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

Hi Jessica, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
I am by nature a very abstract, scattered person. I can get distracted very easily, especially in a business like mine where so many of the tasks are self lead. Early on in the pandemic, a friend organized an accountability group of artists from around the country who were ambitious as hell, looking for support, encouragement and someone to be accountability to for work tasks. I have worked with this group for a year and a half and can honestly say that the structure is why I have come as far as I have: I set monthly goals broken down into weekly and daily tasks, check in with a buddy daily, and have designated co-working time that I put on the calendar.

As an artist, it is easy to languish in the emotions and feelings that come with creativity, but to have a business as an artist, it takes real business acumen (which ironically most of us don’t come by naturally). Finding people with similar goals, vision and drive, who are willing to help you stay focused is as important to being in the community as collaborating on projects and networking. I am now very grateful for all my post-it notes that list monthly, weekly and daily tasks. They keep me focused and on the path.  

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love words and have been performing since I was a child- I started on stage and made a career in professional theatre in San Francisco.  When I moved to Los Angeles, I started to pursue film and television as my primary focus. I was fortunate to start my career here in a feature film called “86 Melrose Avenue” (ft. Jim O’Heir of “Parks and Rec”). When the pandemic hit, I began collaborating with friends to organize play and script readings on Zoom. This is how I met my partner, Timothy Huls. We began reading plays weekly on Zoom as a means to build community, read new plays and stay in shape. During this time we also began writing and producing short films so that we could hire our friends and keep our careers moving forward, eventually forming a production company called All New People, LLC. Under All New People we produced and performed in a live reading of Mara Nelson-Greenberg’s play, “Do You Feel Anger” and wrote, produced, directed and performed in a 5-episode television series, “Haruto” (now in post- stay tuned!) and a short film based on a short story that my college professor wrote called “Chamomile Baby” (also in post- coming soon!). So now, I would say that I am actress who also loves producing and casting.

There can be are many challenges and obstacles in this business and moving here right before a global pandemic made things more interesting. However, I found many opportunities for growth during that time because people were available to talk and connect. I made so many new friends via Zoom, attended casting director workshops, shared content and conversation with CDs and had a little breathing room to find my legs in a new city. I believe that this is an industry of mindset. There are seemingly many roadblocks and one must develop resilience and really trust and believe in yourself, your talent, your calling, and keep moving forward no matter how many nos you receive.

My teacher, Carole D’Andrea, once said to our class, “Don’t quite 5 minutes before the miracle.” This sentiment has stuck with me and comes up often when I am feeling low or lost. I love being an artist. I love making art and brining people together. Yes, I would love to do that on a large scale and be fully supported financially by my art, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t start taking steps toward that goal now. I stand for love, community and telling stories. I will continue to do that no matter where I am in my career.

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?
I love trip planning! Yes to this question!

For a week in LA:
Get a place by the beach- if you like nightlife, choose Santa Monica. If you want sleepy coffee-and-sunrise walks, Hermosa Beach.

Walk on the beach every morning then grab a latte and croissant from Tartine, Friends and Family or Proof, depending on the neighborhood you want to explore that day.

Choose 1-2 activities daily for a truly LA experience:

The Getty
The Grove and the Farmer’s Market
Hike Runyon Canyon
Go on a studio tour- preferably Paramount (when they open again)
Wander the beautiful streets of Beverly Hills and take in the gorgeous homes
Take a walking tour of Beachwood Canyon with me!
Take an outdoor yoga class- with me!
See a movie at Chinese Grauman’s
Visit the Venice Canals

Places to eat:
Yum Yum donuts are my favorite donuts in LA
Mozza for pizza
El Coyote- old Hollywood staple for Mexican Food
Lunch at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel
Dinner/drinks at Chateau Marmont (if they are open to outside guests)
Visit Thai town and choose from any of the great restaurants
The Alcove in Los Feliz is great for meeting friends, people-watching and catching up on emails

AND- if you’re feeling adventurous, drive out to Palm Springs for a night and hop over to Joshua Tree National Park. The desert is gorgeous and you will love the retro feel of Palm Springs.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people! Accountability friends: Ayelet Firstenberg, Dana Krietz, Alicia Shumay, Griffin Stanton-Ameisan; my co-producer and partner:Timothy Huls; my acting teacher: Robert D’Avanzo, my other acting teacher and cheerleader: Carole D’Andrea

Website: www.JessicaRisco.com

Instagram: @jessica.l.risco

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.risco.9

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jessicarisco1

Image Credits
Headshot Credits: Matt Kallish

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