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Interview: Jessica Ross from PR to Hollywood; Crafting an Ever Progressive Acting Career

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Jessica Ross_indieactivity
Jessica Ross is an actor known Malibu Crush (2020), Italk (2020), Only the Best (2007)

Jessica Ross is an actress, publicist, and reporter. A native Californian, Jessica grew up just outside of Los Angeles. My first time acting was back when I was eight in acting class, although I did not start auditioning until my first year of college.

After taking time away until 2016, I returned to Hollywood where I began working as a host for online television network WCOBM. In 2017, I was on Fashion One Network’s Reality Series, Fashion Dolls which aired across 175 countries in over 400 Million households. Other projects include 15 Seconds Fame by Joyce Chow which premiered at Cannes and was shortlisted for the Oscars, highlighting businesses as a host for Big Review TV, presenting at the Hollywood Now Film Festival, reporting for Backstage Weekly, and being the LA Correspondent for Waves & Runways. Additionally, I was one of the keynote speakers for iTalk Philadelphia and hosted the Red Carpet at iTalk Los Angeles. Voyage LA, Cinderella of New York, Juwai, It Can By You, LiveIn Style Magazine, Buzzfeed, and CBS are just a few of the media outlets I have been featured on. After quarantine is over, my busy 2020 schedule is set to begin again with a starring role in the feature film, “Malibu Crush“.

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Jessica Ross plays ‘Bridget Van Ryan‘ in Malibu Crush (2020) by James Pratt

indieactivity : Did you study acting?
Jessica RossI feel that I wanted to become an actor when I was in kindergarten and I had the opportunity to watch TV shows being filmed live, meet the cast and visit the set afterwards. I didn’t realize that until much later, it was unexplainable since I was so young but I felt at home, like this is where I can see myself in the future. During my first semester of college, I enrolled in both speech and theater courses, and that is when I really became aware that acting was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At the beginning I was very nervous, and other times as soon as I began my scene, it felt like that all went away and I can achieve anything.

indieactivity : What acting technique to you use?
Jessica RossMethod Acting and Sense Memory are the techniques I utilize the most. When you believe what you are doing is real, your audience will believe it as well. I think method acting is straight-forward by being grounded with a foundation of integrity. You have to make an imaginary situation look believable by thinking about how you would react and using that as a basis to build your character based on their unique situation and personality. “Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. This is one of my favorite quotes because it’s simple yet says a lot – the goal is to appear so authentic that your audience does not have any sense that you are acting.

indieactivity : Do you take courses to improve your craft?
Jessica RossYes, I have taken courses to improve my craft. Two of my favorite teachers I have studied with are Brian Reiss and Bobbie Chance. During the coronavirus, I have been watching online acting courses on YouTube. When I have to prepare for a difficult audition or role, I prefer private coaching because it allows you to focus 100% of your efforts on your own work. I like group classes as well because they give you the opportunity to act on stage in front of an audience, discover what types of roles suit you best, and practice scenes with other actors.

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Jessica Ross strikes a pose with the famous Hollywood sign in the background

indieactivity : What acting books do you read?
Jessica RossOne of the first and best books on acting I have read is Acting in Film by Michael Caine. Although it was written in the 90’s, all the principles still apply today .Entertaining, informative with a dash of humor, anyone that wants to get into acting must read this book. Filled with valuable advice that’s easy to follow, Michael also talks about the entertainment business, inventing your unique persona and other important aspects of the field.

indieactivity : How do you keep fit as an actor: mentally, physically?
Jessica RossAs an actor, you have to learn to deal with rejection and stress while being composed at the same time. Your nerves can be the most positive thing without the help of someone else. It’s amazing what you can uncover when you are under pressure. I realized I was going to have to be confident with being uncomfortable and face my fears that I had .Criticism helps mold you to become better and that all is part of the learning process.

It’s easy to take things personally even though you shouldn’t but that is what gets you to the happy and dark feelings that you need to perform. Even the most famous actors get a little bit of nerves when they start a new project or go on stage. That’s why I learned it’s imperative I do my best to stay healthy in all aspects of my life.

I’m energetic, I go jogging, take exercise classes at the gym, and I am always busy so I don’t have enough spare time to overthink things too much after auditions. Mentally, it is important to understand different emotions, and all types of people in order to portray your characters accurately. I took several psychology courses in college- I think that has helped guide me to figure out the motives behind my characters actions and reactions. I find reading books or articles on acting, watching movies that feature actors I admire, and having other friends in the industry that understand you for support during all of its ups and downs to be very beneficial. On nights before shoots, I don’t go out and try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Acting is not a 9-5 job so having enough rest is necessary, you may start at 7 am and not get done until midnight.

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Jessica Ross as one of the keynote speakers for iTalk

indieactivity : How do you prepare for a role, when you get it?
Jessica RossI first read the script several times, then break it down and learn each scene one by one first. You should have your lines memorized before you begin filming so that you can focus all of your energy on your reactions and emotions, instead of being worried about what you have to say or if you missed something. For television, you do not have as much time to prepare as film so I memorize my lines as best as possible with the amount of time that I have.

indieactivity : How do you create a character from a script into a person?
Jessica RossI make an outline of my character’s life, to build a story from the words in the script. Do they go to school, work, and live in a city or small town? What do they do in their spare time? What are their personality traits; how they dress, where they grew up, how did they get to the situation that they are in at this time? A character did not just get to where they are in life during your scene, there were many years of events and circumstances that led up to it. After I create a story for my character, I ask myself how my character would react, not how I would react. You need to leave out your personal bias while at the same using your past life experiences to bring authenticity to characters emotions.

indieactivity : How do you stay fresh on a production set?
Jessica RossI review the script between takes, going over any questions I have with the director, stay hydrated, and eat during breaks as I find it difficult to focus if I am hungry. I always check in with the makeup artist and hair stylist for touch-ups. If it’s a very long day and we have several hours between takes, I will sometimes sit down and close my eyes for a half an hour to relax.

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Jessica Ross at the Oscars Gala

indieactivity : Explain one creative choice you took on set?
Jessica RossThe night before, I look at what my character is wearing in my scenes and try to bring some of my own clothes in case anything the wardrobe stylist has for me that day doesn’t fit. Sometimes it’s just shoes, others it’s an entire outfit. Every once in a while, I have an idea to add something that’s not in the script that comes to my mind as we are shooting. With each take and rehearsal, I get a better understanding of the scene which makes me think of different ways to express the characters choices and emotions. I always make sure to first discuss my ideas with the director and get their approval. Filming is a team effort, you have to be considerate of everyone, each scene costs production thousands of dollars to shoot and takes hours of meticulous preparation before an actor even arrives on set.

As a host for Big Review TV, I would help the director develop a realistic story about whichever business we were creating a video for. ‘For one segment, we were shooting for a car dealership that happened to be located across from the ocean. I came up with the idea to add a scene where I was driving one of the cars along the beach in addition to filming on the lot like what was planned.

indieactivity : Describe a memorable character you played?
Jessica RossI feel that my most memorable character is going to be Bridget Van Ryan on Malibu Crush because it’s my first role after the coronavirus. All of our meetings and rehearsals have been on our cell phones, Zoom, or Skype. I have never prepared for a film this way before and I feel it’s going to bring a completely new element to the production. As we are shooting the film in a new existence that no one was prepared for, my character will have to adjust accordingly.

indieactivity : What do you want most from a director?
Jessica RossI want a director that understands actors well, challenges me to take chances and communicates their vision before each scene so I have the information I need to make the best choices for my character.

indieactivity : What actor do you long to work with?
Jessica RossThere are so many talented actors I would love to work with – Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Rosario Dawson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rob Lowe, Emma Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Zac Efron, and Sofia Vergara to name a few.

indieactivity : Why this actor?
Jessica RossTheir careers have stood the test of time and inspire me to continually improve and challenge myself to become a better actor. They are all versatile, able to portray a variety of characters, and what I would learn from working with them would be invaluable. Having a lasting career in the industry is an accomplishment many actors don’t achieve. I worked with Zac Efron during one of my earliest acting jobs as a body double for Ashley Tisdale in High School Musical 3 and Rosario Dawson at an event- she had the most outgoing, vibrant personality and seems like she would be a joy to work with.

indieactivity : What advice would you give actors around the world?
Jessica RossStart by taking acting classes, then get good headshots and create a profile on a site like Actors Access which has casting breakdowns for projects all over the country and earn verifiable credits by booking roles in local projects. Do as much local work as possible and make sure you have a professional IMDB profile.

You need to take charge of your career by doing your own publicity, utilizing social media, building relationships with local media outlets, and putting yourself out there by attending events in your community. Remember there is no such thing as an overnight success, for most people it takes many years that’s why you must be patient and never give up!

indieactivity : Briefly write about your career?
Jessica RossMy background across many facets of the entertainment industry gives me a thorough grasp of what it takes to achieve success. In addition to acting, I have experience in casting, publicity, luxury real estate, and social media. I’ve appeared on popular TV shows, independent films and online outlets. Currently, I am getting ready to announce a new TV show and begin shooting Malibu Crush once quarantine is over. Although life may be unpredictable right now, I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and excited to see what my future holds!


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