In this month's interview, Jill talks about how she finds balance in her busy schedule, her role in an upcoming PSA commercial directed by Darren Aronofsky, and her second short film as a director-writer-producer-actress, “All We Have Left”.
How did you start acting?
I’ve been acting pretty much my whole life. I grew up spending as much of my time performing on stage as I could… acting, singing, dancing… but acting was always the thing I loved the most.
How do you handle the ups and downs of the industry?
I love acting. I just love the work. I love the intimacy of working in front of the camera. I love the connection of working with another actor. Whether it’s on set or in an audition room, I just love doing this work. If I could be acting on set every day, I would. So a few years ago I started directing, writing, and producing to create more opportunities to do just that. I have ambitious goals for my career. And the ups and downs will always be there. I just keep going back to my love of doing the work.
Tell me about what you’re working on now.
I recently finished shooting a principal role in a PSA commercial for director Darren Aronofsky. I’m not sure how much I can say about it before it starts airing… For now, I’ll just say that it was such an incredible opportunity to work with a director that I’ve always wanted to work with. I’m not sure you’ll be able to recognize me in it… the makeup was pretty extensive. But I absolutely loved working on it.
I’m also in the film “Let Them Die Like Lovers”, directed by Jesse Atlas, that has been screening at film festivals this year, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Cleveland International Film Festival. And I’m currently submitting my second short film as a director-writer-producer-actress to film festivals.
Tell me more about your new film “All We Have Left”.
“All We Have Left” is an intimate short film that follows a couple’s relationship on the five year anniversary of a school shooting. We shot the film over four days in and around my hometown of Reedley, California. One of my favorite things about filmmaking is finding talented actors that you haven’t heard of yet. This film was no exception. Edwin Modlin II and Don O. Knowlton and Hannah Awbrey give such lovely, authentic, and at times, heartbreaking performances. And I was fortunate to work with the insanely talented composer Harlan Hodges, who beautifully captured the feeling of this small rural town and the aching loneliness of the main characters.
How do you handle/approach directing and acting at the same time?
It’s definitely a balancing act. I’ve learned it’s so important to surround myself with a strong team. For “All We Have Left” that team included Kristina Kondrath and ReKon Productions, Brett Crowley, and Tracie Laymon. And we had a tiny crew that was so dedicated. Their unwavering hard work is what made it possible for me to direct and act.
What are some of your favorite ways to spend your time off?
I love to travel whenever possible. If I have a day off I usually spend it at the dog beach in Santa Barbara. In Los Angeles, some of my favorite things to do include seeing movies at the Arclight in Hollywood and walking around Descanso Gardens.
Who/What inspires you?
Movies, music, photography, art, poetry.
What is your dream role?
My favorite roles are in dark, intimate dramas and tragic romances. But as a little girl I used to run around with my cousins pretending we were the characters from Star Wars, so being in a Star Wars film would be absolutely incredible.
Do you have any advice to young creative artists beginning their career?
I’d share these words by Kayil York: “I never said it would be easy. I never said it wouldn’t hurt. I never said it wouldn’t take time. But I did say it would be the best thing you ever do. It’s worth it.”
Jill Awbrey is an actress, director, writer, and producer. Jill recently played a principal role in a PSA commercial directed by Darren Aronofsky. Additional acting credits include “Let Them Die Like Lovers” (Official Selection – Tribeca Film Festival 2018), “Waiting for the Sun” (Cleveland International Film Festival 2016) and “Shiny Baby Goats” (Finalist: Series Fest Independent Pilot Competition 2018). Jill directed, wrote, produced, and stars in the short film “Abby Undone” which was part of the Cannes Court Metrage Short Film Corner in May 2017. Jill recently completed “All We Have Left” which is her second short film as a director-writer-producer-actress.
Connect with Jill on Instagram at @JillAwbrey and on her website at www.JillAwbrey.com.