SAG-AFTRA | AEA | American Member of British Equity | Dramatists Guild

My life as an actor, writer, producer, director.

 

Either I have very good karma or great luck. My first cold call to an agency was William Morris.  Dan Stevens signed me.  (The best agent ever.)   My first job was starring in The New People, a prime-time series on ABC.  It wasn't even canceled when I was offered a starring role in a pilot, Shephard's Flock for CBS.  I always wanted to star on the West End in London.  I did, in a musical titled Dean.  I also worked on the fringe in Tennessee Williams'  Red Devil Battery Sign.   I wanted to be in a hit musical on Broadway. I did, No No Nanette.  I starred in fourteen plays altogether,

 

When I returned from London I guest starred on twelve television shows in thirteen weeks and appeared in a lot of films playing all sorts of different characters.   It was wonderful. I wanted to be a well-respected and sought-after actor and I was.

 

I worked a lot, long after the Hollywood expiration date for actresses.  Thirty-five is the definitive age when "Hollywood" considers actresses no longer viable.  When I hit forty-three,  I wasn't doing starring roles anymore and jobs were fewer and farther between.  I panicked! Then pulled myself together and thought, "I have to expand my skill set!!!

 

I started writing feature films and found that I loved it.  I couldn’t stop.  I was compulsive about it. I'm still compulsive about it.  I have to write every day or I  get cranky.  I never get writer's block and there seems to be an unending flow of ideas that sometimes just pour out of me perfectly with no editing.  (Very curious.) 

 

Four of my spec scripts were optioned but didn’t make it to the big screen.

Frustration set in.  I wasn't going to sit around while other producers didn't get my words on the screen.  

 

So, I wrote, produced, directed and accidentally starred in a short film,  Someone to Love.  I didn’t intend to star in it, but the actress who was supposed to play that part, didn't show up.  So, I asked my wonderful DP, JP Pearce, to line up the shots while I memorized the part. 

 

“Someone to Love” screened at Cannes to a standing room only audience in the short film corner and went on to win eleven Laurels in additional Academy-qualifying and international festivals but a short film didn't blast any doors down for me.   

 

So I  wrote, produced, directed and starred, with Golden Globe nominee Timothy Bottoms, in my full-length romantic comedy, "1 Nighter" which is in distribution on Amazon, Google Play, Vimeo etc,  It gets up to 4.2 stars on Amazon - when I promote it.  When I don't, it has gone as low as 3 stars.  However,  3.0 is still higher than many of the big-budget studio romcoms.   It won twelve laurels on the festival circuit, including Best Romantic Comedy in the International Film Quarterly festival and I won Best Lead Actress in the Canada International Film Festival.  1 Nighter is a lower than low budget indie and  I'm very proud of it.  It won all those awards because of the story and a wonderful group of actors. Timothy Bottoms, Guile Branco, Isidora Goreshter, Jim Frievogel & Marrissa Skell.

 

Last year, Guile Bronco, and I shot a sketch comedy show title Jill Jaress Unleashed.   It's totally over-the-top silly.  I play eight different characters - sometimes in the same scene and Guile plays my friend and trainer in all of the shows.

 

This year we're breaking out of the comedy only mode and jumping into mainstream films with our next feature.  It's an    

uplifting woman's empowerment dramedy about losing love, gaining strength and finding joy.  The script is completed and it's won-der-full.

 

Thank you for reading all the way to the end.

Cheers,

Jill Jaress