Thursday, August 25, 2016

Spotlight On...Jessica Kazamel

Name: Jessica Kazamel

Hometown: Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Education: American Academy of Dramatic Arts, NYC

Favorite Credits: As an actor, Linda the Chicken from MilkMilkLemonade, and Peter Pan.

Why theater?: Theatre is tangible, it requires disicpline, it forces an audience to react, and hopefully, think. I personally believe theatre teaches empathy, which is severly lacking in this world.

Tell us about Canuck Downunder: Canuck Downunder is a story about a small town Canadian girl in her early twenties, living in New York City, who has just lost her older brother to substance abuse. The story follows Jess as she works through her grief with the help and hinderence of the digital world. The process of grieving has changed significantly with the involvement of social media and easy access to communication, Canuck Downunder reflects on that change.

What inspired you to write Canuck Downunder?: This play is autobiographical, about my personal experience of losing my brother, Stephen Kazamel. Social media had an enourmous impact on me during that time. Some examples being articles posted about his death, using Skype and Facebook to contact my family up north, constant messages of condolences, and of course, Stephen’s Facebook account. Social media weighed a lot on me. Do I post something about his death? Will people think I’m being self indulgent? Will they think I don’t care if I don’t post? Who should I be updating on my grief? But this is not an attack on social media, yes there was a lot of negative, but I am the first to admit I completely rely on it. On a positive note, I had friends of my brothers from all around the world friending me, messaging me absolutely wonderful stories about him, and they continue to do so. It feels good. Social media is something we are all expected to understand now, and I want those who are grieving to know they are not alone, I want THEM to feel understood. That is why I am sharing this story.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Dark comedy, for sure. I hate it when theatre takes itself too seriously. As for subject matter, family dramas always get me, and anything written by or about minorities.  I owe a lot of thanks to Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, especially with my short films. These women have sparked change in the industry, and given me an outlet to express myself without asking permission from anybody. Thanks to them, I am bold and unapolagetic with my work.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: All of the ladies on SNL cause they are SLAYING, Mike Meyers, Bill Murray, Lena Dunham + Jenni Konner (basically, everyone at Lenny Letter), The Duplass brothers, Judd Apatow, the list goes on.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Dear Evan Hansen blew my mind and had me sobbing. I’m usually not one for musicals, but WOW. It brought all the feels.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: It would be hilarious to see my best friend, Sarah Hodgson, play me. It would be called "Scarred for Life."

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I was so sad to miss this years Big Green Theatre at the Bushwick Starr. The Superhero Clubhouse collaborates with child playwrights and professional actors to produce a super “green” show. Meaning the entire set is made of recycled materials, and the content is about how to be eco friendly. It is so cool and creative.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Pretty Little Liars. They are just so nice to look at. More specifically, creeping Ashley Benson’s Instagram.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Depressed.

What’s up next?: More short films, specifically about street harassment and domestic violence. Also, the continuous of my web series, Loose Linda.

For more on Jessica, visit