Date of Birth
29 March 1981, California, USA
Jessica N. Howard
5' 4" (1.63 m)
Jessica Howard was raised in a middle-class family in a northern California suburb. She discovered dance at the age of nine. By the age of 13, she was in a dance troupe. She took her mother's maiden name and began performing in Shakespearean productions all over the Bay area.
An actor in a production of "Romeo & Juliet" encouraged her to audition for Juilliard as a drama major. She became a member of "Crew 32" with the help of a scholarship from one of the school's famous alumni, Robin Williams.
In her last year at Juilliard, she was offered a holding deal with TV writer/producer John Welles and she eventually worked in three of his TV shows. Jessica continues to do theatre, having played in "The Cherry Orchard", "Rodney's Wife", "Salome" and "Othello". She spends her time between New York and Los Angeles, working in theater, film and TV.
Attended The Juilliard School of Drama in New York and was in the graduating class of her best friend, Jess Weixler.
One of five children of a fireman father and a vegan-chef mother with a food truck. Jessica was the first member of her family to attend college.
Before her film career, she toured in a stage production of "Othello", with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Was personally handpicked by Al Pacino to play opposite him as the title character of the play 'Salome'. Pacino later recommended her to Terrence Malick, who gave her an audition for The Tree of Life (2011).
Is a Vegan.
Her idols are Isabelle Huppert, Tilda Swinton and Julianne Moore.
I was a difficult child because I wanted to be the mom.
I don't look modern. I'm not the girl that would walk into the room and everyone goes, "Oh!"
[on being directed by Terrence Malick in The Tree of Life (2011)] I would have pages of what we were going to convey, but I could say the words in any order I wanted, and sometimes we would say the same thing in many different ways... I think he will always be the greatest teacher I know. I'm trying, in the Terrence Malick kind of way of not planning and just allowing life to happen, trying to find these moments that mirror life and [are] not preconceived in any way. So that has changed me. I try to keep that freshness in things we've done.
[on rehearsals] They'll say, "Save it, save it". I tell them: "Don't worry. I have a bottomless well of tears.
Sometimes I'll have a meeting with someone and they'll say, "Oh, Sean Penn was just here and was saying the nicest things about you". You know, when you're applying for a job? These are like my recommendations. It's nice.
I get embarrassed really easily. I get embarrassed even when people sing me "Happy Birthday."
[on preparing for her role in The Tree of Life (2011)] Emotionally and spiritually, I had to figure out what it meant to play the embodiment of grace. And how do I capture that? Okay, so I start studying paintings of the Madonna at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I start listening to music that inspires feelings of love inside me, I start reading books about cultivating joy and cultivating gratitude. I start meditating.
I don't normally get into this, but I'm a vegan. And I try not to, well, I don't want to torture anything. I guess it's about trying to live a life where I'm not contributing to the cruelty in the world... While I am on this planet, I want everyone I meet to know that I am grateful they are here.