FYIG recently has the chance to talk to actress Jessica Rose about her budding career, vegetarian dishes, and much more. Check out the full interview inside!
You started acting as a child. Did you always see yourself becoming an actress or did you have other careers in mind?
I once found my end-of-year book from kindergarten and it said I wanted to be a nurse, but I’m pretty sure even then I was fooling myself. I don’t even know if it was ever a decision I actually made; it just was. There is this sort of “legendary” home video of me performing for my family at age five: I’m singing a song, and I’m pretty terrible and forgetting the words and I couldn’t coordinate my body parts and everyone in the room besides my proud parents were bored and waiting for me to wrap it up (this video is on YouTube somewhere…just sayin’). But I was just the happiest. I was born with this inexplicable need and passion to create and perform and it’s been the driving force behind my whole life. I sometimes think we pursue the passions or talents that have the most to teach us, because there is no way (in my humble opinion) we would put up with the endless lessons, obstacles, failures, and challenges that come with pursuing a path like this if the dream wasn’t essential to our being. So, I guess the short answer is, it’s just never been a realistic option in my life or psyche not to act.
You’ve been primarily acting on television and in movies over the past couple of years. Do you ever plan on going back to your theatre roots?
I’ve gone back to it now and then, and I take acting class that’s based on a lot of theatre work, but I find the worlds quite separate here in Canada. So once I put more of my focus towards film and television, it became the priority. I think it takes a great deal of energy and focus to build up a career in either area; if someone can do both at the same time that’s amazing, but I think it’s rare. I hope one day the journey will bring me full circle. If Broadway wants me, I’m there! I would kill to do theatre in New York someday.
Do you prepare any differently for a theatre performance than you would for a TV show or movie?
Great question! I think the script work, the scene analysis, is the same. But obviously, you have way more rehearsal time in theatre. In film and TV, you have to show up to get ready for a polished performance: yes, you still remain open to exploring things take-to-take, and the director will make adjustments, but ultimately all the prep happened on your own time. I’m so used to that way of working now that when I go back to theatre I always show up off-book on the first day of rehearsal; I just have more fun and freedom without the script in my hands. The other thing about live performance is that the narrative is building in real-time and you can go through the character’s emotional journey from start to finish, over the course of an hour or two. In film or TV, often scenes are shot out of order and weeks apart, so I do need to map out the emotional journey more specifically.
You wrote, produced, edited, and acted in a short film called Alison. How difficult is it to juggle all those responsibilities (even in a short)?
The most juggling tends to happen before the shooting day. As an actor, you just want to be working on your lines and doing your prep work, but when you’re producing you’re also doing paperwork, bringing things together logistically, doing massive craft shops at Costco (or is that just me?), hiring and organizing people–whatever needs doing. The night before filming Alison I think I had about two hours of sleep. So yeah, there is way more stress for sure, but I really find the whole process so gratifying. On the day itself, I tried to just focus on the acting, and occasionally piped up as an editor to make sure we got some coverage I knew I wanted. On that note, I loved editing the film. I think every actor should edit themselves on screen at least once. It really taught me so much about myself and my work.
Do you plan on splitting time in front of and behind the camera in future projects or do you primarily consider yourself an actress?
Some of the most satisfying moments of my career have been from creating my own work. I don’t think anything will replace the specific passion I feel for acting; it really does feed my soul in a way I haven’t found elsewhere. But working behind the scenes has not only stretched me creatively but has allowed me to have more control over the direction of my career and the opportunities I attract. I mean, let’s be real here: the there is still so much work to be done in regards to the roles that exist for women and minorities in this industry, so there is some necessity to it. But I do love the creative process. I remember sitting in my bedroom editing Alison for two weeks, and I’m pretty sure I ate nothing but peanut butter because I was so obsessed and consumed by what I was doing. It’s a tough thing to articulate, but creativity can be a bit like a drug. There is something deeply and uniquely fulfilling to me about every stage of bringing a creative vision to life. So, I don’t know how much I will “split time” but I certainly don’t plan to stop. My husband and I are going to co-direct our next short together, so I do have that coming up.
Your husband directed Alison as well as another one of your shorts Frozen Marbles. Does it make it easier having someone so close to you in the director’s chair or does it make you more nervous?
Oh, easier for sure! I trust him implicitly as a director, and he knows me better than anyone. As an actor, I just want to be in an environment where I feel safe to be vulnerable in the work and that I have a director who will be truthful and diligent about getting what he needs from me. David does all those things, but probably pushes me more than someone else might because he knows he can. But if you met him you’d immediately understand it; he’s the sweetest, best, funniest guy. It’s just lots of fun working together.
You won an Emerging Artist Award at the Lakeshorts Film Festival in 2015 for your role in Frozen Marbles. What was it like to get that recognition?
It was the best. It’s obviously so lovely to be recognized at any time in your career, but Frozen Marbles was the first project David and I made together and we really did put everything we had into it. He also won an award for directing it. That recognition was enough to encourage us to keep making more. Also, Lakeshorts, in particular, is founded and run by other artists in my industry that I admire a great deal: Michelle Nolden and Chris Szarka. So it really meant a lot to be acknowledged by them.
You played the role of Katie in a few episodes of Man Seeking Woman. Do you prepare any differently for a recurring role than you would for a one-off?
It depends on the show and the character, but I would say for the most part it’s the same. In TV, it’s very rare that you’re given the whole arch of a season up front, so you kind of do have to take it episode by episode. And things are constantly changing. You might fully prepare a scene only to have it completely re-written the next day. But I’m about to shoot a role on a mini-series and this was actually one of the rare occurrences where I was given all the scripts at once. In this case, I am taking some time to map out the emotional journey a little bit more, because I have the benefit of knowing the A-Z.
You have a role coming up in the 2018 series The Detail. Can you tell us a bit about the series and your character?
The Detail is a new character-driven detective drama starring three fierce women: Shenae Grimes, Angela Griffin, and Wendy Crewson. The show follows them as they solve crimes and, of course, deal with their juicy personal lives. I don’t know how much I can tell you about my character before it comes out because she’s tied in with some plot points I don’t want to leak! But it was definitely a role no one has seen me do before. It was so fun.
You’ve been a vegetarian since birth. What’s your favourite vegetarian meal that people may not realize is even vegetarian?
I feel so much pressure to give like the best answer to this! But I feel like hardcore meat-lovers will argue to the grave that there isn’t a vegetarian meal on earth that will make them not realize that meat is missing. I’ve never sat down and eaten a steak so I feel like nothing I say to them will have any cred. BUT, I challenge anyone to order the roasted vegetables at Ostrich Farm in LA and not die happy (do they put crack in those vegetables? Seriously). My go-to cuisines for a vegetarian feast? I’d probably say some authentic Indian, Middle Eastern, or Mexican food. I’m really not sure how you can be thinking about meat when you’re stuffing your face with guacamole or palak paneer.
(I’m also one of those annoying brunch obsessed people. Sorry, not sorry. I freaking love brunch. I’m not ashamed. Give me all variations of eggs and hollandaise and a pile of potatoes and some really great hot sauce and I’m good for life. Does that make me lose even more credibility? I don’t care.)
I understand that you’re a photographer and that you enjoy painting and drawing. Might these things become somewhat of a side-career for you?
I have definitely taken a great deal of headshots and I’ve shot weddings. I do love it, but acting and filmmaking will always be the priority for me. I love finding different outlets for my creativity and both those things have been really useful tools for my self-expression at various points in my life. But I like to keep them as pure and fun and joyful as possible. If I think of anything as too much of a “job” or an obligation, I get a bit turned off it.
What are your goals as an actress?
Bravery. Not only in regards to the roles I choose to do and how I execute them, but also in the pursuit of creating and sharing the stories that I believe in. I love a good popcorn flick or rom-com like anyone else, but film also has the power to be an amazing tool for change. At the very least, it can inspire new ideas and important conversations. I just hope I can contribute positively and passionately in this regard, both on-screen and off. I want to be braver at honing and using my voice and artistry in a responsible, meaningful, badass way. And, you know, maybe having tea with Oprah someday.
Tell us what you can about your upcoming projects.
Without divulging too much because things are still under wraps, this week I’m filming a really fun comedic part on a CBC web series and then start shooting a mini-series that films throughout the fall. The parts are very much the opposite ends of the spectrum, which is super fun, and I’m working with people I really admire. I’m super happy right now! When I have a little time for myself, I’m trying to make progress on a feature script.
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