Before she became the buzzed-about star of RECOVERY ROAD, Jessica Sula was a coat check girl at the swanky Chef’s Club in New York City.
“I also worked as a hostess in an Irish Sports Bar called Manhattan Brew House,” she tells TheTVPage.com.
Little did most of her customers know that Jessica, 21, was already a huge TV star in the UK, after appearing in the controversial MTV series SKINS.
“Every once in a blue moon I’d be giving somebody drinks and they’d say, ‘Hey, weren’t you that…you were that girl in SKINS,’” she says. “I would be like, ‘Yes.’”
When the series ended in 2013, Jessica headed to America.
“I was in New York for two and half years, living in different couches,” she tells TheTVPage.com.
“I was living with different friends and working in different restaurants and auditioning at the same time. Now I actually am finally able to get an apartment.”
Jessica — whose mother is half Afro-Hispanic and half Chinese and father is half German and half Estonian — stars in Freeform’s new teen drama as Maddie, a highly functioning teenage addict, who moves into an adult recovery home to get her life in order.
She opened up about her life and the show in an exclusive interview with TheTVPage.com.
This show takes us inside a recovery center, something young people often never see. How curious were you about what went on inside that world?
I was very curious. I watched a lot of different, strange documentaries on the internet about sober living houses, AA meetings, you know, and different episodes of drugs and the way it impacts different societies.
Has this experience of doing this show made you reconsider your own approach to maybe having a drink to two or?
Oh, yeah. I mean, you certainly do think. Then, I think it’s something that you also know too. I’m not somebody, I don’t really have you know, it’s part of the brain that has an addiction problem and I don’t, there nothing … Everybody has a vice, I suppose, and it does make me think about that deeply because it can come in all shapes, of what am I really addicted to? What is it that I’m hooked on? I still haven’t found that out.
Did you ever sit in on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to learn about what goes on?
I have only gone to one with my friend. But it was actually an Alanon meeting. She had somebody in her family life who was an addict.
So you must have a certain respect for the process that you want to uphold.
Oh, absolutely! A total respect. A.A. has been going on since 1935 yet it is still on the hush hush. This is bringing it out on the complete mainstream. So I think it is a good mainstream show and a topic that surprisingly no one really talks about.
SKINS portrayed the dirty underbelly of teenage life from a completely different perspective.
Absolutely. And we had a lot more liberties on that show that ABC Family didn’t [offer]. However they are branching out and testing the waters with quite a few different things that happened in some of the plots.
Did you feel closure with SKINS? Were you happy the way it ended?
I, you know, I processed it and a year after I left. Then I felt a complete closure. Now it’s coming back full circle, working on RECOVERY ROAD.
What was it a year later that allowed you to process it?
I auditioned when I was 15 turned 16 when we started. Everything happened very, very young. I did it open audition, I didn’t expect to get anything and a month later, you’re starting filming.
Did you ever seen the American MTV version?
I did a couple of times but I didn’t have cable so I couldn’t.
Did you move to America with family? A boyfriend?
Is that scary for you?
It’s scary but it’s also kind of, it’s quite exciting. It’s quite liberating. Although, I do have my moments where I’m pack from one suitcase and I just am like, “What am I doing?” I think it’s a good thing, I think it toughens me up.
What are you most excited for people to see in Maddie?
She’s a darker character. Maddie’s definitely darker than Grace. She has a lot of demons that she needs to go though and battle and recognize and I, it was just exciting to portray that.
Are you able to put it away and go home and be happy?
Yes, very much so. I have a great class for that and you know, there are times when it’s probably overwhelming but certainly, I’m able to go home and be fine.
What should fans who are tuning in for the first time know about you?
I am a girl that is taking it seriously each day at a time when it comes to all of this. I do like to have a cup of tea and sit home. and watch telly.
What kind of tea do you like?
I like an Earl Grey. And you know what? I noticed that [Americans] drink black tea with no milk. Why don’t you put a bit of milk in it once in a while? That is what we do in the U.K. It is very nice.
RECOVERY ROAD airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on Freeform.
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