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Meet Jessica Otsé

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Otsé.

Hi Jessica, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I think acting is pretty new for me, but I’ve been modeling for what feels like forever. I first remember forcing my mom to take me to an audition that I found out about on the radio when I was 13 and then shortly after, I started modeling in my high school fashion club when I was 15 while also getting runway coaching from 16-17 years old. I’m not sure how I was about to convince my parents to take me to random gigs throughout middle & high school, but it wasn’t until I got in college that things really started to warm up.

I studied Marketing at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, GA, and throughout college, I did runway modeling for various on-campus organizations while also doing editorial modeling for different brands in ATL or creatively producing my own shoots. I was really just a passion at first, but then in the summer of 2017, I had my first real corporate Marketing internship at Target Headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I was working there for the whole summer and dreaded every single day that I had to go into the office. It was upsetting at the time because Marketing was the only major that I was interested in out of over 100 majors at UGA and I had already switched my major like ten times and said that was going to be the last option. Seeing how much I actually hated the day to day of being in corporate encouraged me to turn my passion into a career. It was that summer that I decided to create a plan to pursue both modeling as a professional career.

When I started school again in the fall, I picked up acting classes as my free electives since acting and modeling are so closely tied, and I immediately fell in love with it because it was the first time that I felt that I was doing something that let me be myself instead of fitting a box that my Nigerian parents put me in. After walking out of my first acting class in 2017, I decided to create a plan to move to LA and pursue the industry there since I’d been working in the ATL industry since I was in high school and rarely saw people’s careers take off there.

I moved to LA in March 2019 after working as a nanny and as a childcare provider at LA Fitness for nine months to save up $2,000 for the move. My older sister connected with me with her friend that lived in LA and I moved in with her for a month before finding my own place and a job through a temp staffing agency. Shortly after that, I reconnected with a friend that I went to middle & high school within Georgia who so happened to move to LA at the exact same time as I did and is pursuing a singing/acting career herself. We ended up moving in together a year later and have been collaborating on work ever since. It’s been three years since I made my move to LA and throughout that time, I’ve booked multiple commercials & modeling gigs, been the lead of a 2 season Amazon Prime series, and been in a feature film, just to name a few. It’s so crazy to see how my life has brought me to this point, and it’s only the beginning!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Astonishingly yes. Everything that I’ve did to get to this point was a faith move. I’m not sure if I always had faith that things were going to turn out good, but I was willing to stick it through until it did. I think it’s that mentality that’s gotten me to this point. I also strongly believe that God literally laid everything out for me to take, I just had to make the move.

I’m a pretty optimistic person too, so even when I was making just enough money and Ubering/Doordashing to be able to afford acting classes or a flight back home for holidays, it didn’t seem like a struggle and I was genuinely happy because I knew why I choose this path. Although it was fairly hard to constantly put myself out there, network and find auditions since I’m an introvert, everything happened in its own time.

I also have the STRONGEST support system of family and friends. My biggest headache was getting my parents to stop calling me every other day to try convince me to move back to Georgia (that was mentally exhausting). They eventually got on board and since then, I know I can count on them, my sisters, brothers, and best friends for anything.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m a TV/film actress and commercial/print model that’s currently known for my role as “Tonya” on ‘NoHo’: A North Hollywood Story produced by Emmy-winning director/producer Louis Jones. You can currently stream it on Amazon Prime and louisjonestv.com. This project is hands down what I’m most proud of because it was my first lead role and was my personal confirmation that I have what it takes to really make it in this industry. I put in a lot of work into my craft and have gotten so much better through the years. I think my resilience and dedication to do amazing work is what sets me apart from others. I’m not a naturally talented actress or model, but I’m willing to work hard to make it look easy.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
Growing up, I really struggled to balance the duality of growing up in America as a foreigner. I immigrated to America from Nigeria with my dad & older sister when I was four (my mom & younger sister came year later). On top of being taller than most of my peers until college, I had a thick Nigerian accent in elementary school, so I was self-conscious all the time. I also wasn’t the biggest social butterfly, but I always had 1 or 2 friends who were which made it easy for me to be more involved in extracurricular activities and make friends from their network.

Reading fictional books & watching TV/movies were my way of learning about the world & how to connect with people. I found a respect for TV & film through the hours I spend glued to the TV screen, rating different shows & movies. I’ve also always had a natural love for all things aesthetically pleasing which includes beauty, fashion, and personal styling. Coupled with my height (I’m 5’10), modeling felt like a natural pace to flourish.

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Image Credits
Okenna Okpareke Michael Roud Asia Asberry Tatyanna Chamere

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