We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Marshall and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Leaving the military, I was broken in body, mind and spirit. I wanted to serve for 20 years and retire, not get out due to circumstances far beyond my control. My entire life was wrapped up in who I was while wearing the uniform and it was really difficult for me to find self worth after transitioning out. Like many other veterans, I was dealing with mental health challenges. In my mind, I had two options – go to the VA and sit in group therapy and risk feeling mocked or belittled or audition for independent films that required a strong emotional range. The former was free, but the latter option would help pay the bills. Given that I’ve always been open about my struggles, it was a no-brainer. I chose to deal with the losses I faced in a unique way…by working those emotions out in front of a camera. (Important note: most therapists recommend against this, but I didn’t know until after I had built this career. Thankfully, I no longer have to tap into past experiences when I need to be emotional on camera – but it sure helped when I was starting this journey.)
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What sets me apart?
Definitely my work ethic and focus on the business side of the craft. Actors are very much artsy people but many of them do not have a lot of business acumen – it’s a constant struggle. Being able to market yourself and your skills as a product is something that is uncomfortable! At the beginning of my career, an acting teacher told me, “You can be an actor who rivals Meryl Streep but if no one has ever seen you perform, you simply don’t exist.” That really motivated me to get out of my bubble and promote my work. I know some really incredible actors who just don’t self-promote (and therefore don’t work much) and some mediocre actors who tend to work often. It’s all about being business savvy. Early on, I was easily able to separate Jennifer Marshall the product from Jennifer the mom. Jennifer the mom wears sweatpants, loves her morning coffee and hardly ever wears makeup. Very different than what is seen on screen.
How I got here…
I read a book called A Year of Yes. The author goes on dates with every single person who asked her out for an entire year. During her journey, she reflected that some of the best dates were with people she never would have considered dating. When I moved to LA, I followed a very similar philosophy. For an entire year, I went on every single audition offered to me with the exception of one particularly sketchy sounding one. During that year, I made connections all over Los Angeles and worked on a variety of projects. Some were duds, some were great, some went nowhere. But when I started, I was never “too good” or “above” working on something and those connections and can-do attitude have served me well years later.
Lessons learned along the way…
As actors, we work the least amount of hours on set. Respect and cherish your crew and realize as actors, we are being paid very well for a jobs millions of people around the world would love to do. Lastly, never take yourself too seriously. 🙂
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Southern California is by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve lived. Let’s assume my best friend had never been here and she flew in Sunday night and was up for anything…
Monday – leisurely breakfast at Brite Spot Diner on Sunset followed by a day of relaxation at a Korean spa. End the evening with a walk on the Santa Monica pier.
Tuesday – hit up The Hungry Fox in Sherman Oaks for some eats and then head over to the Galleria for some retail therapy.
Wednesday – stop by for some morning java/tea (my favorite is the Sweet Lady Gray) at Moby’s Coffee and Tea Company in North Hollywood and then enjoy a nice walk around the Hollywood Reservoir. Finish up the afternoon/early evening by checking out the Walk of Stars and local shops.
Thursday – head into Beverly Hills and see how the rich and famous live. Drive around, look at the palatial homes, head over the Rodeo Drive and end with dinner at The Stinking Rose.
Friday – spend the day hiking. The app AllTrails has hundreds of hikes in SoCal, taking into account every fitness level. End the day at La Maria, a small Colombian restaurant on the border of NoHo and Burbank. The empanadas and arepas are delicious and I’m sure to stop in whenever I’m ever in that part of town.
Saturday – watch the sunrise at Vasquez rocks followed by breakfast at The Halfway House Cafe in Santa Clarita and then a visit to the Gibbon Conservation Center. Before heading out of town, catch some coffee at either Honu Coffee on Lyons or Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders on Soledad Canyon.
Sunday – morning jog in Griffith Park followed by a van tour to see where all the celebrities live. Bonus points if you wear big sunglasses and pretend to be famous yourself.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
After working in the tiny film and TV market of Norfolk, Virginia, I made the leap to Los Angeles in 2013. I had booked everything there was to book in the town only famous for having the largest Naval station in the world and I was hungry for growth. Success in Los Angeles is hard to come by and I wouldn’t have the much needed support, friendship and camaraderie without Pin-Ups for Vets. Pin-Ups for Vets is an award-winning, Congressionally recognized non-profit that raises funds to support veterans and active duty service members. It was here that I was able to connect with so many female veterans and be able to give back to the veteran community at large through visiting veteran’s hospitals, nursing homes and Wounded Warrior detachments. This organization allowed me to connect with other veterans who truly understood me and some of those vets have become like family to me. I will always cherish the love, support and strength I have found from my fellow Pin-Ups.