Close-up: An Interview with Jessie Pinnick

Q: Princess Cyd has received terrific reviews. Do you remember your reaction when you first heard about the project?

A: IT was the summer after graduation (from college) when I was sent the script. It was my first ‘real’ audition ever, so I remember feeling the excitement of being invited to audition for something. Then I read the script that night and completely fell in love with the story and saw myself in the role – Cyd felt like someone I understood which was thrilling.

The writing was wonderful, the story was beautiful. I was new to the acting scene and this story is about discovery and change so it felt perfectly timed.

Q: Indiewire said the film is: ‘anchored by complicated, smart, funny women.’ Given the current gender issues in American cinema, how important are films that showcase strong and diverse women?

A: INCREDIBLY important. The women in my life make up my most treasured relationships, and to not tell their stories is corrupt and a dishonest representation of the world. Complicated, smart, funny women anchored the entire set of ‘Princess Cyd’ and it was a joy to go to work every day because of it.

Q: What have been the greatest challenges for you so far in the entertainment industry?

A: LEARNING how to fall deeply in love with a script or a project, then letting it go. This industry is very much about rejection and it is good to understand that it is not personal. You go into auditions giving your heart, so when you do not land a project it can sting, but that is also a huge part of the work as an actor.

Comparisons can be a tricky thing to navigate as well but having a solid and rooted understanding of self is vital.

Q: Princess Cyd follows in the impressive footsteps of Call Me By Your Name, Beach Rats, God’s Own Country and others in talking about sexuality. What viewpoints and messages does Princess Cyd present?

A: PRINCESS Cyd is yes, a film about sexuality and its fluidity, but it is also about allowing people to be who they are.

While Cyd is exploring her sexuality, Miranda is instead interested in exploring her spirituality, her soul, her mind. This movie shows how both things are valid and wonderful. Princess Cyd is about finding your own unique happiness and not placing judgment on yourself or others for how that happiness is found.

Jessie Pinnick in Princess Cyd

Q: Can you tell us about Cyd and how you related to her?

A: CYD is an open, confident young person who does not allow the construct of gender to define her or her sexuality. I connected deeply to Cyd’s openness and curiosity but was excited to step into her self-assuredness, which I certainly did not have at sixteen.

In some ways, Cyd is thoughtless in her frankness and actions which is a part of growing up and I could definitely be that way as a teenager – speaking before thinking and doing things before considering how it may make others feel.

Q: What did you learn from working on the film with your co-stars and director Stephen Cone?

A: I LEARNED an immeasurable amount from working on this film and from the people I worked alongside.

Rebecca Spence is a staple in the Chicago acting scene and it was a lesson in subtlety and grace every single day working with her. She is generous and humble with her incredible talent and I learned so much from simply watching her work.

Zoe White, our Director of Photography, is extraordinary. Working with her taught me how to be comfortable in front of the camera and I felt I could be my most vulnerable and intimate self while filming. She is a confident, capable, creative woman and I definitely looked up to her on set.


Stephen is like an expert horticulturist. He plants the seeds, makes sure the set is filled with sunlight and water and just lets the thing grow in whichever way it naturally wants to. He is of course guiding the story, but he allows his actors and his team to do their work. He is gentle and thoughtful and it was one of the happiest months of my life working on his set.

Q: Why are you passionate about acting and performing? What motivates you?

A: I THINK I want to be an actor because I love artists and want to spend my time with them. I want to be a part of helping stories come to life.

I suppose I have the perverse desire to expose deep truths about myself through a character in order to illuminate truths about humanity. Helping to tell stories that are important and giving voice to people whose voices we would not otherwise hear is what motivates me.

Q: Do you have any passions besides acting?

A: SINGING has been part of who I am since before I could talk. It was my first outlet to that exposure of self.

Q: Where do you want to take your career in the next few years? What kind of art do you want to create?

A: I WANT to work with people who are making movies that dare to say something honest – like Princess Cyd. I want to make art that is filled with truth, whether it be ugly or uplifting, and to create characters that are filled with flaws, contradictions, and beauty like the people I know in my life.

Q: Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

A: NOTHING in the works at the moment but I have been reading more scripts than ever before and there is so much cool work happening that I am excited for whatever I am involved in next.


  1. I saw Princess Cyd last month with friends. Jessie is so sensitive and relatable in the movie! Thnx for letting me learn more about her:)

  2. Jessie Pinnick turned in an awarding winning performance in Princess Cyd. We should be seeing a lot more of this brilliant young actress.

    The Ace
    Critic at Large

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