JESSICA Hawkins is former British Karting champion and Mini Challenge Pro Vice champion.
Close-Up Culture was thrilled to speak to Jessica as she continues to wow audiences as part of the adrenaline-fuelled Fast and Furious Live arena tour (click for more info).
Q: You are currently touring with Fast and Furious Live. What can audiences expect from the show and what is your role?
A: THE show is a real spectacle for the audience – an assault on all their senses, visual and immersive. We want to draw them into the excitement and unity of the Fast and Furious Family, and we invite them to participate in the show as it develops which is one element of the audience experience.
My role is to be one of the team of precision drivers, to ensure we perform at our best in each and every show to make it an experience that is unforgettable and real. It has to be seen to be believed.
Q: What are the biggest challenges and thrills of performing on a show like Fast and Furious Live?
A: THE biggest challenge is to adapt my racing skills and experience to those required for the Fast Live production.
My racing background was relevant and key, just used in a slightly different way, and the initial training camp was amazing. We all bonded so quickly and individually had something to contribute. The passion and commitment to do the ‘Fast and Furious‘ franchise justice and to make it a show we were all proud to be a part of was palpable.
Q: How does it compare to competitive driving?
A: EACH time we go out in the arena we have to get our sequence right. Timing is key as the driving has to sync to perfection with the special effects, the 3D mapping, the music and of course the other drivers and performers who are part of that scene.
Like racing, it is a team effort behind the scenes, but I am performing as part of this team instead of racing as an individual. We all work together to enhance each other’s performance instead of racing as an individual where the aim is to beat competitors.
Q: Are you a fan of the Fast and Furious films? If so, which character to you most relate to?
A: YES, I love the Fast and Furious films, nothing comes before the ‘family’. Letty would be my character of choice. She is who she chooses to be and gets to drive and race some pretty amazing cars.
Q: Do you share that Fast and Furious family bond with other crew members on the tour?
A: The Fast and Furious family bond is real amongst our crew. It is a tangible thing. Not just the drivers but the whole production team. We all accept that we are co-dependent on each other and the sum of the parts is much greater than any of the individual working parts. As a result, we combine to make it happen. From the mechanics, the set carpenters through to the special effects guys, we are all one big crew and above all we have fun doing a job we absolutely love.
Q: How long have you been driving for and where does your passion for the sport come from?
A: I STARTED racing competitively at 10 years old and just knew it would be a life-long passion. I guess I have that competitive streak but racing gave me the adrenaline rush that nothing else did – that is, until I joined the Fast Live team and experienced the rush that performing live gives you.
Q: There is a push for more diversity in the world of cinema. Have you had to overcome adversity as a female driver?
A: THERE are a growing number of young female racers participating now that are talented, although it is true that 10 years ago there were fewer.
I do not feel I had to fight for my place amongst my male peers. There was always a mutual respect for ability, but I do think that females should be given the same long-term development and support opportunities that are more available to male racing drivers.
That is key to providing the female role models that others can emulate and aspire to be. Select and invest in the exceptionally talented females and we can – and will – compete on a level playing field.
Q: What are your ambitions for the future? Is Formula 1 a possibility?
A: TO be honest, I was named as one of the three most likely females to make it to F1 when I was constantly winning or finishing in the top three at major National and European championships.
I mixed with the best and my results spoke for themselves – beating a world Karting champion, also beating drivers that are well on their way to F1 and other major racing series.
Sadly, the development opportunities did not materialise so my development lacked continuity and my time for F1 slipped away. But happily it did lead to the opportunity I have now grasped – and being a part of Fast Live is equally exciting and an extension of my driving skills.
Right now I am embracing it and loving life. Who knows what I do next. If in five years I am behind the wheel of anything with four wheels, the sky is the limit.