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True Blood to True Love: Jessica Clark's Evolution as an Actor and Advocate



Jessica Clark is an out queer actor of projects such as True Blood, Alien Harvest and the film A Perfect Ending. Now she brings us her latest project Coming Out for Love, the first US dating competition show focused on queer women, 16 women who love women. And one romantic lead all live under the same roof in the Palm Palace of Palm Springs.

 

Listen to the full episode here.

 

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ON THIS EPISODE

[01:07] Jessica Clark on what she's most passionate about

[03:20] Jessica Clark on where her passion for social justice came from

[04:36] Jessica Clark on getting into modeling

[11:03]  Jessica Clark on her experiences as a multi-ethnic model

[14:01] Jessica Clark on dealing with rejection

[19:55] Jessica Clark on how she got into acting

[28:11]  Jessica Clark on her first acting break in "A Perfect Ending"

[30:56] Jessica Clark on having an impact on the LGBTQ+ community through her work

[34:56] Jessica Clark on playing Lilith on "True Blood"

[45:04] Jessica Clark on the reality show "Coming Out for Love"

[00:25] Jessica Clark on her dream for herself and her dream for women

 

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Passionistas: Hi. We're sisters, Amy and Nancy Harrington, the founders of The Passionistas Project, where we give women a platform to tell their own unfiltered stories. On every episode, we discuss the unique ways in which each woman is following her passions. Talk about how she define success and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.

 

Today, we're talking with Jessica Clark, an out queer actor of projects such as True Blood, Alien Harvest and the film A Perfect Ending. Now she brings us her latest project Coming Out for Love, the first US dating competition show focused on queer women.16 women who love women and one romantic lead all live under the same roof in the Palm Palace of Palm Springs. So please welcome Jessica Clark.

 

Hi. We are so excited. We are reality show junkies, so we can't wait for the show.

 

We like to start each interview by asking, What are you most passionate about?

 

Jessica:  Social injustice really is is something I get very, very passionate about, intersectionality, you know, really people understanding that, like, we're all multi-layered and and I know no one part of us is a monolith, you know, because I'm brown, I'm a woman, queer, I'm an immigrant from the UK, but they don't count me because I'm from a rich country.

 

You know, I'm a creator, I'm an actor. I'm also an entrepreneur with our tattoo studios. So I guess all of that, that kind of thing. I don't know if that, you know, the the Coming Out for Love show that you mentioned. The thing that made me really excited, too, about the possibility and hosting it was to within that framework, of course, of like beautiful, amazing, interesting, fabulous queer women also sort of delve into those issues, you know, So they experience of Michelle on our show, who is a queer woman, but also a deaf woman, you know, and how those things intersect in how her life is, you know, to be a queer woman in the Asian-American community where, you know, their original cultures, you know, it it it can be a very different process coming out. So all of those things, I was like, this is such an amazing opportunity because representation matters. Representation works, you know, like statistics. Lee They know that they've seen it. And so I think there's just something so powerful about coming into people's living rooms.

 

They can process things in their own time, but they're meeting people and listening to conversations that these people are having with each other that they may never have thought of, you know? And so I, I just get excited by that potential.

 

Passionistas: Amazing. So is this passion for social justice something that you learned at an early age? Was it something like in your childhood that you experience started to develop over time?

 

Jessica: No, I definitely was like that in childhood. You know, I had a I have a very smart mother. I don't agree with her a lot of the time. But she's very smart and very well read. And so we used to have conversations and debates like pretty early on and then just the circumstances of my life, you know, my dad's a loser. My mom raised us, you know, we went in and out of poverty. And so you experience that, you know what it is to be a child of that. I've also, you know, like there was just a lot.

 

Raised by a single mother, the eldest child, saying what my mother went through in terms of, you know, employment opportunities and all of that and how differently you are perceived as a brown or black family versus a white family in the same circumstances. So so yeah, I think it I think it happened early on. Definitely. I don't remember not caring about that.

 

Passionistas: And so when did the interest in modeling happen and how did that come about?

 

Jessica: I didn't have any interest in modeling at all. I basically my whole childhood, well, when I was really little, I wanted to be a professional horse rider. I hadn't had a narrowed it down to anything more specific than that. And I wanted to be a ballerina. I'm I'm six foot tall almost. So that wasn't going to happen. And a writer, which I am and I do write honestly, I wanted growing up, I wanted people to know that I was smart. I was like, Hey, I'm smart. Like, I don't.

 

I'm not that I don't want to be pretty because obviously pretty privilege is so real and it's very easy for someone that has made her living off her looks to be like, looks don't matter. Of course they do. And how we're treated in the world. Of course they do. But I very much wanted to be thought of as smart and intellectual, and I wanted to be a barista, which I'm sure you know, but for the benefit of some of the American listeners in the U.K., practicing law is divided into two professions.

 

So you have your solicitor who is the person that interacts most with the public, and you go like a regular attorney, and then the barista is given that case and they take it into court and they do all the like fancy legalistic arguing and whether wigs cause they still wear the wigs, it's kind of epic. England It is.

 

I mean, everything. Like if you really take a step back from the rituals in England, you're just like, Wow, Like, we've really been around for a lot. We're still doing that. Wow. So that's what I wanted to do and I wanted to do a human rights law was what I wanted to do. And the modeling really came about because there was a competition on this trendy national breakfast show in the U.K. and it was Find Me a model competition.

 

And we used to watch every morning when we were getting ready for school and they had a prize. And remember, this is like over 20 years ago, the prize was £3,000 for the winner and £2,000 for the person that nominated them. And so my siblings, you know, they're like, you should go. You should go. And I was like, No, no, no, no. And then the day of I was like, Or maybe I should go. And I won it. So I went. I fake my mom's signature. I did all of that. I won that round, had to go home and be like, Hey, so our fake your signature, etc., etc.. But if, if for some reason I win, then we get some cash money basically. And then the the finale was live on television and I won. I wasn't expecting to win. I was completely distracted because the that day was my math GCSE exam and I'm terrible at math, like I'm good at a lot of school stuff, but math is just like I got my basic arithmetic. I can figure out shopping built like that, but like that's as far as I go.

 

So I was just terrified the whole time. Not about the modeling competition, but about my math exam that I was going to be shuffled into right after. So yeah, that's kind of how it started. It's a very random start and then I was lucky enough that the agency that was affiliated with the competition was a really great agency, and they stole my mother agency. They're called Models One in the UK. And I would say that honestly, they're one of the few very ethical modeling agencies and they were very supportive of me staying in school and very supportive of my ambitions. And they were basically like, If you want to do it on the side and make some money versus getting like a waitressing job, then great.

 

So that's how I did it for a couple of years. And then I went to do my law degree, which in the UK you can do a law degree as an undergraduate. So I went to do the law degree. It was really interesting, but I still felt like a weirdo, like I felt like I was weird in school. I was just one of those weird girls that read in the corner and didn't have that many friends and, you know, was just a weird girl. And my mom and other people were like, it'll feel different, like when you get to university because you'll be with more. Like, it'll be your people, you know? And I just didn't didn't feel that. And, and I know now that it was because I had so much work I had to do on myself that made me so closed off. But at the time I was just like, I don't like this, that I don't like these people. I don't know what to do. And also became fairly disheartened by just the the negativity around being a practicing lawyer.

 

And I don't know at it freaked me out a little bit, I guess. And then after my I was in my second year and I just had this whole moment where I was like, I hate I hate this. I'm going to quit. And I just did. And so no one could really call me on it. I, like, immediately moved to Paris and started doing Runway because modeling is one of those things that people can logically think about it and be like, that's maybe not like the greatest industry, but what really happens is people are like, cool. Like, I would love to do that or I would have loved for my daughter to do that or whatever, you know? And so it just gave me this out, basically. And sometimes I wonder what it been like if I didn't take it. But overall, I'm really happy with my life. But yeah, it gave me an out and then I'm ambitious and competitive and then I was like, Well, if I'm doing this, I'm doing this, you know?

 

And then I modeled for like I think over it, over a decade after that, I was lucky.

 

Passionistas: So what were your experiences like as a multi-ethnic model? Were there additional challenges because of that?

 

Jessica: Undoubtedly, undoubtedly. But there was also, you know, things have language has evolved a little bit. But back in the day, I was referred to as exotic light, you know, So because I'm brown and I passed the diversity test or I did for many years, I made them pass the diversity check piece.

 

But I'm light skinned. You know, my features aren't too strong like my hair. You can blow it out and it looks okay. You know what I mean? I was like the easiest, like, least controversial, least ethnic kind of model they could cast. So I know for a fact that I got a lot of work because of that. And now I feel like it's changed.

 

Well, it definitely has changed quite a lot because even with auditions now, like, they want you know, they want African-American or they want somebody that's really Asian-American, They don't want necessarily want someone that can play them, that they're looking for more authentic representation. And thank God. But yeah, for a lot of years I benefited from that. But on the downside, yeah, I mean, it would be five or six white models and you offer runway shows, it would be 15 white models and you and one other, you know, so just like the from a numbers game, it was so much harder for us at the time.

 

Yeah. But there's also it's one of those subjective industries modeling and acting. They can say no for any reason. You know, there's not a linear path to success. If I do this, if I get that promotion, then, you know, this is an opportunity or I might get headhunted here. It's completely nonlinear and they can decide for the most arbitrary reasons if you are the person for them or not. So it's impossible to pin those things down, you know, because people ask me sometimes about, well, how did being queer and out like affect your acting career? Did it affect your acting career? And the answer is the same Yes, 1,000%. I definitely lost opportunities, but I also got some amazing opportunities because our community in media and film and television, you know, really does and has always tried to support and lift up its own within the framework of the very heteronormative industry. So I benefited. I lost, you know, it's that's life, right? That's life.

 

Passionistas: So how do you handle that rejection in both fields? Like, you know, it is both industries are industries where you really are rejected more than your get the job. So how do you handle that without it affecting your self-esteem?

 

Jessica: You don't there's no possible way, whatever anyone tells you that almost certainly lying. And if they're not, they're really young. Okay. So as a model. It was both extremely traumatizing because you're literally trying to restructure your body based on whatever is fashionable at the time. So but also with modeling, I could slightly detach from X to be like, okay, it's just my exterior, right? They're not responding to who I am as a person.

 

This has nothing to do with my intrinsic value. Like I'm still smart and feisty and ridiculous and all of these things, whether they like me or not, Right? But then also participating in in the awful system of starving yourself, working out too much, you know, being like, yes, I eat everything and no, you don't eat anything. And, you know, I really halfway through my career did a really hard switch from being very stereotypically, you know, starvation and cigarets and cocaine and all of this stuff.

 

And then switched into to at least what I felt was a more truthful way of doing it, which is I eat as boringly and as clean as possible, and I work out all the time. And at least then I felt like I earned it a little bit because people are very dismissive about the money you make as a model. You know, they're like, and my ex was like this. Like, it's so easy. you get paid for this. You get paid so much money for that. And I was like, No, I get paid to not eat. I get paid to sit in airports for hours upon hours by myself, and I get paid to be an amazing hotel rooms, but far away from anyone.

 

I know where the different language and on a different time zone. So you get very isolated and that's that's what you get paid for, in my opinion. And then with acting, I found I have found rejection in acting much more challenging. I mean, modeling, you know, modeling exacerbated an eating disorder that took a lot of therapists and money and time and stuff like that to heal from.

 

But with acting, I always feel like I pour myself into each character. And so when it's not received in even I don't mean even necessarily getting the job, but when it's not received in the same way as you intended, it can feel very personal. So it's taken a lot more mental discipline from me with that. And also that's part of why we made the decision to spend more time outside of Los Angeles.

 

I mean, COVID kind of sped all that up. But, you know, as you both know, because I read your bios briefly, you very much know it's a really tough town. It's a really tough industry, you know, and you can be doing really well. I was doing pretty well. And then nobody wanted to cast me for a while, like for a while, you know?

 

And so it's the highs and the lows and everyone's very competitive and, you know, my my equilibrium got off and then it's then it's harder to do great work, right, because you're shifting within yourself and you've lost your confidence a bit and you're overthinking or you're trying to anticipate what they're looking for, as opposed to creating something organic and maybe unexpected because it comes from you and not someone else.

 

I was kind of losing all of that and losing the joy of it, which is the risk, right? When you make it a business versus I mean, I would say to my wife, I was like, I should have just done amateur theater. They do great amateur productions. Why did I not decide, you know, like, why did I make it a whole business?

 

Like I went from modeling to acting in my insane, you know, like the first round wasn't enough. Still still don't understand that. So you get when you're creative, right? The choices happen every time I've tried that, not every time I've consciously tried to redirect my life and make it what I think it's supposed to be. I'm really unhappy.

 

And I have I have chronic depression my whole life, which is something that I live with. But it's really hard to be happy. It's really hard to just be okay, you know? And so I think because of that, I've sort of been forced within myself to like, I hate this, but live authentically like, you know, just live who I am.

 

But I did have to get out of L.A. for a while. And now I live part time here. And people, they don't care. Most of the time. They don't even know, you know what I mean? And that's been really good for me and working and working to build the Tattoo Studios High Art tattoo. That's been really amazing for me as well because I felt like I can contribute financially and also with their skills to something that, you know, is our family business that belongs to me and my wife.

 

So that I think has helped me recognize that, that I can be successful in different spheres. And they don't all have to be gunning on a level ten all at the time.

 

Passionistas: Let's take a step back. And what was that moment where you decided to switch from modeling to acting or transition into acting? And how did you do that?

 

Jessica: Okay. Well, the way I transition from modeling to acting, I, well, initially I had a model agent and he was a big fan of mine, and he was like, you need to be an actor. And I was kind of like, okay, like, I just got to New York. Relax yourself, you know? But he introduced me to Susan Batson in New York, who is this phenomenally gifted acting teacher, her son, as well.

 

Call they teach and just an amazing, amazing woman. And I was very lucky that he introduced me to her because she really changed. She saw me, you know what I mean? Like versus just being this, like, pretty model. And, you know, I was very modeling at the time because that was what was required. And she didn't I mean, she saw that, but she really saw like the girl that, you know, ran away from London that didn't really know what she was doing, but knew that she wanted something different.

 

And and she saw that and she nurtured that. But for a long time, it was just it was such a cathartic process. Like I had something to hurt all that confusion and pent up ness and trauma, which we all have and, you know, all of that stuff. I was able to pour into something and I had always done it in my writing.

 

But I feel like writing is another layer more personal than acting. You know, it would be modeling would be up here and then acting's pretty intense, but when you get to writing like it's there is nothing else. Like it's your words coming out and people can interpret them however they want, right? That's their right if you put out into the world.

 

And so I've always been terrified of that. And so with acting it was like this beautiful in between because I could pour this stuff in, but it was through a character. So I've always felt a level of protection because I'm creating a whole new person. So yes, I am form that person, but it's still not me, you know?

 

But anyway, okay, so that was the transition. So that's how I got introduced to like formal acting. And then over the years I was very much I'm very analytical and I would look around, I'd be like, okay, so the models are a little older than me. They do really well up until about this point, right? And then their incomes starts dropping off and then they hit this age and then they try and switch into something else.

 

And at least at the time, they were considered too old. Right. Too much development time for that for the time you get with the product. And I know you two know all about this, right? Like our affable time, like you know, the you know, all of that stuff, right? So I was like, okay, well, I got to like, cut the strings and jump off the boat like, sooner, right?

 

I have to anticipate the fact that I'm not a special snowflake and my career will tail off as well because I'm not a supermodel. And that's what happens. But I tried several other things before I let myself go into acting and nothing I, I found things really interesting, but at the time it was acting was really all I could focus on.

 

So I just sort of like gave it over in that sense, but how I started working. So myself and my ex had a blog way back in the day and we had a blog and a blog totally dates me and she would write about fitness, physical fitness, and I would write about, you know, my my journey before everything was goopy, right?

 

I was writing, you know, just my journey about my relationship with food and how it changed and what helps and what didn't. And, you know, I was really I was in good therapy for the first time. And I was really starting to grapple with the concepts of why I felt the way I felt, you know, versus just feeling and reacting. I was starting to understand what feeds all of that. So somebody read one of my blog pieces and for whatever reason decided that they wanted to cast me in their short film, which is called, "Sarah," which is directed by Stan Kantner. And so I got that acting job from my writing. And then that was filmed in a weekend, and they shot some behind the scenes stuff and we were doing improv, like in the passenger van that they would pack you all in for those small productions and they she posted it on YouTube. And Martha Sanchez, who is my manager to this day, saw this like 45 second clip and decided that she wanted to represent me, like she didn't know who I was or what or whatever, like it really short clip and basically sort of tracked me down by the by the fact you know, the LGBTQ family row and said, you know, whenever if you're ever in L.A. hit me up. So I did when I was working there and we had lunch and I very much said, listen, I'm I don't know if you know, but I'm out. Like, I'm like, I'm pretty out and I don't want to go back in. So I don't know how that's going to affect you wanting to represent me.

 

And turned out she was a lesbian herself and very much a power lesbian. And she said that's one of the reasons why I really love you as a talent. And I think we do great. She's like, So if you're ever in a position to legitimately work in L.A., let me know. So a month later, I call her up.

 

I say, I just moved into an apartment down the street like I'm here. And she was like, Holy shit. Because apparently that's how I make decisions. And we've been together ever since. Like, she's represented me ever since. And I love her and she's amazing. And I think we have a great working relationship and I trust her. And she's ethical, you know, like she's somebody that understand words and even if she doesn't understand, she'll accept if something's not for me, you know, versus try. I mean, in the beginning it was a little weird because I was very I was young and very pretty, and I had all this hair. And so I was always getting called in for like the brand new and the hot girl and the, you know, the the object of the lead's like affections and all of this.

 

But in reality, I'm very tall. I'm like, five, 11 by ten and a half. But 511, I have a very deep voice and my physicality. When you meet me, I'm like, not shy. I'm retiring. Like, I'm quite a presence for good and bad. And so my picture did. And what they thought they were getting wasn't what they were getting, you know?

 

And so that was very disheartening for a while. And it took her a minute because she just saw not just that she was like, how can they not want to cast you like that? Like look at you. And they'd be like, But they don't. You know, they don't because I'm bigger than the actor, you know, acting Male actors are really smart a lot of the time.

 

But once we kind of got through that hurdle and kind of found my rhythm, yeah, it's it's been great. I've been really lucky to have her. So that 45 seconds clip on YouTube was how I got into professional acting.

 

Passionistas: That's absolutely incredible. What what a great story. So then what was your your first kind of like, big break? What what sort of put you on the map? Was it A Perfect Ending or is this something before that? 

 

Jessica: It probably, yeah, it was  A Perfect Ending. It wasn't the very first thing I booked. I actually booked a part in a sitcom pilot, which was super fun, and I had never thought that I was funny before, so it was really interesting and it opened up comedy for me. But then, yes, it was a perfect ending because, you know, Nicole Conn, who is the writer, creator and director, you know, she was already established, but very much so, and had been making Lesbian women led feature films for many years.

 

And what's funny is we actually, myself and my ex, we were Outfest and we watched a previous film called Elena Undone and my partner at the time was like, You should be in her movies. And then as it turned out, her very next project, she cast me in her movie. See what I mean? Like sometimes being who you are works for you. You know, I went and met and met them at their house, her and her partner at the time, and Barbara Nevin, who had been cast as the other lead and did a chemistry read there and, you know, and got the part.

 

And that film has become such a, I guess, classic can you call it classic? After ten or 12 years, it's become a I can okay. It's become very much a classic in the lesbian queer women sort of romance canon. I still get people writing to me today about it. Like literally, like almost every day someone will message me on Facebook, I'll get messages on Instagram, like, I'll get things.

 

And this is from a film that I did so many years ago, and Nicole gets it as well. And it's about a woman that's never had an orgasm. Right? And so her friends set her up with a female high end escort because they were like, listen, if nothing else, like, they you know, they have the manual kind of thing.

 

And so many women identify with the healing that the characters go through and go through together. And so many I say older women, so many women versus girls have come out over the years because of this film. And I say that because they write and they tell us, you know, so. So yes, I think definitely 1,000% in my community and somewhat in the wider industry that that put me on the map as a as an actor.

 

Passionistas: What does it mean to you to have that kind of impact on your community

 

Jessica: It feels like a gift, you know. I mean, it really feels like something that's been gifted to me because I just I feel it was a great experience filming it as well. Really great. Which I now know is not always the case. So as an actor, as a person, I was so nurtured in it in its creation. And then to for it to just have this love and response from people just feels really special.

 

Early on, I think I felt a little pressure, you know, to be something that they wanted me to be or to be the character that they had fallen in love with Paris and, you know, not wanting to disappoint my community and do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing or anything like that. But now I'm a lot more grown up and I personally I don't believe I could or should speak for our community because we're not a monolith.

 

Like we're so different. Like there's once again, intersectionality, right? There's 100 other things that go into making who we are, Like just because we're LGBTQ doesn't, you know, I've met hyper conservative LGBTQ people who I just don't agree with on any level. Only similarity is that we're not heteronormative. Like, that's the only thing you know. So I consciously work to release myself from that pressure, and now I'm just grateful.

 

I'm grateful to be in something that still touches people. I mean, like I was going, you know, between the studios when you have auditions and things like that, and sometimes if you're lucky, they give you the shuttle thing that shuttles you backwards and forwards from your car, right? You know what I mean? So one day randomly, I'm going in to audition for whatever big role that I didn't get.

 

And and I get on the shuttle and the driver who is this older gentleman, Latin gentleman, clearly heterosexual.

 

When is like you're in the movie. You're in the movie. Me and my wife, we love that movie. It's your favorite movie. And I was just like, you know, how amazing is that? First of all, you know that you can create something so specific, but because the characters experience something so real and connective between them that it impacts people where it's not even there, they're not seeking that community and like, I remember that feeling much more than not getting that big job, you know what I mean?

 

So that's why I'm so grateful for that kind of energy and that kind of gift. And lots of actors never get appreciated, you know, like there's the top 5%, right? But like a lot of other working actors, like, they never get that because even if they work their whole career and they do guest after guest after guest star and they actually make a good living and they're legitimate, but nobody would necessarily recognize them because they move from project to project, which believe me, sometimes I wish I could, but, but yeah, to be an actor and to have something that people remember you for, I know it's not that common.

 

You know it's not that common. And I'm something that people love versus someone they character that they love versus a character that they hate. So that's a gift, right?

 

Passionistas: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so now let's circle back to speaking of characters that people remember you for. So you were on True Blood. So tell us a little bit about that experience.

 

Jessica: Okay, So I was a huge fan of Street Labs, like way before the possibility of me being cast. I love Alan Ball's work. I think it's just exceptional.

 

And for me, True Blood like it he he writes it as I'm probably not going to the word right isn't is an allegory so you know all that is is that the word not sure because all the different like the werewolves and the vampires and the fairies and things, they're all representing different ethnicities and different groups that exist in society and the prejudices that are forced upon them or assumed about them, and, you know, all of that kind of stuff.

 

And so I was just fascinated. I mean, he was he was touching on immigration. He was touching on, you know, the HIV crisis and the you know, there were so many elements that he was weaving through this story that you could enjoy on the supernatural level, on the acting level, on the social level, it was just you could watch it just because it was sexy and it and it was the one that kicked off. Is it Corner is HBO, you know that guys remember that. Like, I believe that started with True Blood, but so there were just so many different ways that you could respond and view the show. And so I thought it was I just thought it was amazing.

 

And actually, once again, this is a story of my community uplifting me. I was at a different it was a different year, but I was Outfest again because I just love to see films and projects and, especially for my community, because it's so hard to get things made. I have so much respect and then I ended up in this.

 

I tried to go home afterwards because I get very overwhelmed with lots of people and the friend I was with was like, No, no, no, come to dinner. Come to dinner. We're going to dinner with like some fun people, etc., etc.. Well, one of those people was Angela Robinson, who was a producer and then became an exec producer and writer producer, exec producer on True Blood. And so we end up having this whole conversation. We're debating one of the movies. I'm very opinionated. I know you can't tell, but I have lots. I have lots of thoughts.

 

So I got kind of passionate about it. I was like really presenting my case and think she got a kick out of me and and was like, You seem you'd be a great vampire, you know, like you, you kind of have this, this, this vampire vibe, you know, tall, powerful, but also very like. And so she said, I think I think I have I think I have something for you.

 

And I got this huge monologue delivered a couple of days later via Martha, and it was for True Blood, and it was for a character called Lilith who is going to be the goddess of all vampires. So I learned this huge monologue. I was absolutely terrified, but still terrified in the waiting room. I went in and it was Alan Ball and all the execs, which I was not expecting.

 

I was not expecting that. Like I thought it was going to be a reader, you know what I mean? Like, I'd never jumped. I'd never been put into producers straight away. Well, I guess I was the perfect ending. But indie film is different, you know? So this was like full HBO panel of people. And I was like, my God, I'm going to choke this. So bad. And as it happened, Martha called me. I had just walked out. I was walking down the street and Martha called me and they had given me the part.

 

So I now see, this is the thing, though. This is how my career started. Like, how great is that? Right? I got a sitcom, an LGBTQ feature film where I'm one of the leads. I'm second on the call sheet like Hello Spoils, and then I get to work on True Blood. Like that. Like, that was a that was that was I was like, wow, that's it's amazing. And then I had to fight for guest stars like everybody else for like, however many more years, which is how it goes. And that's paying your dues and stuff. But I was like, Damn, I started off so good. I should have appreciated it even more.

 

But yeah, so Lilith is very memorable for fans of True Blood mostly or partially because my appearance it was kept a secret. I was the big bad of the season. They basically swore me to secrecy, made me sign all these very scary NDA NDAs, so I really didn't tell anyone like I did because I was like, no NDA, that's serious, You know?

 

And so it was just myself and my partner at the time, and I had to keep it quiet for so long, like they wouldn't I couldn't go to the premiere in case people guessed anything like that. So her appearance, Yeah, like they were really hardcore about it because I guess True Blood fandom was really active, you know? So when I appear, the character appears like literally coming up in this pool of blood and I'm completely covered in blood.

 

And it's like this huge crowd scene. Literally, my phone was just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. But like, it didn't start for like three days. I didn't even know that many of my friends were fans of True Blood. They were just like, What? And then it also made me chuckle filming it because it was my first day on set.

 

So I'm there. And HBO sets like feature film sets, they're like amazing, like craft service, Like you get sushi and shit like that, like hello, like spoiled for any other crafty ever. I was like, I'm sorry, where's my steamed lobster with my green smoothie? Like, I'd like completely stop now. I'm kidding, obviously, but the craft services really are that epic.

 

So everyone's introducing themselves to me and they're like, Hi, I'm Stones. And in my head I'm like, I know, I know, I know who you are. I know who you are, but I'm being all cool or whatever. so nice to meet you. Blah, blah, blah. And then my scene they had said, was going to be a closed set.

 

It was a closed that however, they still had to be like 30 people there because it was a party scene. So I'm completely butt naked right there. I'm up on this little stage because it's this little engagement party or something was happening. So I'm on this little stage and I'm literally crouched but naked, crouched down in a little ball.

 

And then I had to, like, stand up and be like a maker. And I wasn't I mean, I was mortified. And also I wasn't mortified because, like, it's just a body, right? Like, it's fine. And they had asked me like 100 million times, Are you sure you're comfortable with this? Like, this is going to be required. You're going to have to do nudity, but it's non-sexual nudity.

 

And I was like, well, non-sexual is a completely different animal to sexual, in my opinion, for myself as a performer. So I was like, no problem. Didn't really realize I'd have to do the crouching stand that felt like little more of a reveal than I was expecting. But once again, I didn't in any way. So I don't want it to sound like I felt pressured.

 

I didn't. I was totally like present in there, but I was learning a lot more because closed set means nobody that's not essential doesn't mean there's not a lot of essential people. So do I do the scene? It's pretty. It's very fun, actually. It's super fun because, you know, you have Alexander and people like that like reacting to you and you're like, okay, this is kind of bad ass, you know?

 

And then after that scene, they were all coming out to me, kind of like high fiving me and stuff and being like, Welcome to Trueblood. Because apparently once you had your first naked scene like you are, you were like part of the tribe. You've never seen actors eat so while on a set because literally like any week, any of them could have had to get naked and they all knew that.

 

So I think that's why they were given such expensive crafting, because they were like, Let them have it. Let them have something all they can eat. It's greens and protein. But yeah, it was a great experience and it was very, very fun to be a part of a fandom that I had so much respect for, you know, So but I was mostly a fan, honestly.

 

So yeah. And then I was lucky enough it was just supposed to be one episode, but I guess they liked me. So I had multiple episodes and I appeared in the following season as well. So yeah, it was a it was a great, weird, intense, funny experience. And I learned a lot because, you know, they're shot on huge soundstages. And in, in my second season there's this when I basically force myself on the fairy, that is the bad of the next.

 

And so we're out on by this lake and you know I had a nighttime call and she had to speak Aramaic, which, you know, they give you this voice coach, but it's really hard to learn a language you've never heard before, you know, So and then I look out and they have this huge crane, like a construction crane, you know, hanging over, and it's all leather and it's all this stuff.

 

And they would just that kind of sat where they have that much money, you know, where the studios, when the networks are like, so invested in. It's a prestige project. It's just on another level. I mean, it's my I mean, I know you two know you, but I, I guess I knew. But like, when you see it in person, it's crazy easy, like how they create these worlds, you know, like, I was just.

 

It's so fun. I would say that the work in acting is auditioning, like getting to be on set. Like, that's a blast. That's make believe, you know?

 

Passionistas: I love that. We want to move on to Coming Out for Love. So tell us how you got involved with that show.

 

Jessica: Well Coming Out for Love is actually created and directed by Nicole Kahn, who cast in a perfect ending all those years ago at the beginning of my career. So, you know, as I said, we had a fantastic experience filming a perfect ending together. And she says that still it's one of her most fun times on on a set.

 

So we had a great experience. And so you just keep tabs on each other through the years. You check in, you say hi, you notice when each other has new projects. And then she came to me with this and asked me if I would be interested in hosting. Now. I tried hosting. Hosting was one of the things I tried before moving into acting and. I hated it. I really hated it because I'm a pretty serious person and I felt like they wanted me to be like, Hey, I'm Jessica Clark. And today we're going to be interviewing this person, you know what I mean? And like, that is not who I am, unless that's something that I'm organically feeling like I'm not like I'm just not. I love people like that.

 

Like I like I want I'm friends with people like that because I'm like, yes, give me all that. Like uppity Jews, give it to me. But so I hated, hated it. So when Nicole brought me the project, I really wasn't sure about that aspect of it. But what I was excited by was the potential of really, truly being able to do a dating show around centered around queer LGBTQ women.

 

I was like, They're really not out there. And even internationally, and the ones that are for the most part, well, I'm not going to speak to some of the ones internationally, but there were one I don't appreciate ones where they, for example, make lesbians compete with straight men for a bisexual woman, for I'm not going to name it because I know I'm not supposed to.

 

I also know we're friends with somebody that appeared on the show, and I've spoken to producers and the lead was very heavily encouraged to pick the man, shall we say. And so the entire thing was titillation, as far as I was concerned. And like Katy Perry's I kissed a girl and like, you know, all of this stuff, it just felt so diminishing towards us and, you know, us being a joke or an experiment or a phase or something to entertain yourself with.

 

When your last boyfriend a jerk, you know, like all of this stuff. And as I said before, I really believe that representation matters. And I was like, okay. But what if this was a show that really showed our community as we see ourselves in each other versus as how the the CIS Caucasian 50 year old male sees us? Right? So I asked Nicole, I said cynical. I said, Listen, the only possible way that I could attach myself this as essentially the face of the project would be if we truly brought true intersectional diversity into the show. I was like, because I can't, as a brown, mixed race immigrant woman in my community, like, I cannot stand in front of, you know, 15 white or light skinned femmes with long hair and long nails and then one slightly androgynous, you know, like, I can't do that. Like, I won't do that. And Nicole really was so open, like, immediately she was like, I don't want that either.

 

She's like, I'm trying to avoid that. But it's so hard. And, you know, we filmed it during COVID and it's one of those things where casting was sort of being cast by, you know, the fishing net of like fanning out through the community. Right. And because a lot of their established base were, you know, cis, Caucasian, queer women, they were having difficulty having access to or having the opportunity to to recruit a more diverse cast.

 

So I was able to kind of put that into action because I while I'm not great on social media, I have a lot of friends who are amazing on social media, and so they kind of pumped it out and we started getting these really interesting people submitting and I was like, Okay, okay, we can do this. You know, this is going to be something because I said so.

 

I said to Nicole and some of the other producers, I said, I understand that as a Caucasian, it seems like diversity. If you see one or two nonwhite people, like that's not diversity to us. You know, if we look around and everyone is Caucasian, then it's a Caucasian gathering. It's a Caucasian show like it's not we might be there, but it's not representing any of our cultures.

 

You're not getting any, you know, So so we really went all out with that and we got very, very lucky because it would be remiss of me to imply that we absolute cast them because of these factors. But our contestants, the women are just really interesting, smart, from very different walks of life. We have a single mother. We have, you know, women that live in small towns in the south versus living in Los Angeles with such an established community.

 

We have a woman from Ukraine and who comes out to her conservative Ukrainian parents during the show. We have multiple people coming out and that actually originally Nicole wanted it to be the lead coming out right. And going on this dating journey. Now, Nicole conceived of the show 15 years ago and it's evolved. You know, the community has evolved a lot since then. And I felt that it wasn't I felt that that if you're not currently out. And then to come out on television and be expected to immediately understand a whole other community, you know, like we call when you first come out, it doesn't matter if you're 55, you're a baby gay, you know what I mean? Like, you're a baby. You're starting a whole new life in a whole new community while keeping whatever other identities you have.

 

But it's a whole new world. And as similar as love and dating and all of those things are, they're also different, you know? And there are different red flags and, you know, women loving women relationships can be extremely intense in a way that is not often replicated in the sort of hetero mainstream culture. So so we felt that that maybe would be that wouldn't be more sensational than a genuine representation of who we are.

 

So we didn't, in the end decide to have the lead necessarily have to come out. But what happened organically is that we had women apply to be on the cast, that that was something that they had been wanting to do. And so they really personally took those opportunities, that opportunity. And that's why I'm so proud of the show because something happens in the very first day where our lead, who's amazing, Amber, who's also a very has a very large social media presence, recognizes one of the contestants and she use had used prior in the previous year had used the M-word in a song on Tik Tok.

 

And then when informed that it's still not okay, even in a song as a Caucasian person, very much went on the angry defensive and didn't really take any responsibility and things like that. Now our lead recognized her instantly and so now as we're going to the first, what's going to be the first elimination, she says, I can't do this right now.

 

Like there's something I need to address. And so in front of all of the women and all of the producers and everything, and I didn't know specifically what was going to happen. I knew that there had been some recognition that And so, you know, Amber confronts Lundy, and what evolved from that with these amazing women was such an in-depth, thoughtful, emotional conversation about the ramifications, the consequences of language like that's still being used, however casually, however devoid of the original derogatory stuff, like it's still, you, you're still creating a PTSD reaction, you know, in the black community.

 

Like it it just is it's innate within a lot of them. And I'm not trying to speak for African-Americans and black people, but during the show, this is what was shared. So there were amazing points and perspectives come out there. But then also we have a lot of we have multiple Asian-Americans, we have Latinas, We have like a real spectrum of ethnic, ethnic diversity.

 

And they we opened up the conversation and they also had so much to talk about. And, you know, the colorism that exists and, you know, the the anti LGBTQ and the racism that exists within cultures, you know, all of this was talked about and brought out and it was so intense and so amazing that Nicole was basically like, we're throwing out the rule book, you know, and we're going to essentially like follow follow where these women are organically going, you know, because when they first arrived, I was like, my God, they're amazing.

 

I love them. But do we have a show? Because they're all so excited to see each other? And, you know, for some of them, that was the first time that they had been surrounded by just wonderful queer lesbian women, you know, because they lived in places where there are well, there are no more lesbian bars anywhere, pretty much. But they were in places where they weren't able to kind of be a part of a larger community.

 

So there was just all this joy and excitement and love and like chosen family stuff happening. And I was like, This is amazing. But also like, do we have a show? You know?

 

And then the conflict that arises is not manufactured in any way, but the conflict that came up like it's not petty, you know, like there's all the fun fluff that you want from dating shows as, you know, this mansion and this pool and the lead lives with the women in the same house. So there's late night conversations and hidden cameras and there's all that fun, interesting stuff.

 

But the conflict that arises is all conflict with meaning. Like Michelle, who is our contestant, that is also death. She calls all the women to attention and it's like you're going to listen to me, sorry, I shouldn't have hit it. Right. She broke. She calls all the women to attention and says, You need to listen. You need to understand that you're able as them, you're not even you're able as them.

 

You're not even understanding the environment that you're creating for me, that you're that I'm having to exist within this this isolation. And and I already feel this in the wider world. So for me to come into my my community, right, she's like, I'm part of your community. But if we're having a big conversation and people are chatting and you turn around and start talking to somebody else, to me, you've just dropped me in the middle of a conversation, you know, because I can no longer participate.

 

And you're not even aware that that's what you're doing, you know? And so she really kind of gives it to them, you know, and then you have the different ways the women respond and the different understanding that it gives them. You know, there's all of that kind of we have one of the contestants turns out and this also was organic.

 

I didn't know about it in the beginning. I didn't I didn't know about it, but not in the beginning. One of the contestants who was called Sterling, Victoria, she was cast before Ali was cast. As it turns out, the leaders, her best friends. So, yeah, truly, truly. And I was like, but this is amazing because this is the LGBT community.

 

Like we live in a smaller dating pool, even in the big cities, we all kind of know it. Not all, you know what I mean? Like, we kind of recognize each other. Like, let's be honest, we kind of do.

 

So they knew each other before, and I was like, okay, but this is also the dating world, right? Like, you may end up being attracted to getting into with your best friend or your best friend's ex or this or whatever. Like we're interconnected in a much tighter sphere than the mainstream culture.

 

So conversations come up with that, conflict comes up with that, because does Sterling have an advantage knowing Amber so well or is a disadvantage because she's friend zoned and potentially Amber is too scared to risk losing her friends, You know, so I feel like there's I just think it's a really great show. I really do. I'm not saying that because I'm supposed to or because I host it like it really, it's so fun, but it's so interesting and it's very real.

 

And, you know, there's discussions and high level toxicity with alcohol consumption, which is another huge thing in our community because, you know, it can be really hard to live life and then also be LGBTQ on top of it, you know, so all of the hard shit that everyone else has. And then also you're aware and may or may not be in a supportive environment,

 

Passionistas: We just have one last question for you, which is, what is your dream for yourself, for your future, and what's your dream for women in general?

 

Jessica: Well, I would say that my answer is the same for both questions. I one for all women. I'm for myself. Genuine freedom. And by that I mean the ability legally, physically, socially, but also emotionally and understanding within yourself that you can be whoever you want to be. You can do whatever you want to do like you don't like.

 

My mom, for example, says to me sometimes you're so brave, right? Because it didn't really occur to her a lot of women in her generation that you don't have to have kids if you don't want to. You know what I mean? You don't have to stay married if you don't want to. You don't have to get married if you don't want to.

 

Like, you can go get a job. You can go to a different country. You can stay home and have all the babies in the world. You know like. All of that is our freedom. There are choices. If you want an abortion, you should be able to get an abortion. If you want to go into higher education, that should be supported, encouraged.

 

There should be greater grants, there should be a wider social net, there should be more support. There should be you should have free or low cost medical care that isn't tied to you working a dead end job where they treat you like trash. You know, like, that's what I want. I want that for myself, but I want that for everyone because, you know, the other stuff is nice.

 

Good stuff is nice. But for me, if it's not right, it's just not right. You can't force I can't force that. You know, sometimes I wish I could, but I can. So, yeah, I just want women to be whoever they want to be and for that to be a reality and supported by society.

 

Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project and our interview with Jessica Clark. Follow Jessica on Instagram at The Jessica Rose Clark and watch her host, the first U.S. lesbian dating competition show and comingoutforlove.com. Learn more about her three tattoo and piercing studios at high art tattoo icon and on Instagram at High Art Tattoo. And be sure to visit ThePassionistasProject.com To sign up for our mailing list, find all the ways you can follow us on social media and join our worldwide community of women working together to level the playing field for us all. We'll be back next week with another fashionista who's defining success on her own terms and breaking down the barriers for herself and women everywhere. Until then,

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