JESSICA MORRIS TALKS ‘LADIES OF THE LAKE’ & BEING HERSELF 54

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.

For more information on Jessica Morris, visit her website or follow her on Twitter. Header photo credit: Tim Schaeffer.

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

STOLEN CITY TALK NEW SINGLE “LAST NIGHT” & ARTISTIC INSPIRATIONS 71

With Ireland’s globally successful music history – here’s looking at you, U2 and The Script – you might think that up and coming Dublin trio Stolen City would be feeling the pressure. Instead, the three friends, Sean, Dave and Ian, are paving their own way in the industry. With big plans in the works for the coming year, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with the band to find out more about their musical influences, their thoughts on social media and their dreams of touring the world.

TITL: First of all, please introduce yourselves and tell us a little about your role in the band.

Stolen City: We are Stolen City, we consist of 3 members Sean, Ian (Bailey) and Dave. Sean is the lead singer and rhythm guitar player of the band, Bailey is the drummer of the band and Dave plays rhythm guitar and mandolin.

TITL: How do the three of you know each other/how did you meet?

SC: Sean and Dave met in college in Dublin where they were both studying music, performance and production and formed an instant friendship that they never thought would turn into what it has. They started performing together as a duo early into the year and with continued success decided to form a band. They invited Bailey into the band and have been together since.

TITL: Which bands and artists are you most inspired and influenced by and how do those artists impact the music you make?

SC: We have so many different influences and bring so many different styles into our music. Sean`s influences mainly come from singer-songwriters and solo performers such as Foy Vance, JP Cooper and Gavin James. Dave’s influences are mainly bands such as Mumford & Sons, The 1975 and The XX. Bailey brings a style that mainly comes from his favorite band, Green Day, and he also loves Swing and big band music.

TITL: What would you say is your unique selling point as a band?

SC: Our unique selling point is our music. There`s nothing like it in the market today and it`s something completely unique to us and we are so passionate about it.

TITL: Is there a story behind your latest track “Last Night”? Can you recall where you were when you wrote it?

SC: “Last Night” is a song we wrote in early 2017 to put on our EP but when we recorded it and heard it back it was too special to us to just release it on our EP so we saved it to be released on its own as a single.

TITL: Have you an album in the works and if so, is there anything you can tease us with about it?

SC: We can`t say exactly what we do have in the works but there is something coming towards the end of this year. However we can tell you that we are spending a good amount of time in the recording studio and writing music this year.

TITL: If you could collaborate with any other band or artist, who would you choose and why?

SC: Oh god, that`s a really hard question to answer there`s so many incredible artists out there at the moment. We all have different answers Sean would love to collaborate with Gavin James, Dave would love to collaborate with Mumford & Sons and Bailey would love to collaborate with Green Day.

TITL: Of the shows you’ve played so far in your career, is there one that stands out? If so, which is it and why is/was it so memorable for you?

SC: Dave and Bailey`s favourite show was definitely a festival we played in Co.Mayo Ireland called “Band on The Strand” there was a crowd of over 4,000 people where we played a set of our original songs and got an incredible reaction and had the crowd so interested in the show we put on.

Sean`s favorite show was a more intimate gig we played on the main stage in Whelan`s Dublin. There was a sold out crowd on the night and we were the headline act. We played a full set of our original songs and had the crowd singing them back to us it was amazing and unforgettable.

TITL: For those who haven’t seen you live yet, how would you describe a Stolen City show?

SC: A Stolen City show guarantees to entertain – it`s full of surprises and fun. We are extremely energetic and really know how to get a crowd going. Trust us if you miss a Stolen City show, you are missing something special.

TITL: If you could play one venue, anywhere in the world, with three artists/bands living or dead, where would it be and who would be on the bill?

SC: Oh this one’s easy we would love to play Red Rocks Amphitheatre and on the bill would be Queen, The Beatles, Ourselves and Thin Lizzy.

TITL: Will you be hitting the road again later this year?

SC: We will be hitting the road again this year if all of our plans fall into place but we can’t say dates or venues yet.

TITL: You’re earning yourselves a considerable following on social media, notably Twitter. To what extent has that impacted/boosted your career?

SC: Social media boosts our listeners, fans, friends and also opens up opportunities for us all around the world because it has such a broad spectrum and such a wide reach it really is incredible and drives us to work harder and harder every-day.

TITL: Given the success of Irish bands such as U2 and more recently, The Script, do you ever feel any pressure to ‘have’ to follow in their footsteps and achieve the same levels of popularity and success they’ve earned over the years? Or, are you more a ‘let’s enjoy the ride while it lasts and see where it goes’ kind of band?

SC: We don`t feel any pressure at all to follow in the footsteps of other bands because we`re so different. We really believe that what we do makes a difference not just to us but to others and that’s all we can ask for. We work harder than anyone out there we push our limits and we are not afraid to take risks and we will hopefully make our own pathway to success.

TITL: Finally then, where would you like to yourselves 5 years from now? What’s the long-term objective for the band and what would you have to achieve in order to turn to one another and say ‘We’ve made it.’?

SC: In 5 years’ time we would love to be touring the world and we would love our music to be reaching millions upon millions of people. We are confident in what we do and we know if we push ourselves and if we work hard we will someday get to where we want to be. For us to say “We`ve made it” we would have to play a sold out show to thousands of people who know every word to every song, that`s the dream and that`s what drives us.

Check out the video for Stolen City’s new single “Last Night” below and for more information on the band, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Y.O.U.N.G. OPEN UP ABOUT NEW SINGLE “EXPOSURE” & SOCIAL MEDIA 68

With an array of artistic and musical influences between them, Manchester quintet Y.O.U.N.G. don’t quite fit into any particular genre, but they certainly don’t seem to mind. Having earned themselves a considerable following throughout 2017, largely thanks to their impressive live performances, the band are starting 2018 on a high – one that’s set to continue when the group release their debut album later in the year. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with rapper and keyboardist Ben to find about more exactly to chat about how the band came together and what fans can expect from them in the coming months.

TITL: How do the five of you know each other/how did you meet?

Ben: Jamie and Chez actually worked at a music studio. I met Chez’s dad when at a film festival with my uncle Wiggy, who did choreography for Take That and 911. He invited me down to meet the boys. We connected as mates and gave a few tracks a go. It felt great, but looking back these tracks were awful. Haha! We all agree! Eventually there came a time where we needed a drummer and a bassist, luckily for us we knew the two lemons for the job. Grae has known Chez from primary school, same with tom. We’d all worked for the company teaching kids drums in schools, all of a sudden we we’re all playing in the same building we all trained. It was like some fate shit.  We jammed it felt good, more energetic, so we became, officially a 5.

TITL: What would you say Y.O.U.N.G’s unique selling point is?

B: The combination of musical elements. I don’t hear rap on guitar like I want to hear it nowadays. Every rappers trappin’. Of course guitars and rap isn’t new. But the way in which we do it, I believe is unique. Come watch us I’ll show you!

TITL: How different/similar are your personal music tastes and how have you been able to bring those influences to the table in order to create your sound?

B: We like a lot of the same things, but it’s evolving all the time as we listen to new things. It’s not always what you think. For example, recently Chez has been listening to lots of reggae, whereas I have been jogging to Slipknot. Our sounds are slowly merging over each other over time. For an idea to get into a song we generally just go on the strength of the idea; you can’t turn up to rehearsals and start playing folk and talking about the Norwegian charts….but if the bassline gets me, then I’m in, wherever it came from! We all have to feel it or we don’t do it. It’s actually quite easy to bring our influences to the table, no one’s getting a guitar thrown at them for trying something in practice. We just try bring strong ideas to rehearsals, some things work, some don’t. The songs are coming together nicely at the moment though, I believe they always will.

TITL: If you were to say you sounded similar to any band or artist, which or who would it be?

B: I’ve read Lethal Bizzle vs Twenty One Pilots – I’ll take that, although I prefer to think of myself more rap-wise as a young Method Man with a sprinkle of Will Smith. Just a sprinkle. I can’t act.

TITL: Tell me a little about your latest track “Exposure.” Is there a story behind it?

B: It’s just about outing people who need outing. We all feel it.

TITL: Which song do you wish you’d written and why?

B: I don’t wish I’d written any song, that belongs to someone else. I’m sure we’ll have ours.

TITL: You’ve toured fairly extensively this past year – any favourite shows or highlights?

B: We did a Sofar sounds acoustic gig in a front room somewhere in South London. That was an experience, insence and Jeremy Vine sat cross-legged in the front row. We even got him on an improvised ”oooops there it isssss’, as we decided to do a song which I haven’t even done a rap for yet. Give me time fellas!

TITL: You’re heading back out on the road in February and March. For those who have never seen you before, what can they expect from a Y.O.U.N.G. show?

B: Energy, moments of madness, chaos, the proof of practice, all undercut with some off the cuff light hearted tongue in cheek.

TITL: You’ve also got an album coming out. Is there anything you can tell me about it? Any favourite tracks perhaps?

B: Just that we’re all very proud of it. Happy to be a part of it. Every moment in each of our lives leads us right to our first album release. Deeep! I’ll be weeping like a baby if it does well! My personal favourite track is “What I Gotta Do”, because the rap is easy to shout, and sometimes on Monday mornings, I like to shout.

TITL: What impact has social media had on your career so far? Do you think you’d have the following and support you do without it? How big of a part do you think it’ll play as you move forward?

B: It impacts it greatly. It’s nice to have a platform where people care what you say. But for me, it’s just a pathway to attract people to the music. If I wasn’t in a band, I’d really be trying to cut it out pretty much all together; when you are on there you aren’t here. It’s all about the moment for me, and sometimes social media can help you miss that. I know at least me and Chez wouldn’t mind being born with no phones and no internet. It’s nice on some levels, fans can connect easier, and so maybe it’s easier to feel part of something. However, it’s hard to say if the number of followers would be the different with or without social media. If people were still coming to the gigs I like to think word of mouth would spread. There’s almost too much for fans to look at now, everyone’s someone, everyone’s verified. I wouldn’t mind if it was just like, I won’t update you all what I’ve been doing all week, I’ll see you and 10,000 others on that park at that time and we’ll all talk about it then.

TITL: What’s the ultimate career goal for you guys as a band? Whose career would you most like to emulate and why?

B: We want to have enough money own a zoo together, with big giraffes and lions. Or maybe a coffee shop in Amsterdam if we can’t afford the zoo. Jay-Z and Beyonce. We 4 can be jay z, and Jamie can be Queen B.

TITL: Finally then, with so much new talent around, as we head into 2018, if you had to give music fans one reason to listen to you rather than your many counterparts, what would you say?

B: FREE FOOD FREE FOOD FREE FOOD. Now I have your attention, LISTEN TO YOUNG, the music will do the talking.

Check out the video for “Exposure” below and for more information on Y.O.U.N.G., give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Header photo credit: Carsten Windhorst.