Cassie Jaye: The New School of Hollywood
by: Jeff Hightower (with guest interviewer Heather Cosper)
Click here to visit Cassie's myspace
Back to the nest...
Promotional poster for Live Bait.
One the set of "Cosmic Radio" with
Jonathan Sachar, Lesley Paterson,
Cassie Jaye and Taboo.
"An actor must interpret life, and in order to do so, he must be willing to accept all experiences that life can offer." - Marlon Brando. No truer words have been said by one of the greatest actors of all time. And this is a good definition by which to sum up actress Cassie Jaye. From a very young age, she has been burning the candle at both ends and experiencing life to the fullest. And with that said, the words of Sir Alec Guinness come to mind, â€œ"An actor is at his best a kind of unfrocked priest who, for an hour or two, can call on heaven and hell to mesmerize a group of innocents." And this is where she excels. And Cassie has proven at the age of 21, that Hollywood has its new â€œitâ€� girl. She has already enjoyed success with appearances on â€œEntourageâ€�, â€œAliasâ€� & â€œThe O.C.â€� In the words of Director James Greer who worked with Jaye on â€œDiegesisâ€�, "Cassie Jaye has two unusual qualities in an actress of any age, but especially in one so young: fearlessness and intelligence. A lot of actresses have talent. Very few have the ability to actually create a character out of a few scraps of my poetry and her own insight and hard work, on incredibly short notice, as Cassie did on Diegesis. I would gladly work with her again, but in a very short while I'm afraid I won't be able to afford her." So with a budding film/television career on the horizon and some very noteworthy roles under her belt, Cassie has done the impossible. And that is to come out of nowhere to emerge in Hollywood as a complete package. She brings brains, looks, talent, and determination to the table. The work is hard and the hours long, but she wants it and will put in her miles to earn it. To put it in the words of long time friend Stephen Savage, director of â€œCosmic Radioâ€�, â€œThere is no one more dedicated or hard working than Cassie. With her talent, breathtaking beauty, and dedication to craft, she is destined for greatness.â€� So without further delay, we welcome the talented & lovely Cassie Jaye to the Hornetâ€™s Nest. ____________________________________________________________________________ HM: What brought little Cassandra Nelson from Fort Sill, Oklahoma to the bright lights of LA to become actress Cassie Jaye? CJ: Everything in my life has led me to this point, and Iâ€™m so thankful for all of those experiences and circumstances. I was blessed with a family that encouraged creativity and exploration. Itâ€™s hard to say what specifically brought me to acting, but it was a gradual and intuitive process. My father was in the military, so we were traveling a lot when I was a toddler. After living in Oklahoma and Louisiana for a couple years, we settled in a small suburb of Seattle, called Brier. I was always busy with a number of extracurricular activities. I was involved with all sports for every season: softball, basketball, tennis, soccer, golf, snow skiing, and I was even taking singing lessons, and heavily involved with my church choir. I loved trying everything and coming to my own conclusion on whether it was right for me. I started gymnastics when I was 6 years old, and after intensive training, I began competing, and swore that Iâ€™d be the next Shannon Miller. However, when I was 12 years old, I took a hard fall off of the balance beam straight onto my neck, and thatâ€™s when I decided I didnâ€™t love it enough to continue. My mom was relieved. At the same time, when I was about 10 years old, my sister, Christina, two years older than me, had decided she wanted to try acting. So, my parents, always being supportive, got her into a community theatre in Seattle called Taproot Theatre, and I tagged along. Weâ€™d make the trek to the city for rehearsals twice a week, and the performances that lasted for a couple months. I guess my â€œstaring performanceâ€� you could call it, was when we performed a play (all the young actors wrote) called â€œCookside Elementaryâ€�. It was about these kids that started disappearing one by one and the next morning there would be a new lunch menu, with items like â€œKatie Surpriseâ€� or â€œSloppy Jack Specialâ€�. Kind of barbaric now that I think of it, but I played the principalâ€™s daughter who was a catalyst in the whole conspiracy. I was actually extremely shy and quite as a kid, so when my family saw me perform on that stage as a strong and confident 10 year old actress, you can imagine their disbelief. Right after I turned 14 years old, I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, with my mom, stepfather, and sister for many different personal reasons, but basically a change of scenery, quite the polar opposite from the waterlogged, vegetative city of Seattle. We resided in Summerlin, a beautiful community on the Westside of Vegas. I started my sophomore year at Palo Verde High School. Somehow weeded my way into the theater scene there, but only to get dancer or singer type ensemble roles, which I was distraught by. So I decided to action into my own hands and looked for acting classes outside of high school, and that was when I found my acting teacher and soon to be mentor, John Armond. I was getting into the years of my life when I had to make a decision on what to do after high school, and I knew it in my heart, but never had the guts to say it out loud, that I really wanted to pursue acting, as a professional career. I started in Johnâ€™s teen class at 15, and by the time I was 17, I had the opportunity to audition for his adult class and I made it; being the youngest to ever be in this class. The material was more challenging, and my will power was tested. That was when I knew without a doubt in my mind, I was meant to do this. So I asked John about college, and he said â€œdo you want to teach acting, or do you want to be an actress?â€�, and so I started making my plans to move to LA, but of course I had to finish out high school first. My senior year of high school, I was ready to leave, but I took advantage of all the opportunities. I was taking college courses despite knowing that I was not going to college, but I still wanted to be challenged. I also tried out for the cheerleading squad on a whim, not thinking Iâ€™d make it because the girls on the squad had been competing since they could walk, and yet, somehow I made the Varsity cheer squad my Senior year, and went to Hawaii to compete in the national tournament there. Also, for some reason or another, I started working when I was 16 just for the experience. My first job was a smoothie place called â€œJuices Wildâ€�, I worked there one summer, and then started working at my neighborhood Starbucks at 17. I always had fun with it. I enjoyed working, but I knew I didnâ€™t enjoy anything as much as I did when I was acting. So, in short, I was 18 years old, just graduated High School, moved to LA to pursue acting, not knowing a soul in town, but somehow with faith and determination I made it here, and that was one big goal of mine accomplished. HM: Whatâ€™s it like that first day you stepped onto the set to start filming? What was going through your mind? CJ: The first first day I was on a set, was when I was 16 years old and I did a local commercial for the community of Summerlin, Las Vegas. It was just a fancy house rented out with a bunch of people with walkie talkies and hats and shades. It was exactly how I pictured it from seeing movie sets on TV! There were cameras on dollies, big white boards reflecting the sun, a make-up artist powdering my face every 5 seconds. I was totally star struck even though there were no stars, but I guess I was the star for that moment. It was surreal, and since I was technically a minor, I got to have my family with me, so I always felt comfortable and at home. HM: Whatâ€™s a typical day in the life on set? CJ: A lot of waiting around. The ongoing joke is â€œhurry up and waitâ€�. I swear, every set Iâ€™ve ever been on, someone has said that! I always try to bring a book or script to read, but I always luck out with meeting really cool people on the set, so thatâ€™s how the time flies by, just getting to know people, hearing their life stories. Itâ€™s also a great character study for acting. You have to be able to relate to anyone and everyone. HM: How did you go about starting your career as an actress? CJ: I read all the acting books before I moved to LA, so I knew the steps on how to get started: headshots, building a resume, making a demo reel, finding an agent, but one thing I had to learn on my own was how to network. Itâ€™s all about surrounding yourself with good people in the industry who encourage you and support you, and theyâ€™ll also help you along the way if they can. Iâ€™ve been blessed to have been given great opportunities to meet wonderful people in this town, and itâ€™s up to me to nurture those friendships, and not get lost in the bad parts of this industry, like drugs or partying. Always keep your head up and mind focused. HM: You recently received your SAG card (Congratulations). What was that moment like to have reached such a point of notoriety in the film industry? CJ: Oh it was such a big personal achievement of mine. Iâ€™ve been plugging away trying to join the Guild for some time now, and there were many times before that I was promised my membership after doing a film but it would fall through over and over again. It was getting to the point that I thought I would â€œdie non-unionâ€� (laughs) which really upset me, because I felt like I was working so hard. I do believe everything happens for a reason, and it came at the perfect time! HM: What lesson could you give to young men and women such as yourself who are looking to get into acting? CJ: You have to have drive, and that will only come from within. You have to commit your life to it; itâ€™s not going to happen overnight. Also, really ask yourself â€œwould I be happier or just as happy doing something else (besides acting)â€�, if the answer is yes, then do that other thing. The life of an actor is far from easy, but if your heart is really in it, then itâ€™s all worth it in the end. HM: Of all the people you have worked with, who is one that has left a lasting impression on you the most? CJ: Thatâ€™s a hard question because so many people have left impressions on me and are still leaving impressions on me. However, honestly, the first person that comes to mind is actor Rider Strong. I met him while filming â€œCosmic Radioâ€� in July 2006. I only got to spend one day/evening with him. We were the only two actors not filming that day, so we went to dinner and started chatting away. It was an â€œaweâ€� moment for me because I grew up watching â€œBoy Meets Worldâ€�, almost religiously, and I donâ€™t get star struck very often now, but before I even started thinking about acting I was watching him on TV, when I thought that everyone in the movies werenâ€™t real, and it never even crossed my mind that Iâ€™d meet one of them one day. But what left the lasting impression on me from Rider was: he not only gave me acting and industry advice, but he gave me philosophies to live my life by. He was so down-to-Earth and kind-hearted. I havenâ€™t seen him since that day, but Iâ€™ll always remember his advice and outlook on life. HM: â€œCosmic Radioâ€� just premiered to a raging success at the Palm Springs Film Festival. How did you feel going into the premier and what was it like to know all the filmâ€™s showing had sold out? CJ: I was thrilled when I heard the news that Cosmic had sold out, but that emotion was instantly overrun by distress! I was without a ticket to my own premiere! (laughs) After about 24 hours, they announced another showing in a bigger theater, so thankfully I jumped on tickets for that one, but I was definitely worried there for a sec. HM: What are some of the current projects you have on the horizon? CJ: I try to steer clear of talking about projects too much in advance because plans always change, but I definitely have some scripts Iâ€™m looking at and projects in negotiations. Of the ones I can talk about is a film called â€œBeautifully Brokenâ€�, hopefully to be filmed this Fall with director/writer Timothy Whitfield. Itâ€™s about a young girlâ€™s struggle for self-discovery and sense of belonging. One of the best scripts Iâ€™ve ever read. I also just shot a sitcom pilot with Paramount studios last week called â€œThe Perfect Familyâ€�. Itâ€™s about a wealthy dysfunctional family that has a foreign exchange student from Africa who wants to live the â€œAmerican dreamâ€�, but is confused by his host familyâ€™s lifestyle. Letâ€™s hope that it gets picked up, but you never know. I also just received word that my short film â€œDiegesisâ€�, directed by James Greer, was accepted into the Clermont-Ferrand International Film Festival in France. Itâ€™s the largest short film festival in the world, and I am so proud of this film, so I hope it is received well there. HM: When all is said and done, what do you want to be remembered for the most in your career? CJ: Wow, this is a loaded question, and something I need to ask myself everyday, because the answer is ever-changing. I guess when it comes down to it, I want to be able to translate important stories that matter to film. I want people to be affected emotionally, to provoke change in them, whether itâ€™s expanding their mind to a subject theyâ€™ve never known about before, teaching them about human behavior, stories they can relate to in their personal life, or simply making them laugh and have a good time with friends. Whatever the film does to the audience, I want it to be something helpful or useful in some way. As a kid, my window to the world was through movies. I learned about different people, cultures, and lifestyles through that medium. Books do the same thing, but Iâ€™m a visual person, so films were my resource of choice. I just hope that I can make films that change peopleâ€™s lives, because so many films have changed my life. (By: Heather Cosper) Do you ever get tired of being famous? CJ: (laughs) I wish I could tell you that once you get past the paparazzi and worst dressed lists, then the fame ainâ€™t so badâ€¦ but Iâ€™m not quite there yet. Actually Iâ€™ve only been â€œrecognizedâ€� once so far, and it was by Apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas, of all people. I ran into him at the mall summer of 07, and he recognized me from being in â€œCosmic Radioâ€� with fellow Black Eyed Peas member Taboo. I guess Taboo, showed his band his scenes from Cosmic, and Iâ€™m in all of Tabooâ€™s scenes with him. It was a very funny encounter to have him recognize me! But to answer your question, I havenâ€™t experienced the bad parts of fame yet, but I know the bad reviews, the paparazzi, and the rejection come with the territory, and thankfully I love my job enough to deal with all the other stuff. ____________________________________________________________________________ We at Ambient Level Music would like to thank Cassie for taking time from a very busy filming schedule to sit and talk with us about life in the world of Hollywood. If the measure of someone is by their actions, Ms. Jaye looks to grow into one of the greatest of all time. And along the way, sheâ€™ll never forget where she came from or the hard climb up that mountain. We wish her the best and look forward to watching her career take off. From the nestâ€¦ HornetMan