Best known for her role as Jennifer Rappaport in One Life to Live, Jessica Morris had a very busy but successful 2017 and following the announcement that her most recent show, Ladies of The Lake, has now renewed for a second season, fans will be seeing a lot more of Jessica in the coming months. ThisIsTheLatest chatted with Jessica to find out more about her childhood ambitions, her thoughts on social media and her love of all things ‘cheese’.
TITL: At what age did you first realise you wanted to be an actress? Has that always been your ultimate ambition or did you have other career dreams going up?
Jessica Morris: I made the definite decision to become an actress at around age 16. Before that, I wanted to be a dancer and had taken classes since I was a young child. And I was toying around with becoming a psychologist. Studying human behavior is incredibly interesting to me and luckily that activity still exists in my acting life.
TITL: When it came to pursuing your career, which actors/actresses did you admire and was there one film or TV series that ultimately made you think ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do?’
JM: It wasn’t one actress or film that made me want to become an actress myself. I just always loved getting swept up in a story and imaginary world. The actors always looked so glamorous and free and I yearned to have an outlet like that where I could express all of the feelings that I had inside.
TITL: You’re perhaps best known for your role of Jennifer Rappaport in One Life to Live. Just how much did that role and the show change/impact your career trajectory?
JM: Well, it got my career started and I’m so grateful for that. I also learned so much about myself as a person and an actor. It helped to build my confidence.
TITL: 2017 was a particularly busy year for you, with December in particular bringing you to much wider attention thanks to two TV movies, A Christmas Cruise and The Wrong Man airing on December 16th and 29th respectively. Were you ever at all apprehensive about taking on ‘Christmas’ movie related roles given that they occasionally get a bad, or ‘cheesy’ tagline of sorts? What drew you to the roles and what was the viewer response like?
JM: I wasn’t hesitant at all. I love cheese! Who doesn’t? Cheddar, Brie, Christmas movies, bring it on! It got a great response and I think that sometimes people appreciate a light-hearted, easy-to-watch movie like that, that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
TITL: How did you get involved in your current project, Ladies Of The Lake? What was it about the show and the character you now play, Crystal Amhurst, that drew you in?
JM: I was offered the part of Crystal on Ladies of the Lake and I thought the character was so entertaining and that she had many layers. I was also drawn to the fact that the female characters became very empowered at the end, even if it was in a criminal way.
TITL: How excited/relieved are you now that the show has been renewed for a second season?
JM: I’m very excited to go into production on Ladies of the Lake season 2. It is going to be sexier, edgier and much more action-packed.
TITL: Of all the industry professionals/fellow actors and actresses you’ve worked with over the years, who do you feel you most clicked with and do you have any funny moments or stories from sets you could share?
JM: When you film a movie, or shoot a TV show, you become so close to the other actors and the crew. You see them every day for many hours and share emotionally intimate moments with them. Also, the adrenaline is pumping and moods are elevated because most people there are doing what they are most passionate about. So, after every production I feel like I’ve met my new soul mate or new best friend. But after the high wears off, you are happy to just stay in touch with some of them. Best case scenario, they actually do remain one of your best friends. Like Melissa Archer, who I worked on One Life to Live with, or some of my other best friends, Robin Sydney and Roopashree Jeevaji who I also met on set.
TITL: Are there any other projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?
JM: I’m just finishing up my second draft of a script that I will also star in.
TITL: How do you feel about social media, and do you pay much attention to what users post, both positive and negative, on sites like Twitter?
JM: I think that social media is a great tool for actors. Everyone has a right to their opinions but I don’t think it’s cool for people to post negative comments. I just don’t understand the mentality behind wanting to make someone else feel bad. It’s totally different if they are talking about the character. But if it becomes personal, I think it’s disrespectful and unnecessary.
TITL: What’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about you/your work?
JM: I’ve luckily gotten a lot of wonderful feedback from fans on social media. It’s amazing when they tag certain shows or networks, basically pushing ideas to try and help move your career forward. It’s way above and beyond and makes me feel so supported to have people that I’ve never even met believe in my dreams like that. It means so much.
TITL: What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps? What three things/skills would you say they need to master or acquire?
JM: I would say that they need to learn how to be vulnerable and open in front of the camera, but hard as a rock off camera. It’s a strange dichotomy. But finding that balance is key to surviving the industry.
TITL: If you were to win an Oscar and had only thirty seconds to deliver your thank you speech, what would you say and who would you dedicate the award to?
JM: I would thank the people who have had faith in me, even in times when I have lost it in myself. My mom, my manager, my friends who have encouraged me. There is a long list!
TITL: Finally then, whose career would you most like to emulate and what would you most like to be remembered for in terms of your work and career?
JM: I don’t want to emulate anyone. I want to be me. I want to be known for that. For showing a part of myself that hopefully makes people feel something when they watch me.