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: 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.
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: 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).
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: (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?
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: 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?
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: 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?
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: 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