The Waiting Game
Gold Coast’s own model turned actress Jessica Green has her eye on Hollywood. With her movie Red Billabong set for release in Australia and a lucrative social media business thriving, she’s now bravely making the move to LA in search her big break.
When auditioning for roles and patiently waiting for your big break in Hollywood you have two choices. You can either sit back and waste days wallowing in frustration, or you can land successful modelling campaigns with brands like Honey Birdette, Cellini Australia, MUSE Swimwear and Harbour Town, and monetise your personal social media in a way that even many powerful, big businesses have struggled to do. Jessica Green, 23, has astutely chosen the latter.
Right here in Miami, Gold Coast’s very own Good Girl is busily engaging with her 300,000 Instagram followers, running her own You Tube channel, supporting local bands and business in promotion, as well as being Ambassador and the face of Mayella skincare and doing her own makeup tutorials. All this while having an eye on cracking Hollywood this year.
“My social media business all started by mistake,” she tells us, tucking one long leg underneath her in an effortless, accidental Pilates stretch. “My Instagram following kept growing and companies started sending me products hoping I’d post about them. I was being sent watches, clothes, all sorts of things. I ended up with so many requests we decided to start charging for them. It’s grown from there and we’ve built it up into a business in its own right. I post every day, I love it!”
When Ocean Road magazine meets Jessica, she’s patiently waiting to hear confirmation of the release date of Red Billabong, the Australian suspense thriller in which she plays the lead, Rebecca.
“At the end of each day of filming I was happy with how I performed but of course I’ll critique my performance when I see it edited and on screen,” she says. “Like most actors, I don’t like watching myself. I always think I should have said a line differently, not touched my hair at a certain point or looked another actor directly in the eye during a particular moment.
“My intimate scene with Tim Pocock was the most challenging part of filming for me. Even though it’s literally two seconds, I’ve never done a scene like that before. There’s crew everywhere around you, and you’re wearing clothes underneath the sheets so there’s nothing remotely sexy about it at all, but I’ve been worried about how I’ll feel watching it back. And, of course, how my dad and my boyfriend will feel!
“I fractured my foot in the last week of filming which made finishing the film difficult too. I’d been for an audition to be the face of Harbour Town shopping centre. I walked out afterwards, got to the last two steps and thought I was at the bottom. I started texting and ended up crashing in a heap. I staggered to the toilet in stupidly high heels and had a little cry. I had to pull out of Miss Universe too, even though I was through to the state finals and on my way to the nationals. Of course, it came just when I was about to do the scenes that I’d been really looking forward to; running through the bush in fear, jumping off a rock, all the fun, action stuff. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t even walk, I was dosed up on Panadol in a moonboot and they had to write me twisting my ankle into the script. They carried me around and I’d take my boot off just for filming. At least it will look realistic that I’m in pain – because I genuinely was!”
The second chapter in Jessica’s waiting game is counting the days until her golden passport is authorised; that is, a three year American working O1 visa. LA is where a young, passionate, focused actress needs to be for auditions and she can’t wait to get cracking. “I’m totally ready now and determined to find success this time round,” she says. “I’m ready to smash it. I’m confident that this is it, this is my year!”
Jessica is slated to follow in the footsteps of Margot Robbie and Ruby Rose and be the next big Aussie acting export to conquer LA. Often likened to Megan Fox (which she says she can’t see at all), Jessica was born in Tasmania but moved to the Gold Coast when she was three years old and has called the Coast home ever since. She started modelling at 14 and landed her first major acting role playing Kiki in Lightning Point in 2011.
“I loved every minute of playing Kiki,” she says with a broad smile, showing off her dazzling new veneers, courtesy of Palm Beach Pure Smiles, another local Gold Coast business she helps promote. “My character was a confident horse rider as well as a good surfer. I have a real passion for animals so loved learning to ride, it was something I’d always wanted to do but never had a chance. I was very sporty at school. In fact, I was very busy at school. I feel sorry for my parents, they were always having to drive me around to one thing or another. Every day of the week I had something on; sports, track and field, touch football, acrobatics, singing and dancing, it was always go, go, go! Even now, I don’t like sitting still for long, I like to be active.”
When she was 16, a sports injury forced Jessica into making a decision and focus on what she wanted for her future. “I busted my knee during a game of touch football. I sat on the side line and iced it for half an hour, then walked and just carried on. I lived with it like that for six months. I wasn’t sent for an MRI so my ligament tears went undetected. One day, I did a handstand at school, came down and my knee just popped out to the side. I knew something was wrong, it was absolutely excruciating! I had to have knee reconstruction surgery and my recovery was 12 months. I couldn’t run or play any sports, it was so annoying.
“I can’t step anymore because I have over-extending joints so it’s too likely to do it again. That was a turning point for me. I had to accept that I can’t play sports, especially competitively. I thought to myself, ‘I can’t end up with scars everywhere. Modelling and acting is my job now. That’s it.’ I also fell on sprint blocks and was left with a scar on my other leg from that. You can’t be covered in scars when you want to do swimwear modelling and when your body is your business in acting. It was a big moment because I had to let go of something that I loved.”
As well as being her day to day manager now, Jessica has her mum Cherine to thank for her first modelling contract. She saw a flyer at the Oasis shopping centre advertising the ‘Cancer Council Model Search’, encouraged Jessica to enter and she went on to win. “It was my first stepping stone,” she says, taking a sip of her water. “I got my first agent but I was at that awkward age where I wasn’t right for kid’s roles anymore and I wasn’t ready for women’s either. When I was 15 and 16 I was a state finalist in Girlfriend magazine model search but I was still in the awkward bracket. You can’t start doing women’s shoots until later in your teens. Some girls have curves when they’re younger, but I certainly didn’t! Soon after that, my face was used on packaging of Schwarzkopf Colour and modelling really took off from there. I missed out on school and even missed my very last day of school which was hard. In year 11 I went to school around 3 times a week, then in year 12 I was lucky to be going once or twice. It was such a novelty going in for me, I loved it!
“It was at the end of year 11 when I had a call from my agent Debbie Reeder, to say TV producers had been searching all over Australia to cast for Lightning Point. They hadn’t found what they were looking for so they started looking at modelling agencies instead which is very rare. I did some acting classes when I was seven but they were just for fun, I had no experience, I didn’t know how to act and thought I’d messed up the audition but I got the part.”
People often wonder how hard it is to act in a TV series; Jessica says her days were exciting but definitely demanding. “I was picked up at 3:50am, I arrived at the studio, went straight into wardrobe, makeup, had breakfast, into checks, onto set and I’d arrive home around 5:30pm. Then I’d have to learn my scenes for the next day which took about three hours. On top of that I had to keep up with school work. With practise, I had to get quicker and quicker at learning my lines. You build that memory muscle. I used to learn Busta Rhymes raps when I was younger, I’m sure that helped! He’s one of the fastest rappers ever.”
Much to her parents’ relief, filming commitments meant that Jessica wasn’t able to stay out during Schoolies like most other teenagers. “I went out until 9pm but then I had to go home, I couldn’t party like everyone else because I had work the next day!” she laughs.
There was only one night when she stayed out in her friend’s apartment and it was that night that she met her boyfriend, Cayden, now 24. “I had a kissing scene for Lightning Point the next day and I’d told myself I was going to get some practise. I would never normally have kissed someone that quickly, I was a golden angel child. I should have been out and being naughty like other teenagers but I was already working so I didn’t! Cayden and I met out the front of McDonald’s – super romantic I know! We clicked straight away and five years later I’m still totally in love. He’s my first, my only boyfriend and I love him to bits. He’s a romantic, he writes songs for me and he’s my best friend. I love spending time with him and he’s coming to LA with me as soon as my visa is organised. We’re going to live in Santa Monica which is pretty similar to the Gold Coast so I know I’ll be happy there.
“I’ve been over to LA three times before; once for a modelling reality show called The Face, which I didn’t end up doing, and twice for auditions. It was lonely on my own, I didn’t know what to expect and looking back, I wasn’t ready for Pilot season auditions then. LA is a tough city, there are hundreds and hundreds of actors, and they’re all really good! I’ve had much more practise at auditioning now because I’ve been self-taping and sending from here while I’ve been home in Australia. But I need to be face to face in a room with casting directors to get my break.
“It’s very intimidating walking into a casting room. You never know what you’re going to get. I’ve walked into a room with six or seven people and not one of them smiles. You say hello and one person might say hello back. It makes you nervous.
“I’ve been given stacks of advice from my agent and friends in the acting business, like Lucy Fry who was in Lightning Point with me. She’s a really good friend of mine, it was fantastic to see her do so well in Vampire Academy. I’ve learnt to walk into an audition room and speak in my American accent from the beginning, read my lines and at the end say ‘Thank you so much for the opportunity’ in my usual, Australian accent. If they know you’re Australian from the beginning, casting directors are aware and listening, waiting for you to slip up. It’s reassuring that they then say, ‘Oh, you’re Australian?’ – they had no idea!
“Probably my worst audition was with the casting director who did The Notebook. I desperately wanted to impress him and I put too much pressure on myself. You only get one chance to impress someone like that who’s so established and will be casting for first-class roles. I was up until 1am learning my lines, I knew them perfectly, but when I walked in they just went out of my head. The nerves got to me and I stuffed it up. I walked out of the building towards the bus stop, stopped on the side of the road and called my mum. I was so upset. I had a little sook, went on my way and I’ve kept moving forward. You have to be able to pick yourself back up in this industry. I’ve had to toughen up.”
Getting advice from friends like Lucy and keeping in touch with her close group of friends is important to Jessica. “I’m still very close to my friends here at home,” she says. “Whenever we’re in one place we catch up and pick up where we left off. When we’re together it feels like home! One of my best friend’s is living in London, one’s in Jakarta, another’s in Bali, others are in Sydney. We’re all pursuing our own paths and have our own goals but deep down, we’re all the same people we were in school. There’s a strong bond and a lasting friendship between us, we all still click and get on like a house on fire. Also, social media has made it much easier to keep in touch with friends, you don’t have to live in each other’s pockets to remain close.”
Being close to friends and family keeps Jessica’s feet firmly on the ground. “I can’t stand people who get full of themselves. I hate getting compliments. I get embarrassed. Every now and then someone comes and asks me for a photo. A little girl came over the other day in Robina, and younger kids will say, ‘There’s Kiki!’ and their parents will ask if I mind having a photo with them. I don’t mind that at all. But I don’t think of myself as special. Sometimes my mum has to force me to go to red carpet events because I don’t like the attention. I can be a bit shy. I love getting dressed up and I prefer to do my own hair and makeup but I’m very happy in my tights and a t-shirt. I like being comfortable and I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy, I think that comes from playing sport! I knocked a girl out once in a football tournament!”
Jessica works out at her gym in Nobby’s beach five times a week, mixing between Pilates and F45 Training for cardio. Being so sporty, you can’t help wondering if a role in an action film might be the perfect fit for her. And of course, if you take one look at her Instagram feed you can’t miss her impressive abs. “I’ve always had them,” she laughs. “They come from being sporty when I was younger and from acrobatics. I know I’m lucky with them. The main part of my body I have to work on is keeping my legs toned.”
Blockbuster Thor with Chris Hemsworth, another successful Aussie export, is due to start filming here on the Gold Coast later this year. Jessica’s keen to throw her hat in the ring for opportunities in that. And, like her two days filming with Johnny Depp here on the Coast for Pirates of the Caribbean, it would be a dream come true to film at home.
“Absolutely. I’m happy at home on the Gold Coast. I would love an action role. Or I would love a romance lead like Rachel McAdams in The Notebook, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love that movie. We’ll see, I’m totally open to whatever opportunities I can find!”
Gorgeously grounded, stunningly beautiful, oozing with happiness and radiating health, she is a home-grown talent we can be proud of both on and off screen.
‘I try to eat healthily but sometimes I treat myself!’
Breakfast: Eggs on toast or Just Right cereal.
Lunch: Crusket with fish and salad, sushi or a quick sandwich.
Dinner: Chicken and salad with veggies.
“I don’t really drink alcohol. I don’t like the taste of it. People are embarrassed when they take me out, they’ll order a glass or white or red and I ask for an apple juice. They laugh and say, ‘Are you five years’ old!’”
Indulgent treats: Carbanara, hot chocolate.
* Follow Jessica on Instagram @jessicalaurengreen