BELLO YOUNG HOLLYWOOD to be featured in March 2020 issue.
Jade Pettyjohn: A Voice to Fill the Void
By Rachel Hallett
As long as Jade Pettyjohn is among the next generation of Hollywood, we’ll be in good hands. Her unwavering charisma is palpable on screen, but entirely contagious in person. She roots herself in an unabashed introspection that is beyond her years. She speaks with engaging yet approachable conviction; delicately hedging the divide between young starlet and role model. Her craft is more than a passion. It is an art and Pettyjohn is the conduit. Her notable credits include Deadwood: The Movie and Hulu show Little Fires Everywhere. While Pettyjohn is no stranger to the spotlight, her story is just getting started.
When did you fall in love with acting? Can you describe what that moment looked like?
I fell in love with acting before I knew what it was. When I was young, my imagination was bursting at the seams and my outlet was always make believe. I loved putting on plays for my parents; creating characters and shows. Once I realized this was a career, I felt this magnetic pull towards it. I had to do it. I am enthralled with each project I fall in love with the people I play, people unlike me and learn something new about myself and about others.
How do you normally prepare for a role?
I want to know and feel everything that my character has ever gone through in her life. Things like childhood birthdays, relationships, education, favorite foods, dislikes. I want to get to the point that when I’m working, I lose sight of the fact that we are on a sound stage with cameras in our faces. The way I do that is research, and creating the life my character has lived all the way up to the scene we’re currently shooting.
What excites you most about your upcoming role in Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?
I feel very passionate about this story. Little Fires Everywhere tackles so many important issues and I believe that spotlighting these issues can create an immense amount of change in our culture. My character on the surface, is someone you think you know. The popular girl, the perfect daughter.. that girl. As the series progresses, you see my character Lexi unravel. The truth is, no one is perfect. So who is the girl behind the false idea of perfection? I’m excited for people to see Lexie’s arc.
Have any of your past characters left a lasting impression on you as a person? What’s one thing that you’ve learned from them?
Every character I’ve played left a definite lasting impression on me as a human being.
What I took from my character Lexi in Little Fires, is how toxic chasing perfection can be. To live a life solely based off of what perfection is perceived to be, creates so much more damage to an individual. It takes a considerable amount of courage to look at the parts of ourselves we aren’t proud of. To recognize the effects we’ve created on others. But it’s those things that cultivate growth and change. Though my character didn’t go through this process gracefully, I learned from Lexi the power of self awareness.
How do you feel that social media has changed the entertainment industry? How do you utilize it in your career?
For artists in this industry, social media is a great platform to make your work known, to shine light on issues close to your heart. It’s a great way to connect with those that follow your work. I love that. Of course, social media has its setbacks. Like anything, too much can be toxic. However, I realized the other day how much power we have in controlling what we see and what we feel. I follow people and artists and accounts that make me feel good, or are doing something good. I use my social media to hopefully do the same. I refuse to follow people and accounts that cultivate negativity. I will not grant it the power to affect me.
What is one thing that you feel people get wrong about you?
Who knows! Who cares? I know who I am. What’s important to me is treating others and myself with kindness and respect, working hard and creating things I’m proud of, and using my voice to create positive change in the world.
Who’s career would you most like to emulate?
I have so much respect for artists and there are so many that carry beautiful careers that I adore and look up to. However, what excites me most, is that my career, my future, is mine. We are all on different paths. Different trajectories. I respect all artists pursuing their own artistic endeavors.
The entertainment industry is vast and there’s a lot of noise out there. How do you, especially as a young woman, ignore that and maintain your own, individual voice?
I owe all of that to the people around me. I am so incredibly lucky to have a wonderful family, a beautiful group of friends and I surround myself with people in my industry who understand that the most beautiful thing about telling stories is telling them together. I feel unified and empowered because of the people around me. If I didn’t have a group like this, all of that noise would drown me at a certain point. Surround yourself with people that love and respect you and raise them up with you.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In five years I’ll be turning 25 which is bonkers. I see great adventures to be had. The truth is, I just want to tell stories. I would like these stories to move people to change people, to change myself. My future is like jumping into a great abyss and I all know is it will be one extraordinary ride.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
As I write this advice, I realize my younger self probably wouldn’t listen as this is something that can only be learned through action. Trust yourself. Be kind to yourself. Don’t be afraid of a great adventure. Don’t be afraid of your dreams, your goals, your life. Don’t let yourself be haunted by the great ‘What If’. Love. Jump. Create. Live and live by your own design. There is no time to be afraid of the wonderful adventure ahead.
Photographer TOMMY FLANAGAN @tommy_flanagan
Creative Direction ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC @alekandsteph
Stylist VENETIA KIDD & JULIANA VARGAS @venetiakiddstyle @julivargassr
Hair MATT FUGATE @mattshair
Makeup MERAV ADLER @makeupbymerav
Production @BELLOMediaGroup x @Maisonpriveepr_la x @bonnetalex18