They say you never forget your first love, but what they don't tell you is that sometimes, you end up adoring your first love's wife. Such is the case with my 8th grade boyfriend and his badass partner Jennica. Together, they make movies (as well as adorable children), and I'm proud to follow and support their growing careers in the film industry.
Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?
Jennica: My favorite memories from childhood are of my family curled up on the couch watching a movie. We had wonderful discussions, fits of laughter, and life-changing realizations. I knew I HAD to make movies. Film & television are very powerful mediums. They inspired me to play pretend and dress up for years to come. I found that playing pretend was my favorite thing…
My career is acting focused. I began producing once I realized most of the work I was doing would never make it to market without that extra push from a passionate producer with skin in the game. I love the part of me that enjoys making stuff happen. So, I am learning all I can to make great films to bless those around me and change the world.
I am lucky enough to have worked as a producer and actor on my brother’s films since 2007. Award-winning Director Marc Hampson is literally the most artistically talented director I know. I have an uninhibited freedom on his films.
Because of our experience with Marc, my husband (Ryan Schwartzman) and I were inspired to write some of our own stories and filmed our first Purpose Pictures feature “Gordon Family Tree” in 2012. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I loved every minute, no matter how crazy and risky it was.
Parker’s Anchor” is in pre-production now. We are running a Kickstarter campaign later this summer to help us finish funding. Crowdfunding is a beast. Almost killing my spirit, it’s the hardest part of making films. But this film is so important to us that we HAVE to make it:
“Parker’s Anchor” follows a hopeful Mother, Krystal Parker, who discovers late in adulthood that she is infertile. This crushing blow destroys her marriage. Her life falls apart, she moves back to her hometown, and leans on the support of her childhood best friend. She starts over—but is she really starting over or was this next chapter the ‘plan' for her life all along? She grows in ways she never imagined and creates a loving, quirky, blended family from those she meets along the way. This journey is wholly about relationships, struggling with identity, & living life by letting go of plans.
This past week, I was cast in as the lead “Officer Rachel Willow” in the feature “Ridge Runners” filming later this summer, a drama bringing to light a story about the sex-trafficking of minors in the Unites States. It’s inspired by a true story and that KILLS me. I am honored to finally be at a point in my career where I can participate in films that have an impact on the world. I want to be challenged. I want to represent important issues. I want to make movies! I want to continue to act until I’m done here on earth.
|"Chee Chee The Monkey"|
Jennica: I paint. I always have. Ever since I was very young. I never studied, I don’t want to. I love doing it. It inspires me to make everything I do authentic. The more personal, the more people are affected. This painting of a stuffed animal- Chee Chee The Monkey –is an item I’ve had since I was very little. This was my second attempt at oil painting. I love this piece because of how strong my personal feelings are. It is hanging in my toddler’s nursery. It is the second piece in a series of 3 childhood stuffed animal portraits. I cherished every moment spent on this. Although my toddler makes it nearly impossible… I’ll be back to painting once my kiddos are school-age, I’m sure. [Check out more of her paintings here.]
|Naptime with husband Ryan|
and son Freemont
Jennica: Time & money, though I hear they are one in the same. I always have more I want to do and I always need more money to do it. I grew up without money, so it's always been unattainable. But I do what I do anyway. It’s a challenge, but I guess I like challenges… unless anyone reading this wants to be my patron. I would happily accept a check. Anytime. Seriously.
I also have all these priorities that kinda crept up on me. I LOVE my incredible, loving, sweet, hysterically funny, and romantic husband. I also LOVE my sweet, hysterically funny, and snuggly son. I really want to spend time with them now. Hanging out with them has surpassed all other desires. I find it harder than ever to work as much as I want when all I’ve never known I’ve ever wanted is right there. So, I put down my work and enjoy them. :) It’s a positive problem. I’m crazy blessed.
Kate: Tell us about a time that you bounced back from failure.
Jennica: I usually see failure as opportunity, so it is hard to think of a good recent failure. But… my first big film didn’t make it into a very important film festival that we had been assured that we were already in. When I saw the email containing the results, my stomach dropped-- I knew. I immediately felt sick. I read the rejection and just began to cry. I’m an actor, I get rejected a LOT. But this was different. I was so embarrassed, so upset, enraged, and scrambled to figure out ways to make it better. I began with my immediate thoughts about pizza & ice cream, the usual treats to fix any problems… but then furiously came up with ways to fix it. I emailed long, impassioned, logical, researched, and persuasive messages to anyone that could help. I called anyone that could help. I armed myself with reasons why I should get my way. And I failed. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. But I soon discovered that this was good. I worked harder and smarter about every other film festival. I never took no for an answer with other fests following this as well, I knew how hard I could work for a fest –after the fact- and never wanted to feel that way again, so everything I do, I do better. I know I’m doing a better job now. I am comforted that I only had to learn once. I am in good company with all other filmmakers who have ever submitted their vulnerable naked art and been rejected. I grew. I share this with others. I let go of my grudge. And it still hurts. I now know that it always will. And it makes the ‘wins’ all that much more glorious.
Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?
Jennica: When my husband asked me to marry him, I swear that was the best compliment I’ve ever gotten. I can’t remember what he said exactly, I was overwhelmed. But I remember how it made me feel. He thanks me all the time for marrying him. How could I not? He is this amazing force of love and kindness and pure positive joy and he wants to spend the rest of his life on Earth with me??!!?? I still cannot believe it.
Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work?
|Portrait of the Artist|
as a Young Badass
My most recent film, “Parker’s Anchor” is about a woman’s experience starting over in her 30’s. It felt unsafe making assumptions about a woman’s experience until I realized that AS A WOMAN, I can write whatever truth I feel—I am not furthering stereotypes. I am not destroying the feminist movement. I am not doing damage. I am a woman and my authentic experience and that of those around me is justified. I co-wrote this with my husband, which was wonderfully fun. He and I are very blessed to have a fluid connection about life experience and do not feel oppressed by our outwardly typical gender specific lifestyle. We have a mutual respect that leaves us secure and open. I credit this to his mother & father. I know their parenting had a significant impact on his paradigm & how he interprets the world around him.
As a parent, I feel this deep responsibility to intentionally shape the world for my boy. My son could be gay, could be anything, he is capable of hurting others, can build up or tear down his loved ones, has choices to make everyday—and I need to expose him to a world of love, respect, and possibilities. I need to progress and learn with the times too! I am more mindful now. I couldn’t have foreseen how I would change. But its DEFINITELY for the better.
|Jenn also works to normalize|
societal perceptions of breastfeeding.
Jennica: Ask them about what they do! I have a girlfriend from college that started her own company around the time my husband and I began our film producing business. I saw her Facebook updates and contacted her about it—she and I have this mutual respect and understanding of how hard this process was for both of us. If I hadn’t asked her directly (instead of just ‘liking’ her posts) she and I would never have REALLY connected. We ended up using her company as a sponsor on one of our films. I feel so supported by her and she feels the same. Once I connected with her, I had skin in the game, I cared too much not to support her. The personal touch really does change everything. I actively try to contact friends and colleagues about what they do & why. I am inspired to support my ladies from a real place inside that can manifest as hugs, money (ha!), ‘likes,’ ‘shares,’ good vibes, prayer, word-of-mouth, a shoulder to cry on, or any other way that is needed. Especially my lovelies with kiddos—I see tons of photos and read lots about their family, but I need to reach out and ask them what they are doing, because –like myself- they probably have a lot on their plate in all areas of their lives.
Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?
Jennica: Do what you love, what YOU love! Don’t ‘just’ follow, don’t ‘just’ learn from others, and don’t ‘just’ stay still. Once you like doing something (besides eating pizza & ice cream) do it! I LOVE to paint, I LOVE to act, I LOVE to make movies with people, I LOVE watching movies with my husband curled up on the couch, I LOVE going on long walks through the city with my toddler, I LOVE having people over for a meal and talking for hours, I LOVE cutting & coloring my own hair, I LOVE getting tattoos, I LOVE how I feel when I have alone time to pray, I LOVE being the person to take someone to the airport, I LOVE helping people move (not the actual moving at all, but I LOVE being there for people when they need it most), I LOVE making food without a recipe, I LOVE tailoring my clothes myself (but when would I find the time), I LOVE meeting new people, I LOVE tackling a problem head-on, I LOVE getting things done purely from my hard work & creativity, I LOVE spending time with family… Do that. Make a business out of that. Have hobbies. Change up your life so that you can do ALL of these things often. Once you own your life and live it freely, you will walk down the street and hear some chick say, “She’s a badass.” ‘Cause you do what you want! And others will take note and do the same.
She and her husband Ryan Schwartzman produce films as a part of their film company Purpose Pictures. They are a blossoming power couple with a toddler whose angelic smile can wipe a frown off of Scrooge McDuck! She is honored to get to work alongside fellow artists to bring important societal issues to light. Through stories one can change hearts and therefore change lives.
Find Jennica online at:
JennicaSchwartzman.com // PurposePicturesProductions.com // facebook.com/ParkersAnchorTheMovie // @JennicaRenee
Get more Badass Ladies at badassladiesyoushouldknow.com or @BadassLadiesYSK!