It is a core dream of mine, in fact: to inspire others to love, support and uplift each other. I am currently working on coordinating events to do just that! In the works are community clean-ups, family dinners, compliment corners, dance days, improv-a-thons, health & wellness days, fun in the sun events, etc. Everyone deserves peace and love in my opinion and I want to help anyone I can to achieve both!
As a part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Lenz. A Palm Springs native, Jessica grew up in the theater through experiences with community theater groups, such as Children’s Playtime Productions and MusiKids, as well as with her schools’ drama departments from PSHS to UC — Santa Barbara and went on to study in Los Angeles with Margie Haber, Sam Christensen, Jona Xiao and others. Jessica has studied a wide variety of performing arts, from musical theater to improv to Shakespeare to Kabuki, and has developed related skills including dance, mime, and twirling. In 2013, she started her own production company, Stars In Our Eyes Productions, to give the starry-eyed folk around her another avenue to create without requiring big budgets and thus far, has successfully produced three seasons of a cannabis-centric talk show web-series called High Noon (rebranded to High Hopes in Season 3), which can be found on YouTube and IGTV respectively, and has two short films in pre-production.
Thank you so much for joining us Jessica! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you so much for including me in this series! I have been on this career path for as long as I can remember. I participated in my first beauty pageant when I was only 1 year old and I won a third place trophy that was literally taller than I was! Perhaps that experience gave me my craving to get back on stage under those bright lights. I’m not certain, though I do know that when I was 5 years old and heard my older nephew, Josh, was planning on auditioning for the annual community production of The Nutcracker, I just HAD to audition too!! I was cast as a mere mouse, but the experience was as monumental to me as if I had been cast as Claire! The acting bug had bit me and I was SMITTEN!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Gosh, so many interesting things have happened to me since I was 5! Let’s see…ONE of thee most interesting things to have happened to me since I began on this journey was the experience of being cast as the lead in a music video for BiPolar Junction and got to trash this office space that I had actually worked my very first job in Los Angeles in two years prior to that and had been rudely fired from. It was an extremely cathartic experience to tear that work space apart!!
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?
I don’t know that I would consider this a mistake that I made, but a mistake I fell victim to when I was perhaps 8 years old was a costume malfunction due to the parent helpers putting my dress on backwards during an exceptionally quick quick change backstage and sending me onstage without realizing the gaping open back of the dress was now in the front showing off all of my bits! Most people who’ve heard this story have indicated that had that happened to them they would have run off the stage wailing, but I already had a strong sense of “the show must go on” mentality at that point in my life and wasn’t the type to get embarrassed easily, so I simply grabbed the front of the dress, clutching it closed, and proceeded to stun the audiences with my transformative solo of “Hooray for Hollywood!” It was a slam-dunk performance that my mother still impresses people with over a decade later!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
To be completely honest, I’m not really working on much at the moment due to all of the production shut-downs amidst the pandemic. This interview is currently the most exciting project I’ve been working on and it almost didn’t happen because of technological difficulties. I am part of a coaching group for actors called Career ACTivate and that program has been keeping me busy and motivated and interested while “stay at home” orders have been in place. I have also been setting up my recording station at home to pursue more VO work, as I love playing around with different accents and weird voices and varied character types!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I am always meeting interesting people, even outside the entertainment industry! People fascinate me! Some of the most interesting FAMOUS folk I have met would be Floyd Norman, who is a legend in the animation world, Eugene Levy, who I made laugh with a solid Schitts’ Creek reference at the dessert table I was serving at, Megan Mullally, whose breasts I complimented before inviting her to stay at my mom’s in Palm Springs, and Kristen Bell, whose arms I literally sobbed in. As for those who haven’t reached their fame peaks yet, I have ridiculously impressive peers like Natasha Halevi, who went from helping save the world running an eco-friendly fortune 500 company to touring the festival circuit around the world with an all female horror team called Fatale Collective, and Kandace Caine, who is a London-American multi-hyphenate currently wearing all the hats for her new show, Kids Learn So Much, and Eddie Flake, who is always traveling somewhere to film something for someone new and awesome, and more that I could fill up MANY more articles with stories of. I truly have trouble keeping up with all these fabulous folk!!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Always maintaining a support system who reminds you of your awesomeness when you’re feeling insecure or at least one person who helps you see how much you shine when you’re feeling lackluster is critically important! Remembering to focus on and treasure the journey over the destination is also important and having patience is key. If you do get to the point where you feel burnt out, try conceptualizing yourself as a Phoenix and do what you can to reignite and rebirth yourself and keep going!
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
The bare necessities to thrive with, in my opinion, are sufficient DEEP sleep, ample nutrition, and creative outlets. Having a suitable mattress, strategizing a meal plan, and finding avenues to express yourself through are steps 1, 2, & 3 to a healthy & happy life. Additionally, participating in activities that soothe you is an important step in practicing self-care. The activities that bring me the most peace are dancing, singing, and interacting with (most) nature. I usually work at least one of those into my day, each day.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- …that figuring out your most marketable branding and putting that out into the world is more beneficial towards getting your foot in the door than trying to showcase all the different roles you could possibly play with the right styling. I definitely wasted a lot of my time incidentally confusing casting departments because I thought for so long that it would be more beneficial to showcase my chameleon-esque abilities than focus on one specific strong attribute.
- …that adding a slate shot to your Actors Access audition presents your submission before those with only an audition video attached. I just learned this in 2020 and I’ve been submitting with AA since 2013, so this whole time my submissions were showing up significantly lower than others and most likely weren’t seen often or potentially at all.
- …that Actors Access is best for targeting TV opportunities and Casting Frontier is best for commercial projects and Backstage is not the best site to solely focus on. I started my journey on Backstage, which I do appreciate because of the wide variety of opportunities, but I was under the impression this was the most used casting site (and I was VERY WRONG!!!) and I considered them top priority for far too long. All that wasted time/effort makes me cringe!
- …that figuring out which shows/production companies/casting directors you want to aim for and thus target will greatly help streamline your efforts. Most of my career has been treated with a “come what may” attitude and some projects have come, surely, but not the ones I desperately want and that is because I haven’t been specifically, nor solely, targeting those more desirable projects and have not magically found myself in one of those “right place, right time” situations.
- …that creating a headshot blueprint to use for photoshoots is supremely more helpful than simply hiring a well-reviewed professional photographer and relying on their expertise to achieve the looks you’re seeking. I wasted more money than I care to admit on headshot sessions that were not focused enough. I was not as prepared for them as I could have been and relied too much on the supposed “skill” of the photographers.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The Show Must Go On” quote has always stuck with me because I find it pertains to all aspects of life. Life goes on. As Jeff Goldblum once said, “life finds a way.” Realizing that, no matter what, life continues is a highly freeing mentality to have because it takes the critical importance off decisions that we make and turns our “failures” into speed bumps instead of road blocks.
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?
My parents are always my first to thank because they not only created me, but they also supported me fully every step of the way. They were at every performance, every recital, every rehearsal. They are my biggest fans for sure! Chuck Balegnorth and Richard DeHaven, the founders of Children’s Playtime Productions (CPP), as well as Rosemary Mallett, my “Drama Mama” teacher at Palm Springs High, were absolutely instrumental in developing my skills as a performer and also molding my being as a compassionate, creative, and expressive individual. I am certain I would not be the exact person I am today without their powerful, positive, and persistent influences throughout my more formative years.
You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂
First of all, thank you tremendously for calling me enormously influential ❤ That is an incredible compliment! It is a core dream of mine, in fact: to inspire others to love, support and uplift each other. I am currently working on coordinating events to do just that! In the works are community clean-ups, family dinners, compliment corners, dance days, improv-a-thons, health & wellness days, fun in the sun events, etc. Everyone deserves peace and love in my opinion and I want to help anyone I can to achieve both!
We are very blessed that 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. 🙂
Kristen Bell!!! Technically, I have met her before (twice in fact!), but neither times were truly one on one and were quite quick exchanges, so I would be honored to have more time with her: to pick her brain about her journey from The Polish Wedding to Frozen, to ask her how she overcame being initially told that she wasn’t pretty enough for the pretty roles nor quirky enough for the quirky roles, and to gain her advice about being a multi-hyphenate, especially between being an entertainer, an entrepreneur, a loving partner to Dax, AND an involved, supportive mother to Delta & Lincoln. She is my role model in career and in life and having brunch with her would be a wonderful, fantastical dream come true!!
How can our readers follow you online?
They can go to my website www.lenzinlights.com to see my latest footage and released projects and photos. On FB/IG/YouTube/Linked-In I am /jessicalenzofficial and on TW I am @theactress.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!