Jessica Stanley: balancing a dark secret

Jess Still

As a kid, Jessica Stanley found the easiest way to make friends was to join the drama club. A daughter of duel nationality parents she could have studied acting in America but choose a BA in Performing Arts at the London Metropolitan University instead. A founding member of Metra theatre, she is striving to make original and accessible theatre when she’s not starring in films.

C.R: Did you enjoy working on Wilby Park?
Jessica: When I read the script I was very curious about the process. The language is very, very stylised so I knew we’d have to work at making it appear natural to the characters. We wanted the dialogue to flow and every night Ian worked with us to help refine the script so we were all comfortable. He is very thorough but we could make suggestions and if Ian likes it he goes with it. It’s good to work with someone who has written the work but isn’t precious about it as some writer-directors can be. Ian is so open. I would never want to be a puppet on a shoot. The best work comes from everyone chipping in, it’s more organic, more real.

C.R: Stephanie is a complex role, how have you come to grips with her?
Jessica: Stephanie is still an enigma to me. I’m still finding her in each scene, figuring out the heart of the role. She is all about show, it’s all a front, so it would be easy to play her very dramatically and at times grotesquely but you have to remember there’s something underneath in order to make her real. Stephanie has a dark secret.

C.R: Ian allowed you to do your own makeup and clothes for the shoot. Was that part of the fun?
Jessica: I love having my makeup done. When I was younger I was a die hard tomboy but now I love it. We wanted to get a 1950’s ‘Twin Peaks’ look for Stephanie. Ian liked it right down to the beauty spot a la Audrey Horne. It was nice to have the free reign to create Stephanie’s look.

C.R: What would your dream role be?
Jessica: I’d like more than anything to play an American. I have a mixed English/American accent and I can do both on their own but I’m rarely seen for American roles. My perfect role would be something like ‘Walk the Line’, but I love costume dramas and period settings, a film with depth and drama and a nice ensemble.

C.R. And Metra Theater’s next production?
Jessica : An adaptation of Chekhov’s ‘Three sisters’ which we’ve set entirely on a boat. We want to make classical texts more accessible to modern audiences while leaving the language entirely intact.

Wilby Park Jessica Stanley

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