An Interview with Jessica Felice by Dean Sills
UKHS – Jessica, thank you for your time and welcome to UK Horror Scene. How did you get into acting and modeling and what is it about the horror genre that you enjoy so much?
JF – I got into Acting at an early age. I was probably 5 years old and at camp ..Ha! But I was highly influenced by my father (who sadly passed away in an accident during my time in College. He never got to see my film work) who also studied Acting/Broadcasting in College and we shared a love of the craft. Honestly I can’t remember ever not wanting to be an actress. I did community theatre and plays as a child which lead me to study acting and diction outside of school from the age of 13-18 as well as in HS where I also was in an improv troupe that worked on teen issues to help other teens. And of course did lots of theatre in HS and after. After that I took a few months off and toured with a professional Children’s theatre company across the states, did some dinner theatre and summer stock, and came back to College where I studied at UMBC where I received my BA degree in Acting (Theatre).
After which I did more professional theatre local as well as touring again, summer stock etc. I decided to try my hand at film acting after a few years doing theatre. While experimenting with this new playground, I discovered that, while I really enjoyed the live aspect (as well as linear aspect) of the stage, I also really, really found I loved the intimacy of what the camera could bring. I found film work to be very organic and real for me. So I started doing more extra work, commercials, TV, Indie films, student films, short films, whatever I could get myself involved in. In the last few years, I also have been doing some voice-over work as well (another fun medium) where I’ve enjoyed recording some commercials, a video game, advertisements for businesses as well as some industrial work, and even plan on doing a villain in an animated feature! I just love to act and perform. It’s kind of who I am. It’s a part of me.
I certainly do not view myself as a hobbyist by any means. I was also drawn to the craft of acting because I was painfully shy growing up and it sort of brought me out of that shell so to speak. I felt safe in that environment and still do. It’s so freeing to be able to explore these amazing women I get to portray. Sometimes I didn’t even realize I could but it’s like being on a playground for me, where I can express myself without limitations in a very safe kind of environment.
And honestly its also a bit of a high to be able to share that kind of intimate energy with other actors. I love this art so much. It’s the one place I feel at home, even if it potentially may get uncomfortable as some stories do. It’s about giving life to that character. It’s a beautiful feeling to be able to tell a good story with a very real and layered character who has something to say and more to give. I got into Modeling by chance, honestly I modeled once at the age of 13 and didn’t again until a few years ago after I did a show in Las Vegas (I worked in stage magic for several years). I did it primarily to again get out of my shell more. I find that if you are more comfortable in your own skin you will have fewer limitations. The more fearless a person is as an actress, a model, or in life in general I feel the happier they will become. Think about it if you have fewer obstacles that hold you back.
The more successful we can become. I think the more fears, doubts, and self loathing we have the harder it is to manifest into whatever positive people we may strive to be. I’m always trying to change that caterpillar into whatever colourful butterfly I’m supposed to become. I associate myself greatly with the Phoenix from myths. I’ve had many personal hardships and am constantly picking myself up out of the ashes and pushing myself to try to fly. Modeling for me was no different. It was a way for me to discover what was and is sometimes holding me back. We all have flaws but it’s also about embracing what others might see that we might not. So I started modeling sexy crazy some risqué pictures to get me out of the shy girl mode, and into whatever I need to be to make it in this industry as well as in life.
I see it as a very positive experience. I’ve modeled now for some alternative pages, a couture magazine, and now I just recently was seen in The Official Scream Queen’s Magazine (an online and physical magazine) which focuses on Horror and the Actresses in the genre being I’m starting to gain a bit of attention in that community they asked me to be their first pictorial and actress interviewed. I am very honoured. I do still consider myself to be more of an actress than a model but I find I have a respect for both arts. What I enjoy so much about the horror genre is that I have always been attracted to dark and mysterious things. Horror allows me to open a doorway to express the darkness within.
UKHS – Before we talk about your acting career can I just say congratulations on breaking two of Houdini’s most difficult escape challenges. Can you please tell us a little about your work as an amazing Escape Artist and how did you get into Magic?
JF – Thank you so much! I’m very proud of it! I forget how long it was but I don’t know if I could do it that quickly again, lots and lots of practice! Yes I worked touring in Stage Magic across the states, and worked doing some Escape Art like above’s mentioned Houdini Mailbag Escape and Straight Jacket Escape (trained by Shawn Anthony who was an established Magician before he became a director) as well as Assisting, I even performed a few small close up bits of magic in several shows (cabaret style).
I loved magic as a child and went to see David Copperfield when I was a kid. I thought he was the most alluring and magical person I’d ever seen. So I collected magic sets at a young age but then kind of stopped in High School. It wasn’t until much later when I became friends with a magician that he said you should try assisting. With your background in acting and your petite form you’d probably be great. So I tried it for a year or two, and started unfortunately to get a little bored and felt like something was missing…so he said let me teach you some of what I do…. So I started studying escape and small close up pieces and found I rather enjoyed it.
There is something very alluring about a woman doing what is commonly seen as a man’s performance art. I wanted to free myself (pun intended) of the binds of that stereotype and show a woman could be just as quick and as good, and the symbolism for that freedom was great escaping the ties that bind in more words or less. I worked in Vegas at the Royal Resort (in 2010) with Shawn Anthony and Christian Diamond as well as several mentalists and other magicians. The small theatre space was on the edge of the strip and so, I started doing escapes in there. It lasted for me for a couple of years touring to small and large houses, but then I started heavily getting back into acting and honestly that’s my first love but I always will have a respect for the craft of magic as well since so much does go into that art.
As in both forms of art practice is key. You have to always be your best and give 110%. I feel working in that environment helped me too (as well as working on stage before it) to be as disciplined as I can be. In 2009 I took a class in-between for acting for the camera and it was just kind of life changing for me. Though at the time I was still doing stage magic, my love of acting was sparked again and I honestly haven’t looked back but I am proud of my time in the industry.
I also had the opportunity to perform at the World Magic Seminar. I did enjoy assisting in the The Grande Illusions (Copperfield-like) and I got to do Metamorphosis there which is basically a beautiful illusion with a large chest where the Magician and the assistant change places after one is locked inside. It was very exciting and again a lot of work was involved. I feel this work has definitely influenced me.
UKHS – In ‘Manifestation’ you play the challenging role of Anna. The movie is about the death of the couple’s only child. How did you prep for a role like this and what were the main challenges that you faced during the shoot?
JF – I am prepping now for the challenging role of Anna. We haven’t filmed yet. It’s slated to film this September. This year, I watched a couple of films I was told highly inspired this film such as Antichrist and Possession. Both films are very bizarre and psychologically driven. I loved Antichrist it’s so disturbing the acting was so good and raw that I was drawn into it emotionally.
My character (in Manifestation) is scarred for life by the horrible event where her child disappears and is said to be dead. She suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and massive anxiety and leaves her husband to forget her troubles. Unfortunately he finds her and through these horrible events both she and her husband have manifested this horrific creature out of their pain and guilt and fear, or have they?
Anna struggles within her grief, trying to find peace but has gone off the deep end. I hope to make her as real as possible so that audiences don’t know whether to feel sorry for her, like her, hate her, or be drawn to her. I don’t want this to be a typical horror or be cheesy. Hopefully she will be relatable to an extreme. When someone goes through grief that intense something is going to crack and she is broken. Like I said I’m still researching and developing this amazing role that I have been privileged to take on. I hope to bring her justice. I feel my main challenge is keeping her as real and organic as I possible, without falling into the trap of a “B” style movie.
While it is a Horror film it also is a drama and there should be a happy medium. This script does have some really bizarrely scary moments though so hopefully people will enjoy it who love the Horror Genre. Personally, I also tend to go for the misunderstood characters and I relate to them for whatever reason. I also love to tackle the Anti heroes who turn out to be different than how we see them from the start, so the perspective may change gradually. I’m very excited about playing her however and look forward to it. She will be one of the most challenging roles for me to date.
UKHS – What other current projects are you working on that you can tell us about?
JF – Currently, I’m filming a short film called, The Price. I play Elizabeth, who of sorts who is trying to help out a girl (Stacy) who is going through a difficult time. However with my brand of help brings a price and it must be paid…I don’t wish to give it away! I’m also scheduled to film this fall, The Haunted, which is a ghost story. It’s kind of a love story cloaked in horror again I do not wish to give it away but this will also be equally challenging to Anna in Manifestation. In this film I will play a dual role- Shannon who runs an old manor-Blackwood Manor, and Katherine an evil vengeful spirit, should be interesting to say the least.
I’m Really looking forward to this one too!! I love the challenge. Also, I’m in talks currently for a web series, and several other shorts (both horror and sci fi, one offhand is called Poison and am waiting to finish it), and I was recently cast in a TV pilot (serial/drama) set in Philly, but I am waiting to hear back as well as another feature film (Horror). I can’t give more info until I am allowed to. And of course I recently was working on a shoot/interview for the above magazine and I am waiting on working on an animated project (as said) called Ultima Force where I play Madam Witch who is the secondary villain.
I can’t freaking wait!! I’ve always wanted to do an animation. I have multiple projects in the mix. I just love to be working! I’m happiest when I’m busy. I also have my first mainstream project lined up but am on an NDA so I can’t discuss that one just yet ! But keep an eye out in the next year or two …
UKHS – You have done a number of movies for HellFire Club Studio Pictures, working with the director and producer,Shawn Anthony on 4 movies including the upcoming film ‘The Haunted’. What do you enjoy most about working with Shawn and which movie have you enjoyed working on the most?
JF – I enjoy working with Shawn Anthony quite a bit. He’s very professional and a very hard working Director. He wears multiple hats (of which I have a great deal of respect for) and I’m so proud to have been part of some of his projects. He gets better and better. Honestly I’m very excited about filming The Haunted. he wrote the screenplay, and the 3 other projects I was working on, as well as Poison, and The Price. He’s a very giving person on set and loves subtle acting (which I love as well). Shawn has this magical way of getting a performance from an actor, that perhaps they didn’t even know existed in themselves. It’s wonderful working with him. I think my favourite film to date with him thus far has been Soulmate:True Evil Never Dies.
It was his first film as a writer and director, and it was my very first Lead in an Independent feature film. I played psychic Kate Stephans who was connected psychically to Jack the Ripper who has come back from the dead and started his killing spree again it’s very intelligently written, even though it was Shawn’s first film. I felt the script was just brilliant. I had my first ever love scene in that film. It was a lot of firsts for me. So I hold a special place in my heart for it. Also I was honoured (as well as other actors) on winning 2 awards for this film at 2 separate festivals in DC. One at the World Music and independent Film Festival and also at The Hot Media International Film Festival.
I just felt so blessed to be a part of it. Shawn was the first Director to ever really give me a chance as a strong female lead, and truthfully that’s something that I’ll never forget. I was very humbled by this experience for numerous reasons. I also pushed myself harder than I had before for any film project previous to it. The film went on to winning multiple awards for Shawn, Actors, and other. I’m super proud of it. I also had the honour of being nominated twice for Scarlett in Vampires Rise of the Fallen which was an action/horror film. That was an interesting experience for sure. I enjoyed that film for the fact that I did a lot of character work in it as well, I am also proud of that role.
The other was for The American Werewolf Project where I played Victoria a grad student searching for answers, which was much more of a typical “B” movie horror and kind of poked fun at that stereotype. I did however do some behind the scenes work (left over from Vampires) and assisted on an FX mask for the Wolf character. That was very fun to do. Working with clay and such. I have done a lot of my own street/painted make-up on these independent films which stems from theatre I feel. I’ve always loved painted and crazy make-up and almost went that route career wise, but just love acting more. It’s been a side love of mine for years! So that was just a fun project to do. Just scary all American fun.
UKHS – What would you consider to be the three main ingredients that you need to make a classic horror flick?
JF – Oh wow that’s a tough question! I feel the most important main 3 ingredients needed to make a classic horror flick are being 1) Fearless (must take risks expect to get bloody, intense emotional, or have to step outside the comfort zone of every day life), 2) Professionally disciplined (Show up on time, do the work, study the project and research as much as you can), and of course remember to 3) Have Fun! You have to love what you are doing or it will show on camera.
UKHS – If you were stranded on a desert island, which three items would you want to have with you?
JF – Haha! hmmm I think if I was on a desert Island I’d want a survival pocket knife,has things on it like knife, flashlight in mini form with batteries etc .. Water jug and a first aid kit mini. Haha! I’m such a girl Maybe food and a second person? Haha!
UKHS – Finally, what are your greatest strengths as an actress and what would be your dream role?
JF – I feel my greatest strengths as an actress are that I try my best to be very giving on a set I love to listen to other actors and observe while sharing that energy. I can get emotional very easy but can also keep it subtle, and I consider myself to be fearless and constantly testing myself to overcome those limitation that hold me back. I think I’m easygoing and fun to work with too. I do the work. I give 110% in EVERYTHING I do. And, I’m a believer in discipline and rehearsals as well as preparation. It’s very important to me, as is a job well done. Respect and love of this craft go hand in hand for me. That’s really about it.
My dream role? Wow I’d love to be an iconic character but I really don’t know who. I think I’d love play a fairy tale role or sci fi fantasy role in something epic like Lord of the Rings or Wizard of Oz or something from classical literature where the perspective is flipped upside down. I’d love to work with Directors such as Tim Burton, Joss Whedon, Steven Spielberg or even do something like American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful, or Grimm.
I really look to actresses like Helena Bonham-Carter, Jessica Lange, and Ava Green for inspiration. I want to be that kind of fearless actress that will leap off a cliff for a role figuratively speaking of course, and go whatever distance it takes to tell a great story. As said, I also love playing the Anti Hero and misunderstood but strong spirited women who have gone through something but persevered or are trying to. Whatever I tackle I feel I have to learn from and grow from it or it’s not worth it. My dream is to create and explore as many characters as possible that challenge me as much as possible. I’d love to inspire others to fulfil their dreams no matter how hard the path gets and how many obstacles are in the way. Life is short. it’s all about the exploration and the journey. Thank you so much for this interview! It’s a pleasure to meet you and talk with you.
UKHS – You are welcome, Jessica, it’s been a true pleasure talking to you. Keep up the great work and thanks again for your time.
JF -Thank you also to everyone who has supported me along the way. Here are some links to check out my work from.
Recent trailer for a film short I’m still working on (from a couple weeks ago) called Poison.
My IMDB – CLICK HERE
Extended Reel -new one coming soon
Soulmate Trailer this film is coming out this month! I will let you know when it does 🙂 (I won for 2 Festivals WMIFF in 2012 and HMIFF in 2013 for Best Actress) My favourite role to date.
Vampires: Rise of the Fallen (Feature)-I was nominated for best Actress at 2 festivals (WMIFF and HMIFF)for this also and the film won several awards.
My website, it needs an update, but you will get an idea. CLICK HERE
Jessica’s FACEBOOK PAGE – CLICK HERE