Here is the story of a girl who initially saw herself in the 9 to 5 life following a law or business degree until a Tyler, the Creator interview inspired her, catalysing her acceptance into an American acting school.
Jordan, how does life in New York compare with your life in Australia? You seem insanely busy, so how do you find ‘me’ time, keep motivated, and deal with stress?
Of course, I’m Australian, so we work and play hard. But they’re not kidding when they say it’s the city that never sleeps – New York stops for no one, and you either gotta keep up or get out. I always say you’ve got to get out of the city every two to three months to keep your sanity, even just for a couple of days.
I try to make Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays all work, no play days – I list each task, deadline and chore and bang it out in these days, then allow myself the leisure to do as I please Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
And where could I find you on those leisure days?
I love to dance. So, you’ll usually catch me out dancing in Lower Manhattan or Bushwick. It’s my fave way to let loose and get any pent-up energy out.
What about keeping motivated?
I try not to tell myself I’m practicing motivation, but instead practicing discipline. Motivation is subject to fluctuation, but discipline is a structure and a principle to live by. On days that I really don’t have the energy or want to give up, I tell myself it’s the little, daily things that’ll bring me to the big things.
If I desperately need the motivation though, I’ll indulge in my spirituality. Free-writing, tarot card readings, astrology or meditation, and so forth. Taking the time to nourish my spirit and connect with myself really keeps me balanced. I find that the most rejuvenating and relaxing. Also, a large Domino’s cheese pizza with a side of ranch, a glass of wine and Law & Order: SVU does the trick.
Tell me the gist of your new film.
That Thing I Had One Time is based on my own story of having an abortion in the US. It is a story of a young, foreign woman named Sadie, who falls unexpectedly pregnant and subsequently, is faced with a difficult decision. Ultimately, due to a multitude of reasons, Sadie decided to have an abortion. It follows her emotional, spiritual and mental journey as she navigates this tumultuous process.
You realise this film may be highly controversial in today’s political climate?
Absolutely. I welcome the controversy, and the world needs it. What is life without a challenge?
What role does this film play in your own life, other than as a tangible project?
It’s been an intensely, incredibly memorable experience creating art out of such a dark memory. There were times that it was hard to write, and even harder to act and re-live through – but ultimately, I am immensely grateful for the experience.
Also having such wonderful friends involved in the project – they were all deeply sensitive towards the subject, it really helped.
I’ve had a few women reach out to me to thank me for what I’m doing, and it fills my heart to know in some way that I am comforting them. It’s a beautiful feeling to know I’m making a difference.
So, elaborating on that, who does this film speak to, and what do you hope to achieve?
Firstly, it speaks to women. My main goal is to validate women in their experience and have them feel less alone. I know that there were plenty of times where I felt as though no other person could empathise or understand, so I’m making this for the women who feel no one gets it, to let them know that I do. Abortion is ridiculously common and normal, yet we’re so hesitant to talk about it – and for some, quick to condemn it – that it leaves women feeling isolated.
Secondly, I want to remove the stigma surrounding abortion. A woman has a right to choose the course of her life and not have her body regulated by strangers. I want more awareness, knowledge, and available resources pertaining to abortion. I want people to fully understand that although this is my choice, one that I am 100 per cent sure of, it is not an easy or simple experience to go through. This hesitancy to talk about it, the quickness to shame and vilify and the lack of available professional help, knowledge and resources leaves women emotionally and mentally beaten with scarce options to move forward healthily and deal with any lingering trauma. This needs to change.
What inspired you to move to New York, and what would you say to young women or men, to whom moving away from home is a huge and daunting decision to make?
For the longest time I believed I was going to get a law or business degree and work nine to five. There is nothing wrong with that at all, it just did not excite or inspire me – it was not my dream. I also first visited New York with family when I was fourteen. I fell in love with it, I just knew within me that one day I’d call it home.
I remember being close to graduating year 12, and watching a Tyler, The Creator video. He was talking about his career and I remember him saying ‘you can literally be whatever you want in life’. Something in those words moved me. That night I started looking up acting schools in America. I knew with the utmost conviction I had to end up in New York someday, somehow. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts was the first school I applied for, and I was determined on attending. I auditioned in Melbourne 2014, and lo and behold, a few months later I was accepted.
My advice is, just trust yourself and trust your ability to do it. It is an incredibly terrifying decision to leave everything behind and enter a foreign world that is so drastically different from your own. New York is in every way, shape and form the completely opposite of Tasmania. Trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be right now and that your inner strength, courage and wisdom will guide you in any endeavour. Taking a risk and putting yourself out there is daunting, but it can reap benefits beyond your wildest dreams. So, risk it all for what your heart desires most.
Being in the US, you obviously have to adapt to the US film scene. What’s it like having to take on an American accent? How did you come to master it?
I actually used to be painfully terrible at it. My voice and speech teacher used to get so frustrated with me. Until we started focussing specifically on worldwide dialects in my second year of school. It was learning that stereotypical, posh English accent – known as an RP dialect – that helped me to get a grasp on the American. That, and imitating Kylie Jenner or the Kardashians helped me nail the accent. When I do it for a role, people can’t tell I’m Australian and I’m always absolutely stoked because, if only they knew how bloody shocking it once was.
Has your Australian background placed any other obstacles within your New York life?
Not really, my mum ships me Tim Tams and Vegemite in bulk, so I guess, if I’m being picky, I’d say I miss being able to buy those on a whim. The coffee here is pretty atrocious, but other than that, I’ve fit in pretty easily! Oh, and Americans definitely do not party like Australians do. I think some of my American friends think I’m crazy [laughs].
Any other general challenges?
Not being able to see my mum. My mum and I have an incredible bond. She is my best friend and I often joke with people that she is my soulmate. Throughout everything I’ve gone through she has always been my rock, and I am endlessly blessed and grateful to have a woman like her as my mother. Not being with her when I’m at my most down or when she is going through something, has undoubtedly been one of the hardest aspects of being so far from home.
What would the present-day Jordan say to the young Jordan?
I actually think about this a lot. I wish I could tell her many things. But most importantly, and perhaps the most cliché, is just be your damn self. I wasted a lot of time trying to be like other people or trying to water myself down out of fear of being rejected or seen. But just. be. yourself. Every person on this earth was put here with a journey and a vibrantly, wonderfully unique disposition that is entirely their own.
You owe it to yourself and the universe to shine as brightly as you can and as your best self. Always listen to yourself and what you want to do. If people don’t like it, that’s their problem. The second I started truly making strides in honouring, loving and celebrating me – and this is still something I’m learning – is the second my life got exponentially richer.
Ah! I have a lot of things I want to do. I’m very drawn to creating art that centres around pertinent social issues in a controversial and confronting way. I have a film idea that’s itching to be told, so I’m hoping to really sink my teeth into that in 2019. I’m wanting to dabble in many things – I’m interested in modelling, learning to dance, honing my writing and directing skills, even producing music. I want to expand my skills and soak myself in as much creativity as possible. I don’t want a second to rest in 2019.
Jordan Fassina lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her film, That Thing I Had One Time, will be released in early 2019.