Formed in 2017 and made up of people from all areas of the HFAS community, our Board of Trustees is a highly skilled group of individuals who will be working to ensure that The Studio is the best institution it can be. We've been introducing you to members of our Trust over the last few weeks, and today it's time for you to meet Jessica Stanley!
Jessica Stanley is an actor and writer from Melbourne, and the current Chair of the new Melbourne-based theatre company North of Eight. Jessica received a scholarship to study at Monash University and while completing her Bachelor of Performing Arts was awarded the Outstanding Year Level Achiever and a Dean’s Recognition Award following her work in August: Osage County, and in her final year worked with director Leticia Caceres on the world premiere of Where in the World is Frank Sparrow? In 2015, she concurrently completed the Full-Time Program at the Howard Fine Acting Studio Australia and a Bachelor of Psychology at Swinburne University.
Jessica's on-screen credits include roles on The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Glitch, and the French-language independent feature, La Souffrance. In 2016, Jessica performed the one-woman show, Ménage, at Melbourne Fringe Festival, which was nominated for Best Performance Award. Recently, she performed in Navy Pier by John Corwin.
1. Tell us three things about yourself (that we can't learn from your bio!)
Eating is pretty much my main passion in life. My last meal on Earth would probably be Carbonara and a Southern Fried Chicken burger, or anything that my Dad cooked.
I love to read - fiction, non-fiction, and plays. I also like to collect children's picture books - Shirley Barber and Alison Lester are my favourites.
Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love to play games. Board games, card games, laser tag, whatever. Basically anything competitive, and especially anything where I can betray other people in the game.
2. Why are you excited to be part of the HFAS Board of Trustees?
I'm excited because this is a school that I feel so passionately about, and have ever since I first walked in the door. To be able to help it grow, and spread the word of it to new people, feels really special. As I am also heading the Scratch Nights this year, so I'm really excited to be giving people opportunities to be creative.
3. What's your favourite lesson you've learned through your training at HFAS?
One of my absolute favourite lessons that I've learnt through Howard is that there are no advanced acting mistakes, and that it's all Acting 101. Learning this over the last few years has given so much more inner peace, humility, curiosity and mental toughness. And as Howard says, 'simple does not mean easy' - it took years for this lesson to truly work its way through my system. I used to really beat myself up if I made a mistake, thinking "Duh, I knew that, I can't believe I made that mistake", but I don't do that anymore. I just don't.
4. What do you love about being an actor?
That every role exists inside of me. Being on stage means being able to express things that we don't often get to in life. Acting is such a great release, but is also feeds back into my life. The more I've worked on my craft and technique, and different roles, the closer to my true self I feel in the rest of my life. I also love that feeling when you start researching a new role and you fall down a wormhole on the net and find yourself learning all kinds of new things.
5. What do you not so much love about being an actor?
Oh, the way that the industry works! That we've somehow gotten to a point where how many Instagram followers you have is an actual factor in getting a role. I wish that casting was based purely off talent, full stop. Sadly it's so much more complicated than that. Also, that there's so little paid work and funding out there for actors.
6. What's your dream project or a role you'd love to play
I'm not really sure how to answer this because I have a pretty big list! To name a few plays - Macbeth, The Maids, Danny & the Deep Blue Sea, Closer, Blackbird, Medea.
7. What's a piece of advice you have for your fellow actors
Read plays. The more you read, the better you will be at script analysis and understanding empathy for different characters. Stay curious. Do voice work. Do body work. Simple things (but not easy!).
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Jessica! If you'd like to know more about our Board of Trustees, you can click here, and be sure to take a look at our recent blog posts to meet other Trust members.