Good afternoon, YouthMundees! At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them. Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process. In this week’s edition, we’re extremely excited to feature Jessica Marie Fisher, an emerging, multi-talented playwright, actor, singer, and famous Tik Tok content creator based out of New Jersey!
Born in New Jersey to two army veterans, Jessica Marie Fisher’s innate attraction to theatre certainly separated her from the more logical professions of the rest of her family: “I am the child of two army vets, which makes me the loved and supported ‘black sheep’ of the family for being an artist.”
Jessica’s multifaceted talents, she describes herself as “an actor, singer, playwright, and occasional trumpeter”, led her to attend the prestigious NYU Tisch Drama program, where she studied and honed her writing, acting, and vocal skills at Playwrights Horizons Theatre School and later The New Studio on Broadway.
Since recently graduating from New York University, Jessica has worked tirelessly over the last year, earning acting credits by both touring nationally for the Chamber Theatre’s production of Encore! and serving as a character hostess at The McKittrick Hotel's Sleep No More.
Adding to the long list of impressive accomplishments for such a young artist, Jessica is also a published playwright: her play, Rules for Coming Out When You're in the Driver's Seat of your Mom's Camry, is available via Original Works Publishing. Jessica is now working on her second play, Imagined Dialogs as a Preparation of Real Conversations And/Or as a Means of Feeling Less F***ing Alone, along with other shorter titles she plans on releasing soon.
Jessica recently moved to Arizona where she hopes to transition to a film and voiceover career on the west coast. A bright future and a fresh start ahead of her, Jessica signed with Signature Models & Entertainment, an agency located in Scottsdale, Arizona: " I just signed with them last week and I am totally jazzed about it!"
What inspires you and your creative process?
I am most excited to put up stories that connect to people on an experiential and emotional level, hopefully making them feel more seen. The art that has affected me the most has been the type that relates to my specific personal memories. Like, A Dolls House: Part 2 ripped me open. I want to make art like that. There are a few moments I’ve sat in the audiences of my plays and seen people laugh or cry or look like they’re really connecting, and I’m always selfishly chasing that feeling. When someone comes up to me after an opening and says “that scene where ______? That reminded me of this time in my life when ____. I felt ______.” – that’s what inspires me!
What is the connection between your art and social justice? I don’t think art can be separated from social justice. Every single thing an artist writes or performs is political. Even if I write a play about two crocodiles who love to celebrate birthdays, I am still Jess Fisher who is queer and from New Jersey with all of my experiences and political, economic, social background, writing about two crocodiles who love to celebrate birthdays. If you’re an artist, whether you like it or not, everything you make is informed by everything that you are. It’s the artist’s responsibility to look at what they create and say “what is this thing doing? Who does it benefit? Who am I, and how does who I am change what the story means?”
What inspired you to pursue theatre? What were the challenges you overcame in this? I was an annoying, loud kid, so my babysitter suggested I should be put in acting classes – sometime around the age of five. It’s always been a part of my life. Acting and singing bring me more joy than anything else. My family couldn’t afford expensive classes and courses, so I mostly participated in high school and community theatre and worked on my own. Shoutout to my singing teacher Diane Testa, though! I auditioned for all of the top theatre BFA’s around the East Coast, but I also applied for the top Political Science programs in the US. I told myself if I didn’t get into a top BFA program, I was going to study PoliSci instead – I can recognize that this was a problematic thought process at the time. I was accepted to Playwrights Horizons Theatre School at Tisch and paid for it mostly through loans. In school my greatest struggle was overcoming the financial disparities between myself and my classmates. I couldn’t afford to fund my own shows like my friends could. It was frustrating. I worked jobs throughout school. I overcame it by…not sleeping? I’m not totally sure. I think the combination of the support from my friends and my relationships and learning how to gage when I needed a day off is how I survived.
Do you have any advice on how we can do our part in supporting emerging queer artists like yourself?
Don’t be afraid to make art about your own experiences. Not in a “woe is me” way. That isn’t compelling. Don’t exploit your friends’ stories in the process – I have made that mistake – but the most successful things I have written and performed have been about the things I have been through; especially the things I am ashamed of. The times I have been a bad friend, the times I have learned about my own privilege, the times I didn’t treat myself well – those are all experiences many audiences have also felt.
My advice for my actor friends is to be careful with your money – so maybe you don’t have to work four jobs right after your graduate school to pay rent and you can go to that audition instead of catching up on sleep after staying on shift until 2 AM. Your health is important. Don’t play the “exhaustion Olympics” with your friends: “Oh my GOSH I got FOUR HOURS of SLEEP and now I’m going to FIVE auditions and I’m working ALL NIGHT.” Go to bed instead. And if no one is hiring you? Make your own work, whether that’s writing your play, making Tik Toks, creating Youtube videos – don’t stop telling your story. Someone will pay you to do it soon.
How do you as an artist use social media platforms like Tik Tok to your advantage? How have these social media platforms and spaces helped your content gain visibility?
Tik Tok does not reduce your art. If you have a joke or a political quip, it will get more traction and reach more people on a social media platform. I make short narratives or quick jokes and I share them! I didn’t mean to get “famous” on the platform, but that happened…so I have leaned into it. I still seek to connect to people through my jokes and make them feel more seen – much of my content is about being queer! Through my Tik Tok I have been found by agents, journalists, and other artists who I have collaborated with!
What is your advice to artists looking to use social media platforms to showcase their content?
Make sure your social media has your voice. There’s no point in putting up a professional veil – I have found that fans and industry people alike are attracted to authenticity. Weirdness, quirkiness, funniness is just as valuable as your awesome new headshots. You are your identity, and the best social media showcases that.