Jessica Henderson, Actor

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***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

A Twitter like on a round-up post on web series created  by women introduced me to Jessica Henderson and Growing Down. The friendship chemistry between the characters hooked me from the first episode.  At the time, I added Jessica to the Thursday Interview invite list. I’m glad she said yes. Enjoy!

Name:  Jessica Henderson

Company: Growing Down

Launch Date: Summer 2016

Motto: “Grab Life by the struggle”

Every production has a team — how did the Growing Down team come together?
The idea of Growing Down sprung from a failed web series that we tried to launch the previous year. The project failed honestly because I didn’t know what I was doing and I, Jessica Henderson must learn all lessons the hard way.  But Arielle (co-creator) and I weren’t willing to give up on the idea of creating something. So we bought the script, and assembled a whole new team. The script was strong, but it needed to be edited. So Jeff Davis came on as our writer. Mind you the inception of this series was over 5 years ago now! While we loved the scripts, we had no idea how to bring it to life. As it happens Jeff is also apart of a production company here in New York, so with the funds of a humble Indiegogo campaign we began to look for a crew which was mostly influenced by Flash Films  (the production company) and friends! We brought many people on set who were simply willing to help.

What’s the story behind the show’s tagline “Grab life by the struggle”?
Well first see above, the start of this project was a struggle that we decided to turn around. Also isn’t it how you existed in your 20s? I think the idea of the series is pushing to explore; and this is unintended. In life we push to create, earn, be, whatever, but many times we push and find out we pushed in the wrong direction. We didn’t like the idea of a series where you magically got it right on the first try. Our characters are not caricatures, they’re closer to real life. And in “real life” one does not always succeed on the first try. But the women in our series are not just sitting around complaining about their situations, they’re fighting against them and thru them. That’s where the humor comes from, the fight against the struggle. I guess to bring this analogy full-circle, the “situation” of the motto is our bull’s horns…. Like a joke, it’s never quite as fun when you spell it out…

The production process for the show from idea to YouTube was…..
Girl……….BYYYYYEEE……ROUGH. Like most zero-sum-budget productions, money is always our enemy. We found out quickly that this is not everyone’s passion project, i.e. not everyone was willing to work for free. The first season we pushed to shoot our 3 episodes in one weekend and then took an excruciating amount of time to bring it together.

There were a lot of key learnings there for us, so season 2 (while still a growing phase) is in a better place. We know where some of the hurdles will be, and we know how to get our videos finalized quicker! Those past struggles and those that are inevitably in our future will help us as we tackle this season, three, four, and beyond.

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Growing Down cast

What advice would you share for anyone who wants to produce and market a web series?  Don’t sugarcoat.

Why would I sugarcoat?! You can’t! The most important thing to remember while producing a web series is to do it out of love! (I know that sounds like a quote off Pinterest) but I say this because more often than not, a web series also implies low-budget, and low-budget work is HARD. So you have to love what is hard to do. Also, PLEASE have something to say! Find a topic you’re passionate about, and start!

It doesn’t have to be as technically proficient as our work (or perfect), just start putting your thoughts out there. The most important thing we learned is consistency. We’re having to correct this mistake now and learn from it in a very hard way.

Fast forward to a year from now, what do you want to be sharing about Growing Down and your career?
I have to laugh at this question because my career is Growing Down. I have dove in and fallen head over heels in LOVE with this project. Meanwhile my parents are asking when I’m going to settle down and get married! …I digress. A partial reason I began this project was to crush a few stereotypes. As a black woman in the arts, I can not indulge another underdeveloped stereotypical role; you know the ones.  By early 2017, I want this web series to help other women, people of color, and young artists to find the courage to create, and if you have something to say FUCKING say it. Don’t wait for someone to offer an opportunity – create it! I believe that a web series is a tool to create your own brand and ultimately gives you more control and access to a career. Also I’d like to have filmed a third season by that time and have our viewership tripled if not more. Right now my goal is to keep this train moving and bring those inspired on board!

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This is your chance to shout out to crew, collaborators and supporters
O my! So many people. Where do I start?

  • My family
  • Arielle Yoder (co-star/Creator)for grabbing my hand and jumping of the cliff with me. Also telling me I’m funny.
  • Jeff Davis (writer/director) for introducing me to Flash, developing the script of season one, directing,writing season two, and occasionally telling me I’m pretty.
  • James Monahan (co-producer) for collecting all my thoughts, dreams, hopes,and plans then putting them in a google doc.
  • Hannah Suesy (Production Coordinator) for staying on the phone till early hours in the morning, talking me thru EVERYTHING
  • Alex Nader (AD)- for being the boss bitch that she is.
  • Peter Westervelt (DP) for believing in us enough to donate his time and expertise.
  • Lauryn Hamel (co-star) for agreeing to be a part of this crazy process and her friendship. Also telling me I’m funny.
  • Alex Rose for living with me thru season ONE
  • Malloree Hill, Zach Nelson, and Eric Lommel for talking photos for us on a billions separate occasions.

As I sit here and write all this…. I think about how grateful I am to be able to write this many people’s names down!

  • The rest of the crew of season one, that got paid pennies but still helped (Alec, Diana, Adam Deen, Roxanne, Ariel, and Eric). The rest of the cast of season one (Alexandra and Adam). THANK YOU!

  • Lastly my friends: Jophie, Libby, Channing, Katie, Kim, Chris, Alex Nader, Frankie, Jordan, Josh, Emily, Bree, Grace, Hannah Driscol, Sebastian, Tash and Nicole.

A huge thank you to Jessica for sharing her funny without sugar coating.  You can stay updated on new Growing Down episodes and Jessica news via YoutubeFacebookInstagram  and Twitter.


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!  
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

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Thursday Interview Alum News: LISA’S ADVICE returns with LISA’S BABY ADVICE

 

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Lisa’s Baby Advice: Seeing in Color

Regina Taufen and Anna Christopher have updated their twisted and award-winning web series Lisa’s Advice  with Lisa’s Baby Advice.  The newest webisode is ‘Seeing in Color’and it is BEYOND cute.   That’s all I can say because you need to check it yourself.

Lisa’s Advice

Photo via

Frank Williams, TOO BE FRANK

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Too Be Frank production photo

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers, small business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Thank you to Buppy Hipster for introducing me to Frank Williams Too Be Frank web series because I love to support and promote people  who are not waiting for permission to find the audience for their creativity. Too Be Frank debuts TOMORROW at 9pm  on YouTube, but first grab your beverage of choice to meet the man behind the series, Frank Williams.

Name: Frank Williams

Occupation: Program Administrator / Actor/ Producer

Motto: You must crawl before you walk.

My current project is Too Be Frank

Describe the moment you knew you had to share Too Be Frank with the world.
So, usually on Facebook I limit my family, Producers, and Directors in the industry that I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I forgot to limit one particular person I did a show for. He calls me up one day and only says “Your Facebook statuses…” and I am floored becoming extremely nervous. However, he follows with, “…IS HILARIOUS!!!” He tells me they are comedic genius and he suggested utilizing my Facebook status into a series. I thought about it but I wasn’t sure I could produce something of that nature. I’ve been working on so many other projects and web series helping other people rise, which was a joy and fulfillment for me. So, I wasn’t confident I can do what they do … on my own. Until, I was at dinner with another a producer who said, “you’re always working hard for others, that I think it’s time for your own show.” So these reassurances gave me the confidence and strength to research the art of writing and film making.  

The production process for the web series is…
…HARDER THAN PEOPLE THINK! I strive on quality when it comes to my craft. I’ve never written or produced anything of this capacity a day in my life. I am strictly an actor. Well, I used to be strictly an actor. One major true blessing is I was introduced to an incredible videographer (Lexx) who had the equipment and drive that exceeded my expectation. Then I reached out to a fellow actor friend of mine, Glenn Quentin, to direct. They both do an amazing job, which is why I put 100% trust in both of their fields. There is also the casting which is hard when you don’t have any production material to show people you want to cast. Therefore people are hesitant or decline because they don’t trust or know your vision will come to life bigger than expected. However, after releasing my trailer and word of mouth from my screening, the casting has become a little easier.

My favorite episode (so far)…
….is the Pilot. I love the first episode because it sucks you in with the different scenery of New York and the rush I get from knowing this is the start of my baby. My first produced TV Pilot and I get goose bumps every single time.

What are the challenges of creating a web series?
The major challenge is definitely funding! I produced this entire project from my pockets. God Bless my mother, who I adore to pieces for helping me out. Other than her help, no one has given me a dime for this project. However, that is okay because when I look back at what I sacrificed to make this come to life, it liberates me. BUT FUNDING AT THIS POINT WOULD HELP! I am liberated enough (hehe) … Another challenge is definitely editing. It takes hour turned into days just to edit 15 minutes. Lexx strives on perfection in the editing room. If one finger is pointed to the right in one shot then pointed upward in the opposing shot, then the scene has to go or he does everything possible to make it work … AND I LOVE THAT! It’s like a real TV show. Huge blessing!

Fast forward to October 2016, what news would  you love to be sharing about Too Be Frank.
I would love to share that Too Be Frank has been picked up by Netflix or Hulu and WE ALL STAY!!! If a TV network can pick it up … EVEN BETTER! I just really want to make this series grow. These people have turned into my family, so I want my family to come ride the success of the show with me. I want us ALL to make it to the next steps.

This is your chance to shout out to your established and soon to be supporters….don’t be shy.
I just want to shout everyone on social media who shares, likes, comments on the series. That support right there is everything because social media makes up 95% of the success in the entertainment industry right now. Also my family support is amazing because people who I am in this world is hard…so with their unconditional love and support is hands down all I need to keep moving. My mom sacrificed everything to move to New York City with me to help pursue my dream and passion … and every day I fight to get closer to it because she didn’t have to do that, so I REFUSE to fail and let her down. I am also going to shout out my non supporters who doubted me. Who laughed at me. Who thought I would fail and this project would be a flop. Well, their hate motivates me to produce something beyond my wildest dreams… SO I THANK THEM TOO (hehe). Also shout out to Shonda Rhimes, Tyler Perry, Lee Daniels, etc. because they show us little people out there that if we hustle and work hard, we can get OUR work out there to the masses. I might be producing a little ole web series, but my vision for success is out of this world. I pray to God I can keep going and do this because this is all I dreamed of since the age of 2. So…to be frank, I didn’t move to New York City to sleep or fail…SO LET’S DO THIS!!!! ❤ Thank you so much for this opportunity!

And after you enjoy tomorrow’s premiere,  you can get more Frank via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Watch, share and support!

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