We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Pappas and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jessica, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
This question has been a prominent theme since the pandemic started. In March 2020, like so many others, I had to close my business. But there’s blessings in the unknowingness of it all. At first I enjoyed the fact that all my responsibilities were put on hold. I could sit back and reflect on how I imagine my life when/if things get back to “normal.” As far as Jessica’s A List, I thought now is a good time to think of ways to make my business better. And, also a great time to do more of what I’ve always wanted to and have been fumbling around with for years, which is to write. When I opened my business fifteen years ago, my goal was to build a great brand in my field. And once I did it would allow me the freedom to write. I would be that cool chick who owns that cool business and wrote that great book or that brilliant movie. It is possible I was a bit idealistic, I suppose. It’s definitely not easy to do it all. But I didn’t account for or admit to, the fact that I would be the one to stand in my own way. I always had the belief that if something good happened in my life it would be met with something bad.
I did build a brand and I am proud of Jessica’s A-List. But I could not give myself permission to write… One success is all I get. That is what I told myself. Stay small, stay safe.
What I learned during the pandemic was that I had stopped giving my best to my business and I was too ashamed about that to give my best to my writing.
The answer to the question, do I give up my business or do I give up writing? Is neither. The lesson, for me, is to stop giving up, period. That’s how I knew giving up was not an option. Not any more, done it too many times.
Jessica’s A-List has reopened and is still being reimagined and I will keep going until there is nowhere else to go. And, writing, well I’ll never give that up. And I CAN do both. I am blessed that I can. Who says, other than me, you can’t have more than one success? Even if I never publish my book, even if no one ever sees my movies. Giving up simply isn’t an option.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a writer. I’m not sure what sets me apart, as I have not written professionally and there’s no clear answer to that. I write when I’m moved to do so. My credits are very minimal. I have written three feature length scripts. The first one I ever wrote is waiting to be re-written. It came to me in a lucid dream. It kind of speaks to who I am. A dreamer, both in practical terms and idealistically. It’s about how one mans recurring dream sets him on a path of transformation in his everyday life. Then my aunt wrote, but never published, a memoir about her and my uncle, set in Manhattans Copacabana in the 1950’s. She was a Copa girl and production singer and he was the head bouncer. It has been a mission of mine to bring their love story to life. It is a lot of fun! The script has made finalist or semi-finalist in a few screenwriting contests and won second place in one. I’m proud of that. But I’ve always wanted to make it into a series. I wrote a short that I had plans to direct in Greece. Still hoping to one day. It’s based on the Greek word Philotimo. I was so moved when I first heard of it. Just the word jolted me to tears. It’s hard to define what it means, but the meaning runs through my veins. And that is the brand I’d like to put out to the world. In my writing. My business. My life.
Then there is my memoir. It’s still hard for me to own the word memoir. Who am I to write one? I have been working on it for a long time, though. I have hundreds of pages that I am currently working on rewriting. This is the most challenging for me. It’s not easy to be honest and raw. I have to battle with my deep need to be heard and my deeper need to hide. It takes patience. And forgiveness.
The lesson is – for me – to be myself. Trust myself. And always have Philotimo.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Even before the pandemic I’ve been a bit of a homebody. Except that I do love to travel. My getaway place is Greece. BUT when I’m home, I’d rather have a dinner party in my backyard then go to a fancy restaurant. I divide my time between my house in Los Feliz and my boyfriend’s house on the West side. At my house, Griffith Park is basically my backyard. It is a great place to take out of town visitors for a hike, a picnic, and the Observatory. And you get amazing views. This is also something I used to do once a year, have a picnic at GP for my clients. A meet and greet, whoever wanted to come. It was fun. We haven’t done it in a long time, though. Then on the westside there’s the beach. One of the things I used to do all the time was roller-skate along the bike path – I’ve been known to do that with my visitors. Abbott Kinney for shopping. Malibu. I’m guilty of forgetting how beautiful LA is. By taking visitors around I’m reminded of how lucky I am to live in such a gorgeous place. Another thing I will do, next time I have a friend in town is, Kundalini Yoga at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Two friends of mine started teaching there during the pandemic. It may sound weird, but it’s pretty great.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shoutout to Dixie Webster Davis. I’m sort of bouncing from my writing to my business, Jessica’s A-List. Dixie has been a huge influence in my business, but her humanity also supports my writing. She probably doesn’t realize what an impact she has made on me. After just quitting a job in the same field, to be a full-time writer, I began to panic about how I would make a living. Dixie a successful extras casting director in Los Angeles sat on the phone with me for hours helping to quell my fears when I first opened Jessica’s A List in 2006. We had endless conversations about everything. It went on for years and we became great friends. She has a way of meeting “What-if’s” with “So what’s,” which always brought me back down to reality. She has a loving way of diminishing the power my own insecurities had on me. I am certain she is one great mother. Her kindness and compassion helped me feel I could do anything I wanted to do. I could write. I could have a successful business, too. The only thing in my way was myself. I have much gratitude for her. No matter how busy she is, no matter how intense the pressure of her job is, she’s always neutral and kind. What I learned from her in the early days of owning my business, and still to this day, is not to take anything too seriously. And not to take anything personally. She taught me to lighten up. Of course I have moments of forgetfulness, but when I lack grace, I think of Dixie and I lighten up.

Website: jessicasalist.com

Instagram: filotimothemovie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessicasAList

Image Credits
C.K. Reed Christina Scherer

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