Since she was 2 years old, Ella West Jerrier wanted to be on stage.
The Preston Hollow resident started with dance, became interested in acting, and began performing in local plays and musicals.
(ABOVE: Ella West Jerrier (left) stars in a scary Lifetime thriller. Courtesy photo)
“She’s always had a really big personality and has never been a shy kid,” her father, Jay Jerrier, said.
After a dance teacher/acting friend introduced her to an agent at The Campbell Agency, she did a few commercials, print ads, and industrial training videos.
Ella, now 12, improved her acting skills by working at the Acting for Film School in Lewisville and with Cynthia Bain’s Young Actors Studio in Los Angeles, and starred in her first television movie this fall.
“I love the challenge of trying to make the audience feel sympathy for your character – even if she may not be such a nice person.” -Ella West Jerrier
Lifetime’s Terror in the Woods follows two best friends, Rachel (Jerrier) and Kaitlyn (Sophie Grace), who become entangled with a spooky Internet-based urban legend.
The controversial thriller deals with such weighty issues as mental health and online safety – heady topics for a preteen actress.
“She has always been very safety-focused, so this movie was a good reminder of how things can escalate so quickly and to be aware of things – especially with this being based on true events,” her father said.
Aside from a couple of heavy days of shooting, the whole experience was a blast for Ella and her family.
“Well, all days weren’t as intense as you would think, but research was key for this part, and being on set with my best friends always makes me happy,” Ella said. “I am just honored to be a part in this powerful message.”
Child actors are limited to only so many hours of work per day, so there was an on-set teacher to make sure the children did schoolwork, and there was always an advocate present to make sure the kids were safe and not stressed out, Jay Jerrier said.
Oddly enough, Ella said she worked longer days in her normal life between school and dancing than she did on set.
As a result, it felt more like fun than an actual job, she said, adding she became great friends with her co-stars and the crew, learned so much about filming, and loved being on set.
“I love having the ability to tell a story and the power to be able to help people,” Ella said. “I love the challenge of trying to make the audience feel sympathy for your character – even if she may not be such a nice person.”
Her father’s advice for children interested in acting: Don’t just memorize the lines; also understand the intent behind them. Everyone has to be prepared every single day on set.
Enjoy the opportunity, regardless of whether it goes beyond the audition or not, he said. “You should really treat every audition as a 3-4-minute show starring you. If it goes beyond the audition – all the better.”