Jessica Lea Fleming

Board Series: Jessica Lea Fleming

I moved to Toronto 4 years ago to work as an actor and writer, so naturally I became an unpaid, couch-surfing intern. My first year in the city I worked retail, waited tables and “worked” for a few film and theatre related organizations. One of my fondest memories as an intern involves walking an armload of long metal pipes and 16 lunch orders a whopping 7 blocks to the offices of a small production team only to be referred to as “Jennifer”. You might say it was the best day of my life, but you would be wrong.

In my first year as a Torontonian, I got to experience molecular gastronomy, a fistfight between 2 drag queens, an almost-mugging and bed bugs first hand. Oh, and the best bloody theatre I have seen to date, “Lypsynch” by Robert Lepage at the 2009 Luminato Festival. It was so good my heart simultaneously glows and breaks all over again when I think of that show.

Eventually, after getting my city stripes, I landed a paid, junior position at a small public relations firm. Publicity is a great gig if you have a penchant for suicidal thoughts and waking up with sparkles in your hair. That job was an education and a blessing to say the least, as it taught me to keep my head above water no matter what you’re dealing with. In time it led me to a community outreach position with the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, where I was offered the Development Manager position just over a year ago. Taking the DM position at imagineNATIVE was an excellent choice for a number of reasons, one of them being a small boost in vacation time, which enabled me a last minute adventure in February of 2012 to Jamaica. Jamaica attracts all kinds of interesting birds, among them that year, Scott Friedmann: Head of Innovation at Idea Couture and The Theatre Centre Board member. Scott and his family were vacationing and by chance I approached him one evening to take a photo of my friends and I on the beach at sunset. We began chatting and lo-and-behold, the world is a small and wonderful place y’all! Scott, being the connector and cool guy that he is, invited me to sit in on meetings for The Theatre Centre’s marketing committee as they developed branding and strategies for the “Moves” campaign. One thing led to another and a year later, with open arms and delicious crackers, the Board of Directors welcomed me as their newest member.

Being part of one of the city’s trail-blazing theatre organizations has been a great reminder of how important theatre is not only to a community but also to me personally. Now, 4 years after my big move, I have started reconnecting to the writer and performer in me. I have graduated the Second City Conservatory program, have landed the odd acting or writing gig here and there, and most importantly, I finally dusted off my “Fruitful Productions” business cards, and am rehearsing my first full-length play in 7 years Blue Moon Girls (about a love triangle set in a small French-Métis town, loosely based on my experiences growing up in Penetanguishene, Ontario). I am happy to say that Blue Moon Girls is being featured in this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival!

To help grow, revitalize and cement Toronto as a leader in theatre and performing arts via an organization such as The Theatre Centre is a dream come true. I know this next step will be both an education and a blessing to say the least, and hopefully I’ll wake up once or twice with some sparkles in my hair!

Jessica Lea Fleming
For information on Blue Moon Girls written by Jessica Lea Fleming and directed by Julia Pileggi, follow Fruitful Productions on Twitter @Fruitful_Arts or check out our Facebook page.