The Porcelain Doll of Hollywood.
by Inna Race
New York Fashion Week. New York’s Cutting Room. The Uomo Moderno Fashion Show.
I am backstage where Francesco Di Maio, editor of Uomo Moderno, and his team is getting ready for the event. The scene is teeming with designers, models, stylists, and photographers…
Everyone is talking about the night’s featured star, JamieLee Ackerman.
The show is about to start, when Richard Ackerman—JamieLee’s husband and producer– takes me to meet the star.
I am walking into a dark room and see a stream of light pouring over something that looks like a porcelain doll, who was having her hair and makeup done by a team of stylists. Her posture and skin are so perfect and delicate, to the point that one wrong move could shatter it. Then, the doll suddenly smiled at me shook my hand… It’s alive! It’s JamieLee…
I’ve been watching and following her fearless performance for a few hours that night; then I managed to talk her into a mini photo session in-between the many hair and wardrobe changes. What can I say? Even in the dark, without any special preparations, we manage to get some cool shots!
After we hugged goodbye and promised to stay in touch, I am pleased to share some personal secrets that an up-and-coming actress and model agreed to share with Private Paparazzi Production fans.
Private Paparazzi Productions: We would love to know more about you. We know that you are an actress; that you dance; sing; you are an acclaimed designer, making a name for yourself at the Peter Mark Academy. Please tell as more about yourself and your artistic journey.
JamieLee Ackerman: I started Dancing at 7 years old. I studied Disco Dancing and Tap Dancing. My childhood was not the easiest we didn’t have much money for me to go after my passion of performing! That never stopped us scrapping up the weekly cash to be in the best Drama, tap dance and, majorette classes. I also used my wooden board in my bedroom to practice tap dance on! My mirror in my bedroomwas where I studied and practiced my facial expressions, which become characters in my own imaginary movies! At the age of 11, my brother was tragically killed in a car accident! My Family fell apart. I lost a piece of myself! And I lost my focus in life my dreams were put on hold. This made my teens very difficult, and I lost my way for a while.
At 14 years old, I left school to pursue a career as a stylist. I did a four-year apprenticeship with the prestigious Peter Mark School, completing their program with highest honors and winning many awards. Soon thereafter, I started doing editorial work and won stylist of the year! This was a huge deal for me, because that opened more doors to my eventually being the stylist for [the band] Celtic Women and doing a US tour with them. Amongst many other things. I was behind the scenes in the entertainment business. I was being creative and artistic as a stylist but I knew it was not for filling me and something major was missing.
I moved to NYC on an O1 Artist Visa that was very difficult to achieve and built my own salon in SoHo, NYC, because that’s what I knew to earn a living. But I came to America to chase my dream of acting, and that was missing. In short order, I started again to chase my real passion: performing, so the first thing I did was to start dancing. I bought a pair of tap shoes, and found a couple of great teachers! This changed my life. As soon as I started dancing something, awakened within me… I wanted to start acting again; the hunger was still raging inside me to find the major piece that was missing in my life and dancing was my stepping stone in the right direction. I started taking acting classes at the New York Film Academy and knew I was on the right path. I was recommended to study at the prestigious Susan Batson Studio in Manhattan. It was the perfect fit for me, I loved it! I found my way. Acting (especially Method Acting) was definitely what I was looking for. It connected me to self-examine myself and my past. I felt as though that part of my past that was lost, because it was too painful to look at, after losing my brother many years ago. Method acting allowed me to use my past for my creativity. After going to classes at the school, Susan Batson and I finally had a private meeting. I shared with her so much about who I am, and a lot about my difficult past and childhood. She asked me to perform a short piece for her, which I did, and Susan filled up with tears. She told me that I am a “natural-born actress; what I have is rare, and if I can allow myself to access those difficult places, I’m going to be a Very Important Actress”!! From that moment, I got that validation I needed. I was so shocked and so moved that a legend like Susan Batson would tell me what I have always known in my soul, but I guess I was just too afraid… I didn’t believe in myself enough to come out and say what I really am and what I really want from my life.
PPP: We know that among other things, you been working with the folk rock band Celtic Women. Can you please tell us more about that? How do the band members respond to your personal success?
JLA: Yes, I was a personal stylist for Celtic women for Tours around the USA prior to immigrating to America. It was a great experience and most likely one of the reasons I knew I wanted to live here. I am not directly in touch with the band any more, except now they follow me on my social media!
PPP: Where does your inspiration come from?
JLA: My inspiration comes from my need to prove myself and my love for performing.
PPP: What artists from the past or present have influenced you the most? What the most interesting people you had to work or dream to work with?
PPP: What exciting future projects are you working on?
JLA: I am about to sign for two new movies that I am not at liberty to discuss yet. That said, I am very excited about both of them because I love the writers and filmmakers involved.
PPP: How do you balance your personal and professional life?
JLA: This is a challenge for me. Very tough! This is a great question because I am really having a very hard time with that right now… My work life is 24 seven! I’m also married to a very busy businessman, so trying to spread myself between everything can be very difficult. I’m a very hands-on person; nothing goes out on my website, or social media, or in my salon in New York City, without me working extensively on it! At my JLA office, I definitely have great team members who have to be driven and super ambitious. I’m always coming in with different creative ideas and trying to figure out how to execute the ones that will be worthwhile for my career and for my amazing fans. I refer to my JLA team as Work Horses, because we truly never ever stop chasing the dream! I never lose focus of anyone on my team or what each person’s dream is, so it’s very important to me that everybody shines in his/her own arena! So we have open dialogue and discussions about not only my brand but how my Artistic JLA team can also be inspired.
PPP: What is your typical day like?
JLA: I wake up early and start my day with a writing exercise, talking about my near-future goals and dreams. I usually do about three pages! I got this from the book The Artist Way. It’s for all artists, and it has really helped me to keep focus and believe in myself. Then I start my diction exercise, and then I do my accent exercise. Then I usually go over the script that I’m working on. Whenever there is no script, I would always be working on a future monologue that I will have on the ready to walk into an audition. Then, I go either to Yoga, or gym. Lastly, I go to my office, and work begins. I typically work a 12-hour day or more!
PPP: What has been your biggest struggle as an artist?
JLA: I would say definitely believing in myself. This has been a deadly road I have to climb to be where I am today. To be honest I work every single day on being able to have faith in myself.
PPP: How would your professional life as an artist differ, if you were still in Ireland?
I think there is much more opportunity as an actress here in the USA! Especially LA and even New York: Lots of TV and movies are happening here these days. Films are being shot in the USA not just in LA but places such as North Carolina, Texas and New Orleans, and Chicago have offered major incentives. If I lived in Ireland, the pool would be way smaller.
PPP: What is the most unforgettable experience in your career, thus far?
JLA: I would say the most forgettable moment in my career was Susan Batson crying and telling me that I have something where that not many people have what I have, and if she didn’t find me some other acting coach would have! And that I am going to be a very important actress.
PPP: As your Private Paparazzi, we want to know, are there any secrets that you would not mind sharing with us today?
PPP: If you had a chance to do something different in your life, what would it be?
JLA: This is a great question! And I will probably surprise you with one of my answers [laughs]. I think if I weren’t acting and doing some modeling, I would be dancing! But I’m a very spiritual person and love having God in my life. For me, this is not religion; it’s having spirituality and faith in a higher power. I probably would consider being a rabbi, as I’ve been converting to Judaism for the last number of years, because I married a Jewish man. We have the most amazing spiritual rabbis: it’s a husband-and-wife team, and I just love the spirituality they share. We spent two weeks in Israel with them and it was mind blowing! We meditated together and sang together, and it was just such a spiritual awakening of sorts.
PPP: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming artist?
JLA: Be patient. Live in the moment. Know that wherever you are in your career at any given moment, it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be. There is no Yellow Brick Road, no path to make it as an Actress. It’s going to be different for every artist. Don’t give up. Try and listen to the people, who are experienced, and learn from them. Take what you need from the knowledge you pick up, and apply that to your career. If it does not work for you, it’s more fish in your pond that you can use as experience in your performance.
PPP: And last but not least, can you tell us the secret of your porcelain skin?
JLA [laughs]: Thank you!! If I am being honest, I just got lucky with genes. I have all ways had skin like this. But what I do is allways have sun screen on and I I’m very carful in protecting my skin.
Keep chasing your dreams!
Actress ✦ Model