Checking In With… Jessica Frances Dukes, Star of Ozark, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, More

Special Features   Checking In With… Jessica Frances Dukes, Star of Ozark, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, More
The new feature series catches up with theatre actors during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Jessica Frances Dukes Omar Khan

As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are coping with the self-isolation on a daily basis, both physically and creatively.

The series continues with Jessica Frances Dukes, who plays Special Agent Maya Miller in the acclaimed Netflix series Ozark. Dukes, whose screen credits also include Jessica Jones, New Amsterdam, NCIS: New Orleans, and The Good Wife, has been seen Off-Broadway in Dracula, Bootycandy, and in the title role of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.

READ: Checking In With… Tony Nominee Chad Kimball, Star of Come From Away, Memphis, Into the Woods, More

Jessica Frances Dukes
Jessica Frances Dukes

What is your typical day like now?
I wake up and make my coffee. I start with social media and online networking—checking in on all my accounts. Today, for instance, I needed to update a few online sites. I'll shower. (It’s the only way I feel normal!) Then I handle emails and such, organizing what interviews and projects I have coming up both personal and professional. Then I check on the people I love and care about on the phone because that keeps me laughing, and I do the same for them. I see people all day in my job and need to continue that even if it’s on a screen. I have some lunch and then start on whatever other projects I have to complete. If there are none on the roster, I create them. Writing, painting, taking pics, etc. Then I make dinner so that it's ready after my workout at 6 PM. I work out with my trainer, then eat dinner, and maybe I’ll watch something on TV or listen to an interview, maybe, talk to a few more friends, and get right back to work until bed.

Where does your peace stem from… what brings you joy? Make a list of those things, and create a schedule for the day surrounding yourself with those.

What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
Well, Ozark is number one for me, but not just because I’m on it! I was a huge fan before I was cast, and I think those writers, directors, actors, and crew are brilliant at what they do. I’m a huge Insecure fan as well, and Issa Rae is such an example for me right now. I respect her so much as a business artist, along with many artists creating their own work. But mainly things that will make you a stronger artist and also shows, music, books that inspire and bring you joy.

What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation?
I always ask, what are you surrounding yourself with? Where does your peace stem from? Again, what brings you joy? Make a list of those things, and create a schedule for the day surrounding yourself with those things. If you have problems in these times quieting the worry enough to find your joy or peace, there are so many outlets out right now for you to connect and talk through this with professionals. There are so many wonderful talks right now on taking care of your mental health. It's key right now. I also am careful about what news I read, who I virtually surround myself with. Energy is everything right now for me. No bad energy.

How are you keeping your creative juices flowing?
I’m so inspired right now by the artists that are giving away all this knowledge for free on Zooms and lives, etc. I also have an amazing circle of people around me that inspire me hourly. One of my friends sent me a beautiful video on Instagram tonight, and it caused me to write for two hours. It inspired me so much.

Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I am workshopping a play with an amazing playwright and group of people, and it's so good. I am also writing a few things myself.

READ: Checking in With… Tony Nominee Jennifer Simard, Star of Company, Disaster!, Hello, Dolly!

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