School of Theatre, Film & Television

Before she was into theatre, Jess Scott played football.

Scott, a senior at the School of Theatre, Film & Television, was interested in theatre, but her high school football schedule – the team had made it to the playoffs – kept her from auditioning. But that all changed when she suffered an injury.

“Miraculously, I got hit in the head really, really hard in the last game of the season … which meant I could audition,” she said.

Jess Scott portrait
Jess Scott

(Today, Scott is acting and directing in the New Directions Festival, April 21-30, in the Harold Dixon Directing Studio.)

The experience she had in her high school theatre group enhanced her love for performing and creating, and was her first serious form of artistic expression. However, going into college, there was still this weight of pressure from the people and world around her, preventing her from doing what she felt passionate about. 

“Going into college, I started off with computer science, which again, just went with what people expected of me … but I was really kinda miserable in that too, it’s just not how my brain works.”

She made a decision to follow her passion.

“It was the same point that I made the conscious decision to come out to people that also made me decide to change majors to theatre …because doing theatre was the one thing that I knew I truly loved doing.” 

Deciding to come out and deciding to pursue theatre used the “same reasoning that I was going to choose what I want to do in my life, and stop going with what is expected of me to settle and be miserable.”

Once Scott made the dive into full-time theatre, she began showcasing and further developing her writing and acting through events such as the inVisibility SALON, and the New Directions Festival in 2022. debuting a piece she wrote “A Beautiful Tapestry.” She describes her process of creating as getting “super transfixed on something she just can’t let go of” that usually revolves around something that is important to her personally. 

Jess Scott and Taylor Swingle in Cailan Compiercho’s TORMENT, by Cailan Compierchio, directed by Jess Scott, dramaturgy by Sophia Hartigan. The New Directions Festival showcases six brand new short plays that are student-created, student-designed, and student-performed. Photo by Tim Fuller.

“It feels like the things I end up writing and developing into a piece are ideas I couldn’t let go for whatever reason, and I just needed to have it out there somewhere.” 

 An excerpt of a play she wrote entitled “t4t” debuted at the inVisibility SALON this year, which was a piece about a trans woman trying to navigate dating while dealing with her own thoughts, and inner conflicting dialogue. 

“The whole idea is to build to one moment. I want to build for a moment and make it hit as hard as possible … I like art that does not hold back.” 

When asked about what makes theatre and art meaningful to her own life, Scott describes always needing a performative space to keep going. It has become an essential part of life, and provides her an outlet to fulfill what pushes her forward. 

“The most important driving factor in my life is building mutual understanding with others, to have you see them and them see you even just for a moment…art is the purest and fastest way to be able to do that.”