Toronto based actor Jessica Danov has been performing in some way or another since she was old enough to dress herself . From singing for the bus driver and his passengers every morning on the way to daycare, founding the drama club at her arts deprived high school, to fearlessly tackling the role of Stephano (the drunken butler) in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Jessica always knew that acting was what she wanted to do when she grew up, she just didn’t know the best way to go about it.
Enter Fanshawe College and their two year intensive Theatre Arts Program. The teachers’ approach to the craft immediately clicked for her and inspired a new level of commitment and perseverance.
Since graduating Jessica has sunk her teeth into a wide range of roles including Tyler in Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s), Hero in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Natalie in Jennie’s House of Joy (for which she received a stellar review) and Betty in the feature film The Weight.
Most recently, she can be seen in “Pick“, a short drama about a young girl who wears her afro to school on picture day and must deal with the unexpected consequences.
We had the opportunity to chat with Jessica about her role, what she hopes the audience takes away from the film and what’s next.
Kat: You play the role of Alliyah’s single mom, how did you prepare for your role? Did you find any commonalities between yourself and your character?
Jessica: Actually, finding commonalities and differences was a big part of my preparation for the role. In doing so I found more similarities than I expected and that really helped bring the character to life for me.
Kat: Was there anything about your role that was particularly challenging?
Jessica: This was my first time playing a mom and as I’m not yet a mother myself, I thought that may pose a challenge, but I very quickly found that what I was able to relate to very deeply was how difficult it is to see someone you love struggling and being unable to help them. I think most of us have experienced that at some point in our lives and audiences will be able to relate
Kat: What was your favorite scene to shoot and why?
Jessica: My favourite part of my scene with Alliyah (played by Hazel Downey) was when I’m trying to lift her spirits and self-esteem by telling her how lovely she looks. There was a very sweet, but sad moment as Alliyah puts on a brave face for her mom, but it is so clear that she is going through something that she can’t or won’t put into words. Hazel is a fantastic young actress to work with and gives so much with such ease and our director, Alicia K. Harris, was so fantastic with guiding us while also leaving space for the moments that organically came out of our work.
Kat: What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
Jessica: I really hope that this film raises awareness and encourages the conversations necessary to facilitate change. While my characters’ struggle is not being able to help my daughter, the bigger issue being brought to light is the myriad of microaggressions black women have faced growing up and continue to face today in relation to their hair and appearance. This is such a fantastic film and I believe it is helping start those conversations and that the team behind Sugar Glass films are going to change the world with their work. I’m so honoured to have a front row seat to watch them do it!
Kat: Is there a type of character that you’d like to portray, that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
Jessica: Ooh yes, definitely!! I would love, love, love to play a villain! It would be so fun to have a really dark, morally questionable, powerful character to sink my teeth into. I also hope to get the opportunity to portray a really playful, kooky character on a sitcom.
Kat: What’s next?
Jessica: A short film I wrote, produced, and acted in, ‘Unlatched’, is in post-production and will be headed for the festival circuit soon. I’m also beginning prep for my role in a feature, where I’ll get to sing and play the guitar a bit, which I am so excited for! Part of the reason I pursued acting professionally stems from my experience performing musicals in school so I’m thrilled to revisit storytelling through song. Aside from that, I’m open to whatever the universe brings my way!
For more on Jessica, please visit: http://jessicadanov.com