Up and coming actress Stevie Lynn Jones landed her biggest role to date on the NBC series Crisis. As Beth Ann Gibson, Jones is the daughter of a highly complex (and cerebral) guy (Dermot Mulroney) who is bent on bringing down various power players in the Washington D.C. area.
Beth Ann Gibson is one of the teenagers kidnapped by the organization headed by Thomas Gibson, and as of the first two episodes she has no idea that dear old dad is a criminal mastermind.
For Jones, growing up in Southern California enabled her to see the entertainment industry sans all the starry-eyed wonder. Having a family who’s worked in the business and spending a bit of time behind the camera herself, the actress has a practical and passionate view of her job. During our conversation, the actress talked about what makes Dermot Mulroney a wonderful co-star and why, even with her success on Crisis, she won’t rest on her laurels. If you’re a Twitter enthusiast (I’m still stuck on the MySpace era), Jones’ handle is @stevielynnjones.
Chicago has great architecture, wonderful people, amazing food, and harsh winters. Since it was your home base during the Crisis shoot, what is your overall impression of the city?
Amazing. That sums up everything. It’s a fantastic city. Like you said it’s beautiful. And the food is glorious! The people are amazing. I lived through the polar vortex. I’m a SoCal native – 65 degrees was winter to me. And I experienced negative 40 with wind chill so that was interesting. I also refused to wear pants the entire time, so that was a whole other crisis in itself. But it was totally great and I did get to experience the summer and the fall. The changing of the colors is really beautiful.
Speaking of change, can you talk about your character and the challenge of playing someone who has so many complex issues to deal with?
I honestly think the hostage situation was eye-opening for her. She opened up to the other students in her class and realized that she had more in common with them. So she comes out having a stronger support network than when she went into it. Yes, they’ve been traumatized by this kidnapping but it’s brought a lot of them closer. She’s also opened up her heart up to her dad a little bit more and tried to forgive him. She’s definitely growing and trying to open her eyes.
Growing up in California, and also working behind the camera, did that help you ease into the business as an actress. Not just seeing acting as a dream but as a day to day job and craft that one has to hone?
Yeah, I certainly think it does. My mom is an executive producer. She doesn’t do anything scripted or anything like that – she does clips and live shows. But I was always aware of it. I think growing up here you look at it so much differently than a girl growing up somewhere else.
To me, it’s all very real and natural, which has made it easier to transition into it for sure. It is also readily available. I can go to acting classes and find the best people to work with, wherein if I was living somewhere else it would be so much harder. I would have to move across the country and adjust. But it’s all here.
Does working with Dermot Mulroney enhance your own acting skill sets?
Dermot is really the only adult actor I interact with. Working with him has been absolutely phenomenal. He gives so much to another actor in a scene. It’s an absolute dream. Because you can get scenes where you’re stuck and you’re trying to interact with someone and they’re not giving you anything. They’re kind of in their own world. But Dermot immediately connects and engages with you. There’s so much chemistry that he creates himself and It’s really been such a learning process and so amazing.
I don’t interact with the other adults, but I can sit and watch them on set and learn so much. They integrate so much into the lines that they have and they bring so much life to it. It’s inspiring and really fantastic.
Even after landing Crisis, what are your goals as an actress?
I definitely want to work in movies, so I’m auditioning for that now. Fingers crossed. And I do think it’s important to stay in classes. I do scene study and I don’t think you can ever stop working on your craft. There are always different things you can hone in and sharpen. There’s certain things that come natural to you, because that’s (part of) your personality. There are other things that don’t come as naturally and you need to work equally on both. So I am constantly working on trying to grow and strengthen my craft. Definitely.
What are your strengths as an actress?
Well, I keep being cast as the mean girl, apparently I can do that, and I don’t think I’m very mean (laughs)! I’m really a nice person, I promise! So I guess I can do that. But I really do try to listen and engage. I try to make it as natural and conversational as possible with the other person.
There’s nothing more awkward than watching a scene with two actors that are in two completely different places. So I try to be in the same place as the other person and connect with them. If you can believe that we are having a real conversation and we’re engaged with each other. The writing and everything else will fade away, because you’re engage in our relationship. That’s what I try and focus on.
To make it as an actor, does it take a level of perseverance to survive?
You definitely do. Completely. You cannot stop moving. You cannot stop working. You have to push yourself to get into the rooms. To meet people. To work harder. It’s one of the hardest businesses to work in because there is so much competition and you can never ever really stop working. Every single day you have to do something for your craft and for the business side of things, because that is such a big part of it.
I started auditioning when I was 12 and I got into commercials. It was just something fun for me to do. It was only a year or two after that when I realized that this was a career and something I wanted to do. And then I started taking it seriously and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. It never really was a childhood dream or anything. I was lucky enough to discover something that I love to do.