Jessica Clark Interview: Lilith, the Vampire Savior of 'True Blood'
Making the most memorable debut in HBO’s Emmy-nominated and critically acclaimed series True Blood history, actress Jessica Clark emerges fully nude from a pool of blood in front of Eric, Bill and the Authority as Lilith, the mother of all vampires. The Sanguist movement that follows the Vampire Bible worships Lilith as their Vampire savior.
The stunning Nigerian, Irish and Indian beauty is no stranger to the runway, walking in shows alongside Naomi Campbell for everyone from Hermes to Julian McDonald and has appeared in multiple coveted national campaigns for L’Oreal, Aveda, Redken and Intimissi. A UK native, Clark moved to New York to pursue acting under the tutelage of acclaimed acting coach Susan Batson who has worked with Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Juliette Binoche and Jennifer Connelly.
"It’s a fun, sexy, dark humored show, and the vast majority of the characters, at some point, have had some nudity. Everybody has had their time, and they are respectful and encouraging, so you just have fun with it. After the first couple of takes, you think, “Oh, well. I’m nude, but that’s okay. I’m used to it now. Let’s go."
Clark is best known for being the love interest in Usher’s award-winning music video, “Burn,” and most recently for her role in ABC Family’s State of Georgia. True Blood is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in a fictional, small town in northwestern Louisiana. The Season Five finale will be broadcast on HBO Sunday, August 26, 2012. The series has been renewed for a sixth season that will premiere in June 2013.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Jessica, how did you get the part of Lilith on True Blood?
Jessica Clark: I originally auditioned for a different part last year and met with Alan Ball and the writers and casting directors. They ultimately went in a different direction with that, but they were good enough to remember me months later for the part of Lilith.
I was lucky enough to get the part, which I was thrilled about because I’m a huge fan of the show. I’ve watched it from the very first episode from Season One all the way through. If I could’ve chosen a show to be on as an actor, it would have been True Blood. It really is a true thrill to be a part of the show.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That was my next question, if you had ever watched the series (laughs).
Jessica Clark: Yes, all of them.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What were you told about the character of Lilith?
Jessica Clark: I was told that she is the original vampire. In the world of True Blood, Lilith is made in the image of God, and God is a vampire. She is the first earthbound vampire and was originally married to Adam, but that did not work out, so God created Eve who was subservient to Adam. The Sanguinistas and the Authority believe that Lilith is the worldly incarnation of their vampire God.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I think Lilith is a female demon in Jewish mythology.
Jesssica Clark: Yeah. She crops up in a number of different theologies and stories. But, in the world of True Blood, that is who she is.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You and Lilith made a very dramatic entrance a few weeks ago, arising completely naked from a pool of blood (laughs).
Jessica Clark: I did (laughs). How about that?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes, how about that?
Jessica Clark: Oh my goodness, I was like, “My mother is watching this.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What did your mother say?
Jessica Clark: Everybody is super proud. True Blood is a huge show. Obviously, I have to be very comfortable with my body and sexuality. I prepared them, and they were all amazing. They knew how much being cast on this show meant to me. I’m very lucky to have a support environment like that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did it bother your wife?
Jessica Clark: We obviously talked about it a lot. I think it’s a little odd maybe, but she’s very proud of me and very supportive and encouraging. She told me I looked fabulous. If it’s something I’m comfortable with, then she’s excited for me. I’m lucky.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): It was s closed set, correct?
Jessica Clark: Yes. It’s always a closed set when there is nudity involved. A closed set basically means anybody that’s not essential to the scene. In that particular scene, there is a wedding party, so there were many people involved. You had the main cast, extras and all the crew. It was my first day, and it was a packed house (laughs). It was like, “Welcome to True Blood.”
Everybody there is so professional and awesome, though. It’s a fun, sexy, dark humored show, and the vast majority of the characters, at some point, have had some nudity. Everybody has had their time, and they are respectful and encouraging, so you just have fun with it. After the first couple of takes, you think, “Oh, well. I’m nude, but that’s okay. I’m used to it now. Let’s go.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What is the plot buildup to the finale?
Jessica Clark: Well, the Sanguinistas and the Mainstreamers are divided right now, so it could be an all-out war.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes. I’ve heard the death toll may be high. Care to share any spoilers?
Jessica Clark: I don’t think even Lilith would be allowed to do that, let alone me. Not even Lilith … and she’s kind of a big deal.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you come out at an early age, Jessica?
Jessica Clark: Yeah. It was something that I kind of always knew. I was very lucky to be raised in a very liberal home. I grew up in London, and we were never treated any differently than anyone else. My coming out process was not remotely traumatic.
I was very lucky to be in an environment where I felt comfortable to express who I was and relatively assured that I would be loved and respected for whoever I was … whoever I am. I realize that everybody is not as fortunate as me, but I’m very appreciative of that being my experience.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You probably experienced some different views after coming to the United States.
Jessica Clark: Yes. I am who I am. I try to be the best person I can be, but I do not apologize for who I am, and I’m comfortable with that. If other people have issues or different belief systems, I respect that, and I would hope they would afford me the same respect.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That would be an ideal world.
Jessica Clark: It would. We’re working on it. We are working on it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Along those lines, do you feel that a company president should publicly convey the political and social views of an entire organization?
Jessica Clark: That’s an interesting question. Certainly, even though the Chick-fil-A president made an official statement, it was something I’d been aware of for a long time. I personally think, and this is me talking off the top of my head, that I would prefer people to be honest because then, as a consumer, you have the information to make a choice that is right for you.
I would never choose to purchase anything or put my money toward anything or in any way promote or support a company that fundamentally doesn’t recognize my equality as a human being. That’s the power I have as a consumer. I think every consumer should be aware of that power, and then more could change.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You were born in London. How long have you lived in the United States?
Jessica Clark: I’ve been in LA for a year and was in New York before that, and then I lived in Paris as well. I try to keep it interesting (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You began modeling at a young age.
Jessica Clark: That’s why I went to Paris. I studied in London, and then I went to Paris. I was a runway model and did a lot of shows. I had always loved storytelling and acting. I had dabbled a little bit but had never had the opportunity to study it. Then, when I was in New York, I started working with the fabulous Susan Batson and completely fell in love with acting.
Modeling is an interesting lifestyle, and there are many great opportunities that come as a result of that, but I did feel that the parts I enjoyed were the most creative and theatrical parts. So, I wanted to explore that further and just found that acting is a passion of mine. The second my green card came through, I started acting on a professional level and came to LA.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you encounter any hardships while modeling like people constantly telling you to lose weight?
Jessica Clark: Oh, yeah. I would almost defy you to find a model that hasn’t run into that. I mean, certainly if you’re doing runways, you have to be extremely body conscious. That was something I struggled with over the years.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Badgering a sixteen-year-old to lose weight could be dangerous for a young person to hear.
Jessica Clark: Very often we’d start younger than that as well. You’re at a very formidable age in general. But, it’s a part of the industry and certainly nobody forced me to be a model. These were choices that I made, and I was very fortunate to do well. But, you have to meet certain expectations and certain criteria, and if you don’t, then that’s a significant problem. You’re away from home and your support system, and it can be very difficult at times.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Has there been a release date set for A Perfect Ending?
Jessica Clark: It’s on the festival circuit right now, and I’m expecting it to be released sometime early next year.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In wide release?
Jessica Clark: I don’t know the full distribution plan. I’m afraid you’d have to talk to the filmmakers about that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about the film and your character.
Jessica Clark: I play the part of Paris. It really tackles the themes of who we are, the choices we make and how it’s never too late to decide who you truly want to be. Paris is a high priced escort. The reason why she does what she does is not necessarily what people would assume. She meets a client called Rebecca who is in a completely different stage of her life and struggling with very different issues.
They discover each other, and there is healing, acceptance and new insight. The part of Paris was complex. She’s complicated and layered as we all are. I thought she was very human.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): John Heard also stars in the film.
Jessica Clark: Yes. He plays Rebecca’s husband. Morgan Fairchild is amazing!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you still a life coach, or are you concentrating completely on acting?
Jessica Clark: I’m full time acting now. I try and live my life that way. I still have a lot of those conversations because I truly believe in the process for myself and everybody else, but I’m not doing it professionally because I feel like it takes real commitment. As a coach, you need to be fully committed to your clients. It was important for me to choose to be fully committed to what I was doing. Acting is such a thrill for me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Any upcoming projects?
Jessica Clark: There are a couple of things in the works, but I’m not allowed to talk about anything (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I get that a lot.
Jessica Clark: I know. This part was the best thing that has happened to me, but for months I couldn’t say anything. My manager and my wife knew. That was it. Nobody was allowed to know.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you enjoy social media, Jessica?
Jessica Clark: Yes. It’s a great way to connect with people out there and to get feedback. I interact with people through my work, and they’re all over the world. It’s fascinating to me to have the immediacy of it. You can follow people all over the globe. It’s a different perspective and insight. I love that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What fills your time off from acting?
Jessica Clark: I paint, work out and run. I have a dog. We go hiking. I read a lot of books. I’m like a news junkie, so I read all kinds of publications. I’m dorky, I guess. When someone asks that question, I think, “Wow, I’m not really that interesting. No wonder I like to be other people.”
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