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“I’d like to create a movement to encourage more generosity in our country” With “Shameless” star, Jess Gabor

I would create a movement to encourage more generosity in our country. If you discover you have privilege, then use your privilege to be…


I would create a movement to encourage more generosity in our country. If you discover you have privilege, then use your privilege to be an ally to those who don’t have it. A friend of mine once said, “you can never go broke from giving.” If one person just gave 2% of what they give to themselves to someone else, I think there would be a lot more shared kindness in the  world.


I had the pleasure to interview Actress Jess Gabor. Jess was born and raised in La Crescenta, California. She first got into acting because her mom, who works at Disney would always make her an extra in the films she worked on. Jess started acting in high school (yes she was that theater geek in all the plays) and her parents really instilled the desire for an education. They said she can go to college for anything as long as she goes to college. Theater it was. Her first acting job was for Criminal Minds during her second year of college where she played a drunk college girl (real method). This was followed with her “Notorious” guest star and her Lifetime film, “The Twin”. Jess got her Shameless gig because she did a play in her last semester of College called “Our Country’s Good”. One of the writers of Shameless came to the show and saw her work. Eight months later, she got an email saying he wanted her to audition as a recurring guest on Shameless. That turned into 9 episodes, so far. And the rest is history!

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thanks for having me!

Funny Story, my mom works in the industry and had me be an extra in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films. I think she wanted me to see how boring the set life could be, “look at all this waiting, you don’t want that.” But I LOVED it. I got to wear a corset at age 10! Once I realized I could make a career out of playing dress up, I was in for the long haul.


Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Sure! During my time at Loyola Marymount University, I was cast in a play called ‘Our Country’s Good’. I was unsure about doing it because all my time would be devoted to the theater and I would not be able to do any film or TV projects. My indecisive self eventually just said screw it, I might as well take the risk. Philip Buiser, now writer of ‘Shameless’, came to see the show because his husband, Marc Valera, was directing it. Eight months later, Phil emailed me to let me know there was a possible audition for a new character on ‘Shameless’. If it wasn’t for saying yes to this little college play, I would not be a working actor today. Who knew?

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh boy . . . so my first big TV job was for ‘Criminal Minds’. Previous to that experience, I had only done student films. So once I got on the set of ‘Criminal Minds’, I froze. Literally. I kept forgetting my lines. I remember the script supervisor came up to me at one point and said, “I know this is your first big thing, but you have to get it together.” Furthermore, I went back to my trailer to find out it had flooded because I put paper towels in the toilet. It was horrible! Lesson learned. Learn your lines so well you can do them in your sleep. And then do them one more time after that. And NEVER put paper towels in trailer toilets. Ha!


What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am actually about to fly to Chicago to finish filming ‘Shameless’, season 9. I play a strong willed, military brat named Kelly Keefe. She falls in love with Carl Gallagher on the show and the rest you will have to watch on Showtime. *winks*

I also just started a theater company called ‘Such a Death’ with a couple of very talented actor friends. We are focused on putting on performances of ‘4:48 Psychosis’ by Sarah Krane and ‘Angels in America’ by Tony Kushner this upcoming year.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I have to say that on ‘Shameless’, every actor is so incredible to watch and act with. Everyone always brings their A game not because it is what is expected of them but because they can’t help but do their best.

Specifically, I have gotten the pleasure and privilege of acting along side William H. Macy. Bill directed my first episode. In one scene, I had to play drunk. Bill is the king of acting intoxicated, so he came up to me and gave me a few pointers on the most realistic way to ‘be’ drunk. That may have been the best acting class I have ever gone to!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Make sure to take the time for self care and self love. In this industry, it can be so easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all. But it is important to stop and give yourself the love and attention you deserve.


You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would create a movement to encourage more generosity in our country. If you discover you have privilege, then use your privilege to be an ally to those who don’t have it. A friend of mine once said, “you can never go broke from giving.” If one person just gave 2% of what they give to themselves to someone else, I think there would be a lot more shared kindness in the world.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Be kind and learn everyone’s name.

My dear friend, Ethan Cutkosky, plays my love interest on ‘Shameless’. On my first day, I watched how Ethan said hello to everyone by name. He would talk to the grip about his summer vacation, while talking to the costume designer about her pregnant sister. That day, I thought to myself I want to be the Ethan Cutkosky on set. I want to make everyone feel needed and seen.

2. When starting, say yes to everything!

Even if the project may not appeal to you, there is always something useful that you can take out of the situation.

I did a short film called ‘Hot Seat’. I was nervous to do it because the material was raunchy and a bit provocative. But I decided to say yes because I trusted the director, Anna Kerrigan. What is the worst that can happen? The film won’t go anywhere or be see by anyone? Well oddly enough, ‘Hot Seat’ was selected to go to Sundance in 2017. The film got me auditions and jobs I never would have gotten if I had not said yes.

3. You didn’t book that, and thank God!

I can’t even count how many damn auditions I went on that I wanted so badly. But looking back, I am so happy I didn’t get cast because I would not have been ready or mature enough for any of those projects.

4. Turn everything positive.

Here is the thing, positivity will not only make you feel better, but it will make the people around you feel better. It is like giving everyone guacamole when they only asked for salsa.

5. Don’t compare.

When I first saw myself on TV, I didn’t like how I looked because I would compare myself to all the other gorgeous girls in the world. And that, my friend, is a lot of pressure. So instead of basing your beauty off the looks you inherited, base it off of how you present yourself in the world. You are beautiful not because of your looks but because how you treat people.


Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Never limit oneself”. We can do anything we set our minds to! I recently produced, wrote, and acted in my own short film called “Her Story”, a documentary style film following a girl and her addiction to Heroin. I never thought I would be capable of creating my own project. However, I have a few friends battling addiction and I felt that their story needs to be shared with the world. Film, TV, and theater are meant to challenge perspectives and that was my goal when creating “Her Story”.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am incredibly appreciative to my parents! They are 110% the reason why I am here today. But also the moment I found my agent, was the moment that changed my life. James (my agent and friend) has helped me shove open a whole lot of locked doors.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I would love to go to Vivian’s Cafe with a plate of potatoes and chat with the classy Meryl Streep. She has found a way to maintain her privacy, yet became an icon for American film. She is a huge inspiration to me.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow me on instagram: @jessgabor (Creative, I know!)

Originally published at medium.com

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