Please introduce yourself, what you do, why you do it, and what you want people to know about you.
Hi! I’m Jessica Morris. I’m an actress and writer. I love to connect with people by telling stories.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
There are so many talented and unique people in this industry. But there is only one of me. Each actor has an individual energy and spirit that they bring to the table. The one I must share is mine and mine alone.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you wanted to do what you do now. Who did you tell first? What has it been like since that moment?
I got on the stage at 12 years old, a very shy and quiet girl, and felt myself become a character. In that moment, I stood a little taller and felt a bit more confident. That transformation was intoxicating and liberating for me. My friends and family noticed and were very supportive of me along the way.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?
Getting over my fears was difficult for me for many years. Walking into an audition room sometimes made me feel frozen with anxiety. Even when I had worked the scenes with an acting coach, was prepared and capable of handling the role, I would get so flustered and nervous. Many times, I would completely blow it. I had to change my perspective.
I started to think of auditioning as the job itself, instead of an interview for a job. I tried to really enjoy playing the character, even just for that moment instead of feeling judged and being worried about how the people in the room were perceiving me. That made it more fun for me and gave me more success. And now that most castings are done from self-tapes, it’s so much better.
Photographer: Dexter Brown
You star in the movie Break In. Can you tell us more about the movie and your character?
My character, Heather Lockwood, is trying to leave her controlling husband and move on with another man. While staying at her deceased mother’s house, she is the victim of a break in. She must fight for her life to survive. Afterwards, when she finds out the truth behind who was responsible for the attack, she gets her revenge.
What drew you to this role?
I loved that even though she starts out as a victim, she evolves into someone who defends herself and becomes much more independent.
What did you enjoy most about working with Billy Baldwin?
He is a very experienced and interesting actor, so it made working with him very easy. He is also a down to earth guy, and it was lovely to talk with him in between scenes.
Did this role require more preparation compared to other projects you’ve worked on?
There were many scenes that included only my character. Since I didn’t have another actor to react off of, everything had to just come from inside of me. I had to dig deep to pull up feelings of terror, sadness, and grief. Listening to music helped me access those emotions.
What was the most challenging part of working on Break In?
I did lots of stunts, running and fighting. That was physically challenging along with the emotional work. It was an amazing challenge that I was excited about doing.
What is your favorite part about working for Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network since you’ve done a number of projects with them?
I think it’s inspiring that Lifetime really celebrates stories about women who rise above their circumstances and obstacles.
What types of acting roles do you naturally gravitate toward? If you had to describe your ideal project in 3 words, what would they be?
I gravitate toward roles that have a strong arc, characters that have to overcome many things to come out on the other side a better person. My ideal project would be intense, mysterious, and heartwarming.
You co-wrote and starred in Twisted Little Lies. What was the inspiration for the movie and what was the writing process like with your friend Melissa Archer?
Melissa and I would hang out by her pool, drinking margaritas, and come up with story ideas. We fell in love with the characters we created and finished the script in our spare time. Luckily, it fell into the right hands and went into production.
If you had to describe Twisted Little Lies to someone who has never seen it, what would you say?
It’s a story about a lonely but caring teacher who gets manipulated by one of her students, who is very troubled. He blackmails her and tries to destroy her life. When he becomes obsessed with her, he feels that she leaded him on and then abandons him.
Can you tell us what has been your favorite project that you have worked on, and why it was your favorite?
I always say that my favorite project is one that I haven’t done yet. I continue to look forward and not behind me.
Outside of One Life to Live, what TV show have you enjoyed working on most over the years?
Working with Wanda Sykes and Kim Fields on The Upshaws was a cool experience. I haven’t done many sitcoms, so it was slightly out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot. I also really liked working on a show called Perception. Eric McCormack was my scene partner. He directed the episode. It was wonderful to work with on that.
What is one interesting thing your fans don’t know about you?
When I’m not traveling for shoots or at red carpet events, I’m actually a huge homebody. I prefer to be home with my family, in my pajamas and glasses, playing board games.
What advice would you give to young people who want to work in the entertainment industry?
My advice would be to stay grounded. Try not to lose who you really are, while trying to please others.
If you had to give one piece advice to your younger self, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self not to doubt herself so much. The insecurities I had blocked me from doing my best work for a long time. When I first started to work professionally at 19 years old, I had so many opportunities that came my way because of my youth. I wasn’t quite ready for them. If I had the life experience and belief in my abilities that I have now, I think I could have had more success earlier on.
What are your professional goals for the next year?
My husband and I are writing 2 scripts, which I’d like to finish. One is a thriller that would shoot in Italy, and one is a Christmas rom-com. I’d also like to do more TV work this year, especially on shows that shoot in L.A. so I can be close to home now that I’m a wife and stepmom.
Do you have any other projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I have 2 Lifetime movies in post-production. In Club of Secrets, I play a math teacher who goes undercover at a strip club to find her missing daughter. In Betrayed at Home, which I co-wrote with my husband, I play a woman who discovers dark family secrets when her sister turns up dead in a sex club.
If you had to pick the TOP 3 people, you’d want to meet that could take your career (or business) to the next level. Who would those 3 people be?
I’m not sure who I would vibe with or who would see my potential but any of the top directors or producers in the industry could obviously help, if they saw my best work and had a perfect role for me. It can be a timing thing. Right role/right time. But I would give anything to work with a talented female director like Sofia Coppola or Greta Gerwig.
Facebook: Jessica Hillis