to raise money for various women charities. The idea came about when she played a lesbian character on Seed, “A lot of people started donating money in my name to different charities…I caught wind of it and thought, if we take this and harness this, maybe we can make a greater impact.”

On Amanda: Dress by Stephan Caras; Necklace, Rings and Earrings by Royal de Versailles

There’s an obvious theme of sisterhood surrounding Amanda’s story. She finds hope and faith in the power of uniting women. A true girl’s girl, Brugel started hosting events called “Mingle for a Mission” in which she invited her celebrity girlfriends to come. “People buy tickets, and we hang out with them for an afternoon, and raise money.” Brug’s Army is an organization operating online, which allows people from all around the world to donate: “That’s how I’ve used the internet for good”. In the age of the internet, another way that it has been used for good is through the emergence of online streaming: “It created this platinum age of prestige television and has really turned television into an art. I feel like a lot of television shows are replacing films and the quality of films: the viewers are able to consume shows at a higher rate; they’re becoming savvier, their tastes are being heightened. It’s almost like television viewers are becoming mini-cinephiles in their own homes.” At the same token, Brugel acknowledges the dark side of online streaming and “the idea that it’s sped us up as consumers of television, we’re maybe not appreciative of every moment because we’re just so hungry. I feel like people spit out the content so quickly, they almost forget a lot of scenes or it’s not as much attention to detail from the viewer. I just think collectively as humans, it scares me because it’s speeding us up, and I think we all need to slow down.”

On Amanda: Blazer by ZOFF; Lace cropped top by Stephan Caras; Tulle skirt from VSP Consignment; Rings and Earrings by Royal de Versailles; Heels from L’Intervalle

Just as Amanda unites women in her life for the greater good, we will see women coming together in Season Three of The Handmaid’s Tale. “When women unite, they are a force to be reckoned with. Seeing how easy it is for women to put aside their political views and fight together for things that we always bond over: our own freedoms, our own independence, and the value of children. I think that’s the thing that gives me hope, and particularly the number of women that have just recently gone into Congress and how they’re already a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully, we will see and reap the benefits of them being together as a cool lady gang.” Brugel didn’t just find herself in the position that she’s in–she created it for herself. As an undergraduate at York University, she wrote her thesis on The Handmaid’s Tale, which resulted in a full scholarship for her education. She has a strong sense of self, including the pride she has as a Canadian. “When I go anywhere else in the world, I don’t see 15 different races sitting together on the subway – I just think that that’s beautiful.”

On Amanda: Dress by Stephan Caras; Necklace, Rings and Earrings by Royal de Versailles

A true Torontonian, Brugel celebrates diversity, much to the contrary of the show, which doesn’t broach the topic at all. Brugel nevertheless remains positive about the choices made the surrounding race in the series: “I mean, I love it because it gave me a job! It does wonder for giving people of colour, particularly women of colour, leading roles in equality television programs.” She doesn’t ignore the criticism that the show has gotten for veering away from the original storyline, but commented that “it would’ve been a larger conversation had they stuck to the original format of having just a Caucasian cast.”

Contrary to her role as Rita, Brugel’s role on Kim’s Convenience as Nina Gomez speaks to Toronto’s multiculturalism and diversity.  She says her character as Nina is the closest to who she is as a person and that transitioning from Rita to Nina is not difficult at all because it’s essentially just her. However, things will be more difficult when she transitions from Nina to Rita in the fall on her return to Gilead. Of course, Amanda is up to the challenge: “It’s the thing that I love…I’ve always been more of a character actor, more character-based and character driven, it’s another way to sort of stretch your muscle as a performer.”

On Amanda: Blazer by ZOFF; Lace cropped top by Stephan Caras; Tulle skirt from VSP Consignment; Rings and Earrings by Royal de Versailles

When asked who else she admired, there was no hesitation in mentioning Michelle Obama, “She’s just so articulate and profound, but accessible, and seems like a nice human being and doesn’t put on any airs.” And when defining success, Amanda thinks that “it’s achieving balance, some semblance of balance in all areas of your life. The only time I’ve felt successful is when I’ve had balance, and that’s very hard to achieve as a mother and as a working actor. The older I get, the quicker I am to realize the signs of when things are out of balance.” Together with her clear intelligence, Amanda has gotten to where she is by subscribing to the Abraham Hicks “think things into existence” mindset. To her, perspective is everything, “You have the ability to change your life strictly by how you look at it and how you look at things. I think that if you keep on looking at things positively, your life will radically change. The more positive you are, and the more you focus on the good in your life, the happier you will be and the more successful you will be.”

On Amanda: Green Chiffon cover up with feather trim by ZOFF; Levi Jeans and Manolo Blahnik heels from VSP Consignment; Rings and Earrings by Royal de Versailles; Necklace from VSP Consignment

Photography: Margarita Menard 
Hair & Makeup: Veronika Polianska 
Styled by Bianca Brown
Location: Hotel X Toronto by Library Hotel Collection