Jackie Dallas

From medicine to modeling and movies

Born in Syracuse, New York, actress and model Jackie Dallas now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, by way of Miami, New York City, and Chicago. Even though she was on the road to a successful medical career, Jackie made the decision to leave medicine and pursue her true passion; acting. Now being able to focus on acting full time, she’s landed small parts in a few major productions, such as the soon-to-be-released San Andreas. Her more prominent roles include the very pregnant Maggie in Jay Davis’ horror parody, Not Another Zombie Movie….About the Living Dead and Terrell Holden’s drama, Catching Broken Glass, in which she portrays a war veteran suffering from PTSD. In addition to that, she made a recent IMDb list of the “Top 40 Asian Actresses Under 40 to Watch for in Hollywood,” which is another good indication that she won’t be regretting her decision to leave medicine for acting.

Also an experienced model, Jackie, being a car enthusiast, got her start doing import car show modeling at an event she used to bring her car to. She currently has an impressive portfolio that includes a Mélange fashion show and a very recent RAW:natural born artists event, in which she modeled for top San Francisco makeup artist Adrianna Reloba. As of this writing, Jackie’s in Atlanta, one of the cities very dear to her, where she’s shooting scenes for some yet-to-be-announced film projects. Above photo by Lisa Keating.

Audio excerpts from Jackie’s April 28, 2015 interview. Full transcription below.

Jackie Dallas
From a 2014 shoot with Corey Alexander Crowley of Vampman Studios
CHRIS CHARLES: I’d like to start off with something I’m curious about. I read your bio, and I know you’re Korean, raised in a Korean family, so “Dallas” can’t be your family name. So, it has to be either your professional name or, even though I haven’t caught any mention of a spouse, your married name. Which is it, if you don’t mind my asking?
JACKIE DALLAS: No, I don’t mind. Dallas is actually my legal married name. I met my husband when I was living in New York and when I found out his name was Dallas, I was like “Wow, yeah, that will be perfect for my future career” (laughs). I don’t have a lot of (online) postings with him just because he’s not in the entertainment world. We met in my pre-entertainment previous life and he kind of tends to stay away from the limelight.
CHRIS: Ahh, I see. So, you were born in New York, moved to Florida where you went to school. You graduated from med school and went back to New York and then to Chicago before coming to the Bay Area. Correct?
JACKIE: That’s correct! I moved around quite a bit. I consider myself a Floridian at heart just because that’s where I grew up. That’s where my childhood memories are, I went to college at the University of Florida. I always wanted to do acting, but being raised in an Asian household, my parents wanted me to pursue something a bit more ….secure, a bit more professional (laughs). So, I decided to go into medical school. There’s an awesome medical school in the Caribbean, on the island of Antigua, and so I went to the American University of Antigua for medical school, which was a cool opportunity to both do med school and also live in the Caribbean for two years, which was awesome. Through that course of training, it took me to Miami, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and, at the tail end, Chicago.
Jackie Dallas
Outside AT&T Park for a GMC commercial shoot earlier this year. Unfortunately, Jackie wasn’t featured in the final cut but she says “it was an awesome experience anyways having the whole stadium to ourselves with the players!”
CHRIS: So what brought you to the San Francisco Bay Area?
JACKIE: My husband is in the medical field also, and he ended up getting a job here, so we relocated here to the West Coast.
CHRIS: So I assume quitting medicine to go into acting was a tough decision to make. How did your family feel about that ….I mean, did they try to talk you out of it or say you were making a mistake?
JACKIE: Coming to the decision to leave medicine, was very difficult. It’s hard to walk away from something after you’ve put so many years behind it. Like achieving a certain goal. Going through med school is not a short nor easy task. Once you’ve gone through the blood, sweat, and tears, the debt, the time (laughs), it’s definitely not something you walk away from lightheartedly. With that being said; acting is something that I always wanted to do ….and I kind of think, in an alternate universe, I probably would have gone to NYU for film or theater school, and who knows where I might have ended up, we might have gone down this path first (laughs), but I always wanted to do acting, it was always my dream and through a series of events I was put in the position where I had the option to choose whether I should continue to do medicine, or move to California with my husband. Since I’m relocating and starting over from scratch again, I thought I’d just take a year or two to just kind of test out the acting business, see how it goes, you know, pursue my dreams, so that I don’t have the “what ifs?” My degree will always be there. That experience will always be there so, if things don’t pan out, I’ve got a solid backup plan. Plus, I’ll know that I gave it my all and I really pursued something I believed in.
Jackie Dallas
Marshall Beach in San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Photo by James Mancusi.
CHRIS: And your family is supportive of your decision?
JACKIE: Yes, because they know that I’m coming from a very secure place. This decision took a lot of thought, a lot of deliberation. I consulted with them and definitely talked through the entire process with my parents. They know where I’m coming from. Of course, my husband supports me fully, which is wonderful and I was able to make the decision that I did because I have a very strong support system that believes in me.
CHRIS: That’s great. The main reason I asked is because I lived in South Korea for several years, so I know how Korean parents can be. So, I was wondering how your parents reacted to you told them you wanted to leave medicine to peruse acting, but that’s great that they’re supportive and you have a solid backup plan, So, moving on; you currently have a few film projects in post production. Which one should be out next?
JACKIE: The main one that’s going to be coming out next is going to be a movie that I did background work on; San Andreas. It’s got Dwayne Johnson in it and it’s going to be coming out, probably in a month, May 29th. Aside from mainstream blockbuster movies (laughs) I actually just released my very first indie movie that I was the lead in called Catching Broken Glass. The director was Terrell Holden and our cinematographer was Dan S. Tong, who did the shooting and the editing for it… we finally got the final cut up and running so I just posted that on my webpage and my Facebook page, so I’m really excited about that.
CHRIS: Another of your recent films I caught was Not Another Zombie Movie ….About the Living Dead. I’ve only seen trailers so far, but obviously it’s a parody of zombie films and I see that character you play is pregnant. So, is your character a parody of the pregnant character from the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead?
Jackie Dallas
As the very pregnant Maggie during the filming of Not Another Zombie Movie….About the Living Dead
JACKIE: So, I have a funny confession to make. Um ….I have an irrational fear of zombies (laughs nervously, as if just talking about zombies gives her the willies). Growing up, I never watched zombie movies because they just frighted the living hell out of me. So, I will go so far as to say I didn’t see that movie but I did watch Shaun of the Dead (laughs), which is a slightly different movie.
CHRIS: Oh, yeah, Shaun of the Dead. That’s the Bozo the Clown of zombie movies.
JACKIE: Right, haha! So, it is a parody, obviously with the name “Not Another” you know, part of that whole line of movies, it is a parody. My character, is a loose interpretation, but I don’t think she’s based off of the character from Dawn of the Dead.
CHRIS: Do you know the character I’m speaking of?
JACKIE: I do, yeah, yeah, no, I do, I understand. So, my understanding was that she was a zombie and he husband wanted to have the baby even after she “turned.” My character is ….a survivor during the zombie apocalypse. I can’t give away what happens to my character but she’s a loose interpretation of her. There is a birthing scene, which is funny and awkward at the same time (laughs).
CHRIS: Ahh, I see. I thought you might have watched the film to study that character to decide what about her you’d spoof.
JACKIE: It kinda just parodies any pregnant woman with her cravings. I mean, there’s one scene where I’m literally eating …I told the director; “Wouldn’t it be funny if my character was just eating throughout the entire movie?” In ever scene that I’m in, I’m eating a pickle in one scene, I’m eating chocolate donuts in another, and he shows up to the set with a bag full of goodies and I’m like; “Oh, this is going to be awesome!” and he says “No, I want you to eat all of it at once” (laughs).
Jackie Dallas
On the set of NBC’s Chicago Fire last year
So, there is a scene in the movie where I’m literally munching on a dill pickle, chocolate donuts, and potato chips all in one sitting, so luckily, we didn’t have to do too many takes of that because that was a little much (laughs) ….but very funny.
CHRIS: Okay, I’ll definitely have to catch that when it’s released.
JACKIE: A couple of weeks ago, it was released in Chicago, the town it was filmed in, so a lot of the local people got to come out to the theater and watch the premiere. I believe Jay Davis, our director, should have it available on DVD and I’ll be providing the link for that on my website.
CHRIS: In Catching Broken Glass, you play a veteran who did two tours in Afghanistan. There’s very little dialog but you can see what’s going on with her. Did you talk to anyone or study anything in particular to help prepare for that role?
JACKIE: During my (medical) training, I worked at a couple of different VA hospitals between New York and Chicago and I do remember encountering a lot of patients who suffer from PTSD. A lot of them were veterans from the various wars, so, I drew upon my observations of them. I drew upon the symptoms and issues that a lot of them faced. And then, in Catching Broken Glass, we take it kind of one step further, as well. Without revealing too much, my character suffers from PTSD that waxes and wanes. During the day, she’s able to keep herself together a bit more but when it becomes dark, she falls into not just PTSD, but heavy psychosis, as well. So, it’s a very dark movie. Definitely a psychological thriller that kind of explores how deeply war trauma can affect a person.
Jackie Dallas
At this year’s RAW event at the Ruby Skye nightclub in San Francisco. Photo by Tom Martinez.
CHRIS: I see. Now, you were great in the role, so don’t take this the wrong way, but I though it was interesting that you were cast as the war vet. I would have felt that the actor who played your neighbor, whom your character stabbed, that he would have been more appropriate for your role and you in his role. I mean, you don’t fit the stereotype or look the part of a war vet.
JACKIE: (Laughs) Right, right. There’s just a quick one-liner (in the film) in regards to my character’s role. She wasn’t deployed as a combat troop, she had more of a behind-the scenes role. When the helicopter she was in got shot down ….that was not part of her day-to-day duty. Does that make sense? She wasn’t constantly in the battlefield.
CHRIS: Yes, I know women are still barred from most combat roles in the military, but like I said; you were great. It just made me scratch my head why you were cast in that role because, just by looking at the cast members, you’d think the guy who played the neighbor would have seemed like the obvious one for that role.
JACKIE: Well, another thing is that Terrell Holden and I spoke at length prior to the filming and one of the things that he feels very strongly about in his filmmaking, and it’s important to me too, is diversity and kind of breaking these Hollywood standards. I think this is becoming a little bit more prevalent. Nowadays, even in television, you see a lot more racial diversity and you see a lot more women in certain roles and I think he kind of wanted to go in that direction. So, he knew he wanted to cast a female for the role and if could specifically get a minority female, I think he was tentatively thinking in that direction prior to us meeting, and then when we met and spoke about the project, it kind of just clicked with both of us. We read a few scenes. We kind of gave it a test run and we said “Let’s do this, It’ll be great.”
CHRIS: Okay so, speaking of diversity in casting, do you feel you’ve ever been chosen for a role because you’re Asian, even though the role didn’t require an Asian actress?
Jackie Dallas
Promo for Catching Broken Glass
JACKIE: I understand that one of the biggest reasons my mom did not want me to go into acting initially, was because she knew it’s very hard as a minority and a female, to be able to snag such a few number of roles to be able to make a living out of it. If you look at the Hollywood film industry, the main Asian actresses you can think of; maybe Maggie Q, Lucy Liu, there’s just not a lot of them and even though you consider them very successful Hollywood women, they’re very limited in their roles also, and I think about one of the things I set out to do when I decided to come back into acting, now that I see that times are starting to change, a lot of shows are diversifying their casts. A lot of great TV shows have an Asian character and that character doesn’t have to be Asian, but the do cast an Asian character and I think it’s refreshing. I have actually read scripts for roles that asked for a Ninja character, an assassin character, a martial artist character, or a Geisha or a concubine, and I’ve turned down certain roles simply because I don’t want to be viewed as a certain stereotype. I have worked very hard to try and establish myself as an actress first and as an Asian actress second.
CHRIS: How about the other side of the coin; ever feel you weren’t chosen for a role because you were Asian?
JACKIE: I feel like that probably happens more than anyone would like to admit. There are certain situations where I completely understand. For continuity reasons, like for a family scene, the entire family would have to be Asian for that to be realistic (laughs). And sometimes, depending in the setting of the film, they’re looking for something more Midwestern, or maybe something that takes place in the 60s. I know there were fewer Asians back then, in certain areas of the US and I understand that filmmakers want to keep a certain amount of realism, and I can appreciate that.
Jackie Dallas
From the Treasure Island shoot with Randy Dickey
CHRIS: Okay, now let’s move on to you modeling work. A little earlier this year, you were part of a RAW (natural born) artists event at the Ruby Skye nightclub in San Francisco. Tell me about that.
JACKIE: That was an incredible event and an amazing venue. Raw events showcase independent artists in the area. They showcase fashion designers, filmmakers, jewelry makers, painters, sculptors. Any kind of independent artist is welcome to showcase what they do best. I was cast to be one of Adrianna Reloba’s models. I’d worked with Adrianna before at a previous fashion show called Melange and when she needed models for this (RAW event) and she asked me, I was very excited and said yes right away! She did a series of makeup for women, showcasing a different decade for every model and I was the first model to walk during her showcase. I represented the “roaring twenties.”
CHRIS: You’re also a makeup artist, aren’t you?
JACKIE: (Laughs) As a hobby.
CHRIS: Where did you get your training, was it sort of on-the-job?
JACKIE: It was just sort of on-the-job, yeah.
CHRIS: I saw a couple of photos of you doing some FX makeup, putting scars on zombies.
JACKIE: Yeah, yeah, most of the time, unless a makeup artist is provided, I do my own makeup for my shoots and through modeling I was able to experiment with more dramatic makeup, contouring, learning about the different facial structures, and I have friends and I would do makeup for them, so I just kind of picked it up along the way. When I was working on Not Another Zombie Movie, we worked with an amazing special effects makeup artist, John Vitiritti and his crew, and I picked up a few tips from them because on some of our extra days, we’d have 100 extras show up and they all needed to be zombiefied, so it was a good learning experience in special effects makeup (laughs).
CHRIS: I see you’ve done shoots in some pretty awesome locations like the San Francisco Courthouse, where you wore some wedding gowns, and the Palace of Fine Arts. Are those among your favorite locations?
Jackie Dallas
Photo by Oova Fotografie. Dragon tattoo by Miles Maniaci of Great Lakes Tattoo
JACKIE: The Palace of Fine Arts is definitely one of my favorite locations. I never knew that even existed here. It looks straight out of the European past (laughs), like some ancient civilization. It was beautiful, it was breathtaking. It really helps kind of transport you to a different world.
CHRIS: Where have been some of your other favorite locations, in any city?
JACKIE: Also in one of the bridal shoots I did with Randy Dickey Photography, we went to Treasure Island and we did this windswept chiffon wedding dress shoot with the City skyline in the background and I thought that was a really amazing location. It was a little chilly, I will admit (laughs) but it was a beautiful location. I also like doing casual shoots, too. There’s beautiful beaches in Miami and you can’t really top that for casual settings, and I’ve done more gritty and more urban shoots. My friend Corey Crowley of Vampman Photography has produced some of my favorite urban photos in Chicago.
CHRIS: Your bio states that you started in indie films, so I assume you’ve also done some behind-the-camera jobs as many indie actresses have done?
JACKIE: Yeah, I feel like in independent films, everyone kind of pitches in and does what they can to help out, whether it be makeup, which I help out with as much as I can, or props, which everyone is kind of responsible for, or wardrobe. The only thing I haven’t really had a lot of experience with is directing and producing, which is going to be one of my next steps. I’ve collaborated with an amazing team here in San Francisco called Kaleidoscope Productions and their work promotes diversity in film. It’s starting small because it’s a new company, but we’ve come up with a series of Vine videos. In the second batch, I’m hoping to be able to direct a couple of my ideas and get a feel from behind the camera, for a change, and then go from there.
CHRIS: Okay, great. Well, let’s see, you’ve already answered my next question. You live in the San Francisco Bay Area, but hung on to your New York phone number, so I assumed you were still a New Yorker at heart, but you say you’re a Floridian at heart?
JACKIE: Well, the thing about me is I travel a lot and I fall in love with every place I go to (laughs).
Jackie Dallas
Modeling for AMS Motorsports in Atlanta, circa 2010
CHRIS: So, let me ask you; is there anything you miss about New York that you just can’t get or can’t see in San Francisco?
JACKIE: New York has ….I don’t know how to phrase it… (laughs). New York and San Francisco are two completely different cities. The feel is different, the vibe is different, the sense of urgency is different. The food is different! I feel like San Francisco is very laid back. The weather is beautiful all the time. It’s easy to see why people love San Francisco. New York, I feel, people either love it or hate it. I loved New York so much. It’s a city for the go-getter. If you don’t have the initiative and the ambition and the drive to get up and just work hard every day, that city could quite literally swallow you up. I kind of thrived on that excitement. I loved the fact that you can do anything at any time of the day. It could be four in the morning and you can get anything from tacos to pinatas to watching a comedy show… There’s something quite liberating about that. The city is so large, you could easily slip into anonymity (laughs). So many different restaurants, different bars, you can go to a different place every day in New York and they’re all just spectacular. San Francisco is great too, but I get more of a sense of community here. It’s just a completely different vibe. I come into the city to work all the time, but I don’t actually live in the City, I live in one of the suburbs of San Francisco, but it’s a completely different lifestyle too, you know (laughs). I have a car and I go to the grocery store and do these very suburban things I haven’t done in years because when I lived in New York and Chicago, I lived downtown, so it’s a different lifestyle. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different.
CHRIS: Okay, well changing gears here; I notice a few tattoos, most prominently, the dragon on your lower back. Is there an interesting story behind that one?
Jackie Dallas
Despite having what she calls an “irrational fear of zombies,” Jackie made a good one in a recent commercial for Fremont Toyota.
JACKIE: I have seven total. The other six are kind of small, easily-hidden pieces. They’re just a couple inches at most. From 18 and ever since, I always wanted a big piece but I couldn’t decide what to get and I’m a firm believer that you should put a lot of thought into tattoos. They should mean something to you and it’s very permanent and very personal. So, I wanted to make sure when I got the big one that it was exactly what I wanted. I decided to get the dragon tattoo during the time period when I transitioned from medicine into acting. I was getting ready to get married and getting ready to move to California with my husband and I kind of viewed him as my protector. He was the one who kind of gave me the strength and freedom to pursue my dreams and do what I’ve been wanting to do for so long. A dragon to me, is not an outwardly aggressive creature. To me, it’s always been a protector. It’s always protecting a castle or a treasure or a girl in a tower. If you look at my dragon tattoo, it’s not in an aggressive pose, it’s in a more protecting pose. And then I have a Kanji on there which stands for “triumph.” I put triumph on there because I was going into a field that I was meant to do and to have the luck to succeed in it. But also, when I was leaving medicine, which has its own set of obstacles ….I was walking away from medicine on my terms. I was walking away having been successful in medicine. Not walking away because I couldn’t do it (laughs). So, that symbolism was very important to me.
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or interests that most people don’t know about?
JACKIE: Hmmm, that people don’t know about. I feel that as you get older you have less and less time for hobbies (laughs). Oh okay, so one little-know fact: I really like cars. I’m a big car fan. My dad loves cars. I feel that in a lot of ways I was trying to be the awesome son that he never had. He has two daughters (laughs).
CHRIS: So, classic American cars, sports cars, or ….?
Jackie Dallas
On the runway during Mélange 2014 at the Regency Center in San Francisco. Photo by Aaron Zhong
JACKIE: All different kinds. I’m gonna say I lean a little more toward import cars, exotic cars. That’s something I have an appreciation for. Porsches, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Bugattis. All these exotic cars, of course, they’re very attention-getting. When I was in high school, I took my own path down into the car industry. I worked on a Dodge Neon, which is really not a head-turner (laughs) but it’s such a light car. My friend and I, we were working on this car together, it was his car, and we actually dropped in a 2.4 liter engine into this tiny little thing and once you took a lot of the excess weight off, once you got it all timed correctly, and put in a new transmission, and extended all the pipes ….once we got done with it, it was a pretty fast car and I just remember that was the beginning of my own personal obsession with cars and since then we’ve worked on a Honda del Sol ….I had a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spider for a period of time. Took her to a lot of car shows ….we’ve placed in a few of them. Um ….Volkswagen Jetta I’ve worked on ….a lot people have Honda Civics ….and this is all kind of “Fast and Furious” sort of stuff, but I want to say that I got in to all of this pre-Fast and Furious (laughs). So, I was one of the original car girls.
CHRIS: Have you ever done any car show modeling?
JACKIE: So, I have done some car show modeling. There is a huge car show called Nopi Nationals that takes place in Atlanta. I would go with whatever car that I had at the time and, I had a couple of friends in the industry, one of my friends Ray Ray from AMS Inc. He recruited me one year and I got to do some import modeling with his company and again for the Bullrun Rally in New York years later ….yeah, you could say that import modeling was the beginning of my modeling career.
CHRIS: Okay, well with that, I’ll say it’s been a pleasure talking to you this evening, Jackie. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
JACKIE: I would like to give a shout-out to my husband, who has been very patient with me and very supportive of me. He has kind of made this whole transition possible, and he’s hoping that when I’m rich and famous, he can stop working too! (laughs)

From a shoot with Chicago photographer Uwe Gsedl. Hair and makeup by Diem Angie

From Papa Roach’s “Face Everything And Rise” music video

Jackie with Maria Fernanda Gonzalez in 3 Day Rule from Make it Happen Entertainment

See more of Jackie at:


About the author

Editor-in-Chief at // More articles

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.


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