Photo Courtesy of Jes Macallan - 'DC Legends of Tomorrow'

Actress Jes Macallan has been in show business for more than a decade and boy does she have some wisdom to share with us!

Macallan talks about her audition and promotion for the CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which is her current LGBTQIA+ role. Jes plays Ava Sharpe, a clone who falls in love with Captain Sara Lance (played by Caity Lotz).

Let’s get one thing straightAva Sharpe does not like being reminded that she’s a clone. 

 

You play the clone (ducking so Jes doesn’t hit Ilana!) Ava Sharpe in The CW’s DCs Legends of Tomorrow, a superhero comedy-drama. In 2017, you started out as a recurring role as a Time Bureau agent. Then in 2018, you were promoted to series regular. Who made the ultimate decision for your promotion? Did they ask you if you wanted the promotion or was it built into your original contract?

 

Are you really going to start an interview with the “c” word? (Jes laughs as she closes her computer)!  Kidding! When I auditioned I knew there was a guarantee for a few episodes with a possible season recurring. Since there was a chemistry read with a key player to be a romantic interest, I figured it would be more than a few episodes. The episodes of  Legends of Tomorrow where Ava was introduced aired before the filming of the season was finished.  The writers also definitely did a a smart thing and considered how the fans were reacting to new characters. I intentionally wanted Ava to really frustrate Sara in the beginning and be very uptight and very rule-oriented and “stiff” so I had somewhere to go with her.  

Luckily, it paid off and the more she softened the more the viewers seemed to like her and Sara together. Thank goodness “Avalance” became a good thing and my character wasn’t horribly disliked. If that were the case, I feel that the writers would have sent Ava packing! It was an organic choice to make her a regular the following season. I was humbled and grateful to come back to the show in a full-time capacity. Traveling back and forth to LA and Vancouver was not ideal. It was so much better to be able to move my family permanently so we could be together for the entire season.


During your audition Caity Lotz said she knew you were “the one” for the part. Tell us about your audition(s), chemistry tests, and what you did to be chosen. How long did it take before you received the call with the good news?

With everything the world has been through, honestly, that audition feels like it was a lifetime ago. I remember reading with Caity in a small room full of people. I had been close to a few other Arrow-verse roles so I definitely felt comfortable in the room and I know casting and producers were really wanting me to be great! 

 That is actually something that a lot of actors starting out or coming up in their careers forget. [Casting directors and producers] WANT you to be great!!! [Despite popular belief] they don’t hope you totally suck and freeze up – they have the same goals as you do! So kick those nerves in the ass and go in there and do what you wanted to do. Drop the mic and leave! Have confidence in your choices and what you prepared and show them THAT because you are the only you. A million people can try to be what they think casting/producers/ writers, etc want the role to be. But the most interesting choice is going to be what YOU want the role to be. Confidence does NOT equal COCKY!

I also always wear the same clothes for callbacks/chem reads/multiple sessions, I am always off-book, and yes… you are usually given additional or new scene work for each audition.

 


You’ve played LGBTQIA+ characters before, in ABC’s Mistresses and in a play before that. When you auditioned for Legends of Tomorrow, were you told up-front that your character is a clone and would have a romance with the female lead?

Again with the “c” word (HA!) I was not told ANYTHING about the clone situation until a few days before the script for that particular episode. It was shocking, to say the least, but a fun and exciting turn for Ava’s storyline so I was eagerly onboard. I did know that Ava was introduced to the show to ruffle Sara’s feathers which would create tension and possibly blossom the idea of some feelings for one another. Also I knew that the show was wanting Sara to find a longer-lasting relationship and of course deep down I hoped Ava was that character for her!

 

What do you do to prep your kissing scenes with Caity?

A million actors have said this before (including myself)… romantic scenes are the most unromantic thing to film! You usually have a camera a few feet away from your face and are positioned in some awkward way so that the kiss is a good angle for lighting etc. Caity and I laugh, a lot. And yes, I have always been respectful of my scene partner (for any romantic scene) and I make sure I have fresh breath! I think that is common professional courtesy.

 

You identify as straight. There’s been talk that gay actors should play gay characters. What are your thoughts on this?

I do think that the industry is changing in a very important way. So many groundbreaking roles are being written and series are being produced and more diverse artists are being inspired to tell stories and inclusiveness is a real topic being celebrated and supported. However, it’s a small shift in the grand scheme of things, but I am happy the shift has begun. I think we are just chipping away at the tip of the iceberg of inclusiveness. I feel as though LGBTQIA+ artists are feeling more empowered to tell their stories and the world is yearning to experience their stories. It makes my heart so full that the world is more open to these stories/characters/narratives. It’s where the world should be heading… forward… not backward. Inclusion… not exclusion. 

When I got this role years ago I simply felt so blessed and grateful that the lead of a superhero show was female AND bisexual and I was playing her love interest! Additionally, I was so excited that their romantic involvement didn’t consume the entirety of their storyline on the show and they were still powerful individuals with compelling storylines of their own. I am so grateful for Ava and Sara. In fact, I have heard firsthand so many stories of people young and old at the comicons I attend who identify with so many aspects of Ava and Sara’s relationship and their journey and are happy that they are on their screens. I am moved and humbled listening to their stories and I am also a big fan of Ava/Sara’s journey myself!

 

How important is it in today’s world to represent the LGBTQIA+ community? Have you received messages from LGBTQIA+ fans?

SO IMPORTANT! I have received SO many messages, SO many stories, had SO many deep connections with the LGBTQIA+ community. I have heard tons of detailed stories from so many beautiful humans. From a 16-year-old who used Ava/Sara’s storyline on Legends to come out to their conservative father and help him understand better… to lesbians in their 60’s who tell me how overjoyed they are that Ava/Sara are on their screens because they had no characters/storylines/superheroes like them on their TVs when they were figuring out their own identities! I am usually standing there in tears listening to their open hearts and I hold each and every one of those encounters near and dear to my heart.

With the production of Season 6 happening during Covid-19, what precautions have been set regarding filming? Have you had any close contact/kissing scenes in S6 yet?

All the productions have what is called a COVID compliance officer on set. They are amazing humans with very demanding jobs. The crew are the hardest working people in our industry and at the easiest of times (pre-pandemic) it is a tiring job with very long hours. The mask fatigue and social distancing and all of the protocols make it even harder for everyone to do their jobs but we are simply so grateful to be working! We have our “zones” and there is a testing schedule. Obviously, the actors, director, close camera crew, sound department, PAs, etc are in the zone that tests the most as they are in close proximity to one another. The time that actors have their masks off is regulated and it is all a bit of a science.

You’ve been asked to be a guest at many fan conventions. Prior to Legends of Tomorrow, did you ever attend conventions?

I never attended a convention before LOT and boy am I grateful to be attending them now! (Well not now now… pre-Covid now) I love love love people and I love listening to human stories. That is what I look for in a film, show, documentary, book, podcast, etc… HUMAN stories. I mean… the superhero world and all the action is exciting but it’s the characters I love. So being a part of these comicons and simply connecting with fans and hearing about their personal journeys and dreams and desires and conquests makes it all worth it. Like I said fills my heart with joy!


Break down your typical convention day for us.

Every experience is a completely different one but they are all very organized and professionally orchestrated! I cannot believe what they are able to pull off! The convention day is a whirlwind and the schedule is a minute-to-minute situation and I need so many naps when I finish! Totally worth it in the end! Also, I am usually excited to meet a few attending guests myself. I was sitting next to Cary Elwes (we share the same agent) at a previous con and I just adore him. We were able to have the loveliest chat and I was so smitten by his kindness and humility.


One of your fans, Emma, passed away from cancer at the age of 15. Her funeral was the same day as a convention you were scheduled to attend. In your heart, you knew Emma would want you to be at the convention, so that’s what you did. Share your actress/fan/friend relationship with Emma.

Emma was the most lovely, amazing, inspiring, talented, kind, person you could ever meet. I became close with her and her family (mom, dad, and younger sister Lizi) at a charity event that I regularly attend in Canada to benefit Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. She was the key speaker and ambassador that year and her story and resilience moved me in ways I cannot even describe. 

We became close friends and would text and call frequently and saw each other whenever we could after that convention. Her story and fight with cancer are detailed more in the GoFundMe link. 

I am still close with her mom and I know she is writing a book in Emma’s memory. We still have a very deep connection and those who knew her still feel her around us always. In fact, we all believe Emma still finds little ways to let us know she is here and view her as a guardian angel watching over us.

[Readers, if you wish to donate to Emma’s GoFundMe, click HERE.]

 

You graduated from the University of Florida with a business degree in International Marketing because your dad suggested you have a backup plan if modeling and acting fell through. Has your business degree helped you navigate the “business” part of show business? 

I never planned/wanted to be a model for very long or as a full-time career. However, I took the opportunity as an exciting experience to travel and immerse myself in another culture. Additionally, I am very grateful that I did pursue a business degree and I do feel that having that education has helped me navigate the business of the business. Certainly, I have just been smarter financially. I am very good with my accounting etc. I think it is very important for artists pursuing fine arts to take some small supplemental business courses.  Especially in this day and age where some young artists are curating their own opportunities and finding their own voice and recognition through social outlets.


What are your thoughts on actors having a career backup plan and what is your advice to them?

I think backup plans are a hard thing to NOT have although I am certainly one that was convinced I was going to be an actress… or maybe desperate to be an actress is a better way to put it! I had good grades and was blessed/privileged enough to have the opportunity of a college education with a financial scholarship because of my high school GPA. My father is a dentist who would have happily passed the business on to me but it wasn’t my passion. 

I think more than anything: follow your “grand passions.” In work, in love, in charities, in activism, in food, in culture, in education. Whatever it is you want to do…. maybe sell snow cones on the boardwalk… make them the BEST DAMN SNOW CONES anyone has ever had! Take pride and have passion for yourself and your endeavors, your friendships, relationships, and your family and you will never be unfulfilled.


You are an animal lover. What animals do you care for at home? How can people help stop animal abuse?

I have three beautiful doggos. I lost my OG doggo and best friend, Baci, last year and it broke my heart. When I was 18 I adopted her in Italy and she lived a glorious 18 years. We don’t deserve dogs but I am so grateful they exist.

Please do anything you can against the Dog Meat Festivals in Yulin. They are horrific and torturous and so inhumane I cannot bear it. There are so many charities helping the inhumane treatment of all animals. Our farming/livestock treatment/slaughter rate situation in America is absolutely shocking as well. 

There are SO many ways to help animals and honestly the charities can get so overwhelming. It is easy to just do nothing because it all feels like small acts are not enough. I promise they are. I follow a few smaller, boutique charities and I donate to specific cases when they need help. Animal Hope and Wellness is one specifically that we rescued our recent pup from and they are wonderful humans fighting the hard fight. The organization deals with tremendous animal abuse cases so their posts are very hard to see sometimes but they will definitely make you aware. Any donation helps any charity! Or foster, or volunteer, any act helps!

 

Anything else you want to say? 

Please visit and share these animal rescue links:

Animal Help and Wellness

Bella Vita Rescue


Written by

Ilana Rapp is a media-savvy Generation Xer with instinctive wit, quick humor and a taste for deep human emotions. As a former (child) actress with Broadway, film and television credits, she is adept at, well, lots of things. She blogged on The Huffington Post and writes entertainment pieces for Casting Networks, Casting Frontier, NYCastings, Mupo Entertainment and New Jersey Stage. She is a huge fan of the television show V. Ask her why her favorite number is 22. Follow Ilana on Twitter @IlanaSpeaks22