Jessica Morris is an actress most known for her work on One Life to Live, playing the character Jennifer Rappaport. Since her time on the show, she has been working non-stop. Morris will be appearing in the ION original movie A Christmas Cruise, alongside Vivica A. Fox and Kristoff St. John. Morris will be playing Becky, close friend to Pam (Vivica A. Fox). The TV movie will follow Pam as she discovers love aboard a cruise ship. Becky invites Pam for the ride, joins her on the cruise. The TV movie will premiere this Saturday on December 16th. After that, she can also be seen in Lifetime’s The Wrong Man which will premiere on December 29th.
Legion of Leia: You are most known for your role as Jennifer Rappaport on One Life to Live, but have made a name for yourself outside of that show. When searching for new projects after One Life to Live, has there ever been a concern that you would be typecast in a certain way? And, if so, how do you strive to work against the typecasting?
Jessica Morris: I absolutely had to reinvent myself a bit afterwards. After being on a show for over 5 years, you are seen as that one character. Also, even though many people have great respect for soap actors, there is also sometimes a stigma attached to working in that genre. So, I had to play some grittier parts in indie films and honestly just grow as an actor a bit through classes and film experience.
Legion of Leia: For someone unfamiliar with these things, how would you describe the differences between working on a soap opera and working on a film? What difficulties do you think each presents individually?
Jessica Morris: On a soap, there are multiple cameras. You usually get only one or two takes because they move so quickly. When shooting a film, there is one camera that gets all different angles of the scene; wide shots, close-ups, etc. You may do the whole scene or parts of the scene many times. Starting my professional career in the soap world was kind of great because now I am ready to knock it out of the park on the first take. The challenge is in finding ways to keep it fresh take after take. But it is such a luxury to have more time to play with the material though.
Legion of Leia: You have two movies coming out this month that are in completely opposite genres – a Christmas film and a thriller mystery film. Was it difficult to get into a different mindset when approaching your scenes and roles for these films?
Jessica Morris: I love it and welcome having opposite films back to back. After doing something dark and dramatic, I’m sometimes in need of a lighthearted experience. And vice versa, if I just finished a heartwarming holiday movie, I feel ready for a project that goes a little deeper and is more of an emotional challenge for me.
Legion of Leia: I love the synopsis for A Christmas Cruise. It gives off this feeling of finding love in all the most unexpected places and times. What drew you to work on this project?
Jessica Morris: I play a lot of women in distress, so when I get the opportunity to play a more fun-loving character, I jump at the chance. As soon as I read the role of Becky in A Christmas Cruise, I knew she was going to be a blast to portray.
Legion of Leia: The Wrong Man is a complete 180 from A Christmas Cruise, but still has a story that sparks a bit of intrigue and, arguably, a bit of fear. What drew you to this project? And how much did you pull from your own personal experiences and emotions to help you get into the mindset of the character?
Jessica Morris: My character, Kim, in The Wrong Man is very athletic and strong but struggles with internal weakness. I find this to be an interesting combo. She runs away from her pain and fear, which I cannot completely relate to on a personal level. I usually try to face my problems head on. I might appear fragile on the outside, but I feel that I have a lot of inner strength. What’s incredible about acting, is being about to play someone who is different from you and learning to understand a different way of thinking. However, Kim’s guilt for not being there for her family and putting work first is something that I can understand quite well, as my whole family is in Florida and I sometimes wish I could be there for them more than I am able to be. That is a similarity that definitely fueled my performance.
Legion of Leia: What would be your dream project to work on?
Jessica Morris: My dream project would be a show like Westworld, Alias Grace or The Handmaid’s Tale. Shows that make you think, with female roles that give actresses the chance to play women with extreme complexities.
Legion of Leia: What advice would you give to anyone interested in acting?
Jessica Morris: My advice would be to make sure you really want this. It is a major life choice. You will sacrifice a lot. You will be criticized and beaten down. You have to realize what you are signing up for. You will not book most of the things you audition for. You could work on a huge project and then hear crickets for months. But when you do work, you will be filled with such inspiration, satisfaction and happiness. So, if you can handle all of the challenges and keep believing in yourself no matter what, then go for it because it will be worth it to live your life aligned with your passion.
Legion of Leia: What other projects can we expect to see you in?
Jessica Morris: I have a thriller called Nightmare Student that I am heading into pre-production on very soon. I am the writer, along with Melissa Archer, and the lead actress. I also have a scandalous drama/thriller/horror film that will be released next year, that I am the lead of, but unfortunately, I cannot legally discuss it yet. Once I can, I will divulge the exciting details.