Breaking into the big time in Hollywood has never been easy. Countless wannabes have devoted large chunks of their time on the planet to the pursuit of showbiz immortality on the big screen. Most of them never even get on a film or television set, let alone get the opportunity to work as a featured player in a production that more than a handful of people are ever going to see.
Then there’s Southern California native Jacqueline Lovell, who grew up with a love for acting, but no real game plan for approaching it as a serious career. A stint as a nude model in her early-twenties lead to gigs in Playboy videos and a boatload of late-‘90s softcore B-flicks that established her face and figure with the Cinemax crowd. But the lovely Lovell found herself still yearning for the kind of meaty acting roles she could sink her teeth into. She decided to get out the sexploitation game and start taking some acting lessons. Lovell and her husband moved to New York and she started taking extra parts in mainstream films and worked her way up to featured guest starring roles on television shows like “Law & Order.” She also found time to helm the indie feature “Krush the Serpent.”
With her ever-evolving career on the upswing, it will be interesting to see what twists and turns Lovell’s career will take in the next few years.
What were you like growing up? ^ Growing up I was a very smart straight A’s type girl. I loved being outdoors in nature, reading books and learning. I also liked attention and would script out stories and act them out with my sister for our family.
How did you get into acting? ^ I always wanted to get into professional acting, but my mom said it wasn’t a realistic job career. I was in school/church musicals and plays growing up and when I was 19 I got into modeling and it lead to paying acting gigs a few months later.
Have you ever auditioned for someone and they pulled-out the casting couch? ^ Yes, twice on SAG films but I didn’t report it to SAG until 5 years later for fear of being blackballed out of the industry.
You’ve had some pretty sexy roles over the years. What’s your take on doing those sorts of parts? ^ I was into what I was doing at the time and had a blast. The key is to have fun and live your life and follow your dreams.
What are the biggest misconceptions about you? ^ That I must be a horrible actress to have settled for doing so many B-movies. I just took every paying acting experience I could get my hands on. I wanted to perfect my craft in B-movies instead of bomb in an A-movie and never work again.
You moved to New York a few years ago and started doing a lot of extra work. What has that been like? ^ Doing BG work in NY for two years was an experience that helped me grow tremendously as a person. It was challenging enough to be in a city that size and overcome my fears I held of being there. I fought my husband Edward for weeks before I gave into the move. I knew Edward wanted to go there to get back in touch with his root and I wanted to support him. As I learned to work the system in NY and adapt to living in a snowy climate, where it is fairly cold most of the year and learning to navigate the trains and subways to get where I needed to be, I became hypersensitive to the moods of the city. A lot had changed since 9/11 and I hadn’t been in NY since the 90’s.
Working on the NY sets I met a lot of wonderful people, who became fast friends. We all tried to help and encourage each other in our pursuits. My favorite job in NY would have to be Ed Burn’s movie “The Groomsmen” where I got to hang out with my favorite actress Brittany Murphy all day as her bridesmaid in the wedding scene.
Recently, you were featured in an episode of “Law & Order.” What can you tell us about that? ^ My first time on the L&O set was doing BG work in January of 2004. It was about 0 degrees outside with a wind chill, snow on the ground and we were shooting a protest scene outside. I seriously almost walked, it was really harsh. Even with layers of clothes on, scarf, hat, gloves, snot was pouring out my nose and my face felt like it was going to break off. One guy did leave, one girl hid. Wardrobe brought us heating pads to put in our gloves and shoes but the feet ones were defective. It was a nightmare. A lot of us were not told we would be outside in these conditions that day and took the job unknowingly. Once there you feel committed to finish, so the day progressed and finally we got to the indoor bar scene and I was chosen to play the bartender. The director liked me and shot a close up of me handing the principal actors their drinks. He asked for my headshot and 6 months later he got me an audition with the casting
Director of L&O for a principal part! I landed the role and became one of the girls in the ‘Dead Wives Club’. The episode has aired many times over the last year and I’m still receiving residuals, thanks NY!
You were also in a pilot for NBC? What was it? Was it a good experience? ^ When I found out I was pregnant, my husband and I moved to Florida where a lot of his family is to give me a chance to be a stay at home mom and receive help on being a mommy from his sister who has 3 daughters. Living is very inexpensive there compared to LA and I enjoyed the weather and all aspects of mommyhood. But after Zyla turned 1 year old I got the acting bug and looked into the scene in Miami. I started going on a lot of commercial auditions which is the big thing down there and then my agent landed me an audition for a new NBC pilot called “14 Stories”. I auditioned for the crazy, guitar playing dancer girl and felt good about it. I then went to Amsterdam to shoot “Krush the Serpent” with my husband and daughter. When I got back I had a call back for the pilot and was sure I had booked it. Two months went by and I hadn’t heard
anything. They called saying I had booked the show for the role of the psychic. I was excited! We shot the pilot at the NBC studios in Miramar, FL and it was financed by Hilton. Officially we were shooting under the EnterAktion Studios label, so NBC did not have exclusive rights to the show. The entire show was shot on Blue Screen and is a futuristic/comic book type world, with CGI characters that interact with the live actors. It was an amazing experience and the director/producer took the project to LA to pitch to different studios, but with the whole reality TV taking over everything it was put on the backburner so to speak. To date the director/producer moved the entire company back to Los Angeles and is still pushing for the show to be picked up. The technology is there for a prime time TV show like this to air weekly, this would be the first of its kind.
You made your own movie “Krush the Serpent.” Can you give us an idea what it’s all about? ^ We shot “Krush the Serpent” in 2002. I came up with the story idea and my husband Edward wrote the script. I researched Amsterdam’s history of Catholic miracles and the Shrine of Our Lady of All Nations which is the primary focus. The story revolves around a woman who is trapped in darkness after here husband is killed in a car crash and she is left alone with her young daughter. She goes on a pilgrimage to Amsterdam to try to find closure and peace in her life. This was my first feature produced/directed/co-written by my husband and myself. We learned so much about the whole process of what it takes to bring an idea to fruition in a feature film and enjoyed every challenging moment of it. We had few permits and had to steal many shots. The film sometimes has the feel of a documentary/raw movie because we literally were grabbing moments and moving on. We tried to give the impression it was just a home video so we wouldn’t be arrested, etc. It was exciting and I hope we can get financing to shoot more films in the future.
Other members of your family were involved? ^ Yes, we used most of Edward’s family in the movie since they were readily available to us at any time to shoot what we needed in the script. Edward’s sister Christy Nyahay is an actress/singer so we gave her the supporting role of Angelica, my character’s best friend. For the rest of Edward’s family we gave little day player parts that they easily perfected. Edward’s sister Carrie Magalski played the role of “Mary, Our Lady of All Nations” beautifully. Dr. Edward Nyahay, my husband’s father, who is an AP and counsels children played my psychiatrist. And of course this was my daughter Zyla’s first movie and I think she is a natural!
So, what have you learned from working in showbiz? ^ It has its peaks and valleys, sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down, you just have to enjoy the ride and love what you do.
What’s your advice for aspiring actresses looking to get into movies? ^ Background work led me to many principal roles so I strongly support doing that. Don’t settle for fast cash with porn. Go to a good acting studio where good agents can see you.
What’s your ultimate goal in show business? ^ To have fun, meet new people and share our lives and experiences and make cool movies/TV shows etc.
What’s your message for America’s youth? ^ Follow your heart.