Jessica Kelly
Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 6.55.12 PM
June 2013, Ludlow Street
Where are you from? Tell me about the home you grew up in.
I’m from Westhampton but I didn’t “summer” there… I grew up very normal in a small house with a short drive to the beach. The house was small so my private space was the basement where I would spend 2-3 hours every day there daydreaming or acting out stories.
What was your first job in life and in New York?
I worked a summer job at 13 years old in retail in Westhampton at a fancy shop – where I would watch these very rich and glamorous people come in and buy anything like it was nothing. I saved up money so I could buy this green corduroy jacket that cost $700 dollars and then lost it that fall. I never got attached to possessions again. I have steadily worked since I was 13. The day after I graduated college I started working in casting at a professional theater but my first NYC job was a paid internship at “As The World Turns.” For awhile I felt like I was never in the right casting place and didn’t understand how to get into the film world. My first mentor said, “If you have a gift then the universe will find a way so you can give it. It just wouldn’t make sense if you couldn’t give your gifts. ” The next day I got a call for my first film job and it’s been a golden path ever since.
What makes you feel nervous or excited – the emotions almost seem interchangeable. What do you think?

I am pretty nervous. More of a nervous-worried than a nervous- excited. Except when I have a crush! That makes me REALLY nervous and excited and I’m totally beside myself… So it’s all interchanging together in that case.
The job of a casting director is fascinating and Jessica Kelly is as dynamic as the talent she seeks to find. From the time she was 13, Jess wanted to become a Casting Director; she knew what she wanted and what to look for. I really love that about her.
When I shot Jess for GIRLS I KNOW we talked about life in New York and how circles of friends, people, places and neighborhoods evolve. In all of that, we noted how fun it is to reconnect with the moments of the past that can potentially change everything at once.
For example, Jess cast me in Precious but the part of “Incest Survivor” was cut from the film. I wasn’t privy to this information until we met a few weeks ago – I was 23 when Jess called me back to the Chyrstie Street Casting office – I met Lee Daniels the Director and that encounter was a belly flipping experience, to say the least. I stopped acting shortly after that audition and started a career in Fashion, an industry just as fun, hard, fulfilling and wild.
I liked and like Jess a lot, she is straight forward and very honest; two qualities incredibly difficult to find in the entertainment industry. No judgement – it’s all smoke and mirrors! But, hang on to those who tell you like it is.
- Jen