By Joe Cardoso
Founder, Nuts and Bolts Sports
If we had to describe our featured guest in one word, I would say driven.
I’m excited to be back with a new Movers and Shakers Q&A interview. Movers and Shakers is a series is to highlight people in whatever industry they are in, that are making noise, and about to go to the next level.
From Los Gatos, California, she’s a model, actress, producer, and director. NBS readers, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Jessica Rizo.
Joe Cardoso: At what age did you begin to perform?
Jessica Rizo: Let me start by saying hello, Movers and Shakers, and thank you for having me!
At a very young age, I began orchestrating variety shows and performing any chance I had. I started actually making a living as a performer in 2005. I was booked for a Holiday Inn Express national commercial. Shortly thereafter, I shot the pilot for “Deal or No Deal,” which really set my career in motion.
JC: When did you say to yourself, “Yep, this is what I want to do for a living.”
JR: Admittedly, my journey as an entertainer has been a challenge. I struggled with the starving artist mentality, so I always kept a corporate job in the interim while getting my feet into the industry full time. I’m a worker, so for better or for worse, I excelled at many things… landscape design, mortgage lending, gold trading, film production, you name it. It may have hurt my entertainment career in some regards, yet in others, it helped me. It helped me because I treated the industry as a business. Therefore, I learned very early on to never take the rejection negatively, but used those rejections as fuel to keep going. You need that mindset to succeed in any industry or business.
Having another demanding career may have hurt me, because it was not until these past couple years that I fully accepted the fact that to truly be a successful actor, I have give it my undivided attention, no matter how much I may suffer financially between gigs. So it became an all or nothing pursuit in these past two years, after 12 years of being in and out of the industry.
JC: What genre of film is your favorite?
JR: I love all types of film, though I tend to gravitate to sci-fi, drama and action thrillers when I sit and watch movies on my own.
JC: People have no idea what it takes to be in movies and produce them. In a nutshell, what’s the process like for you?
JR: The process is different for every actor, director, producer, and so on, but one thing that is consistent for everyone is the work. It simply never stops. From one audition to the next, meeting, after meeting, call after call, constantly knocking on doors until you open that one: the one that changes the face of your career. The process for me will always consist of relentless devotion, humility, and faith of self. I really humbly believe in work. There are no shortcuts to success.
JC: How do you stay in shape and find time for fitness?
JR: Fitness and health are truly a lifestyle for me. There is no such thing as finding time, but rather making time. I am very regimented when it comes to clean eating and rarely skipping out on some form of physical fitness daily. Right now, I am doing a 12-week transformation program thanks to my personal trainer, Sherrod Belton of Rodletics. I have a custom diet and fitness regime tailored to my goals. I make adjustments with work as best I can, but I’ve stuck with it so far and I love it. (Instagram: @Rodletics)
JC: You are a jack of all trades as far as music, modeling, acting was that always the plan and what do you enjoy the most and why?
JR: I have dabbled in everything entertainment-wise, navigating my way through the ups, downs, ins-and-outs of Hollywood. I have even been behind the camera, directing and producing a feature-length documentary about basketball on Skid Row. All things considered, I love acting the most. I believe everyone has a gift or gifts and believe that mine is the gift to act. Most actors haven’t had a third of the life experiences I have had, so consequently, I am able to channel my performances from a very authentic space of personal experience. Its natural, and I love really sinking my teeth into the heavy material. It’s a challenge that I’m extremely passionate about. I cannot imagine doing anything else.
JC: How do you go about picking what roles you will or won’t take?
JR: I believe in quality productions and material where I can really showcase my talent. Sometimes you do career builders on network or studio projects with little to no lines for the experience or exposure. Having paid my dues in that regard, I am at a point in my career where I am pursuing speaking roles on scripted television and studio film. I shy away from featured, model-type roles that focus solely on my exterior without any performance aspect or substance, such as social media skits exploiting women and sexuality.
JC: What or who keeps you motivated and inspired?
JR: I lost a lot of people near and dear to me over the years; amongst them, two of the most important people in my life: my parents. I lost both of them to terminal illnesses, within a few years of each other. The pain and adversity that follow that type of loss on a personal and spiritual level are very trying, to the point that it has made me me question life itself. Feeling like a guinea pig, constantly climbing the wheel, with seemingly no way out. Somehow, I always knew I’d overcome and grow into a stronger woman, as I did, and always have. That said, I am currently in an incredible mental and spiritual space, unlike anywhere I’ve ever been prior. I attribute this newfound peace to growth, maturity, and acceptance of the things I can’t change but the courage to change the things I can.
JC: What role has your family and friends played in helping and supporting you?
JR: I have a very small support system that I turn to, but when I do, they are always there. Hollywood, is a funny place, but you learn to weed out the B.S. quickly.
JC: For us, outsiders, how competitive and cutthroat is Hollywood, or do we have it all wrong?
JR: Entertainment is exceptionally saturated, cutthroat, and competitive with a plethora of talent from all around the world ages, sizes, and ethnicities. I try to focus on myself and being the best at what I aspire most, which is to be a full-time actor, utilizing my success as a platform, to help and heal others with motivational speaking. Ideally, I’d love to open on the road one day with Tony Robbins.
1. You are a foodie!? What are some of your favorites?
JC: Huge foodie! I love seafood! I could live on crab legs and veggies. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but if I were to eat something sweet, it would be coffee flavored gelato or chocolate molten cake with that moist fudge center.
JC: When not working, what does Jessica do to unwind and relax?
JR: Anytime I get the chance, you can find me at the beach or hiking. Travel is always a must. Being Mexican, of course I love Mexico. It’s just such a beautiful country and beautiful culture in general. Up next is Sicily and Italy to explore my mother’s roots.
JC: With the #MeToo movement and truths coming out, how important is it to you to be a strong female role model and bring awareness to people?
JR: The #MeToo movement is crucial. It was a matter of time. I believe strongly in the talent and the work, so let me be talented and earn my spot. I would never allow some demoralizing experience with a false sense of career enhancement ruin my life or career. I believe in being yourself but being mindful of your audience and have a long-term goal in mind. Personally I believe in using your platform to not only solicit yourself in positive productive ways, but also to encourage and promote positivity and change.
JC: Without giving it all away, what’s on deck for you the rest if 2018?
JR: I have a lot on deck for 2018. The year is young, yet in my eyes and I have great momentum. I am working on closing a deal with my documentary project “A New Day,” to see it to the big screen by the top of 2019. I am also co-producing a docuseries surrounding bitcoin. As far as acting in front of the camera goes, I just shot an amazing period piece “Sworn” playing a Queen, which will be hitting the indie short film circuit by the end of the year, with updates on social media. I will also be shooting a film that I wrote and will also star in late spring titled, “Invisible Walls.” My goal by the end of 2018 is to land a series regular on a network television show.
Professional: I was the personal body and hand double for Sofia Vergara for three years, partaking in all of her major commercial brand deals, such as Diet Coke, Covergirl, Rooms to Go, Coffee Ninja, Comcast, Suave, and others. That platform led to beauty and body doubling over the years for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, Eva Mendez, Estee Lauder, for L’Oreal, Kohls, and Braun. It was the ultimate flattery and a dream.
Personal: I was a homeowner by the age of 21.I was a vegan for three years, but now I have an “everything in moderation” approach to diet for the most part.
With her making the best of every situation approach and drive, it’s only a matter of time before we all see Jessica on the big screen or TV screens worldwide. The humble work ethic and approach towards life that she has is due to pay off. In today’s world where things can be so ugly, it’s refreshing to meet a good spirit. I cannot thank Jessica enough for taking the time to talk with me and share her journey and what a ride it’s been so far. I wonder if I can get a nosebleed ticket to the Golden Globes or Oscars?! Keep up with all her projects and adventures through social media.