Rising Star Jessica St. Clair: “Why it’s so important to find your tribe — the like-minded people who are doing what you love to do”

Yitzi Weiner
Jul 17 · 6 min read
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Jessica St. Clair co-created USA’s critically-acclaimed comedy “Playing House” and co-starred as Emma Crawford, a strong-willed, passionate and career driven woman who moves back to her small hometown to help her best friend, Maggie (Lennon Parham) raise her first baby. A multi-talented actress and writer, St. Clair initially gained notoriety performing at the legendary Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York and Los Angeles. St. Clair has appeared in numerous features including the critically praised independent films “Afternoon Delight” and “Enough Said.” One of her most memorable roles was in the blockbuster hit “Bridesmaids” in the unforgettable bridal salon food poisoning scene. Other credits include Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator,” “Wanderlust,” “She’s Out of My League,” “Life as We Know It” and Christopher Guest’s “For Your Consideration.” In addition, St. Clair and Parham starred in and created “Best Friends Forever” for NBC in 2012. St. Clair also guest starred on “Veep,” “Marry Me,” “The McCarthys,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Weeds,” “United States of Tara,” as well as “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” and can currently be seen as legendary bitch Chloe Brown Muehler in ABC’s American Housewife.


Thank you so much for joining us Jessica! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

Icame up as a comedian at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. I moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago and have co-created and starred in two comedy series with my real life best friend and fellow UCB alum, Lennon Parham — “Best Friends Forever” on NBC and the critically acclaimed “Playing House” on USA. I have also had the absolute pleasure of working on Veep, The Office, Parks and Rec, Review, and most recently, American Housewife. I am most recognized at Whole Foods for being a part of the infamous bridal salon scene in “Bridesmaids.”

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

When I was 39, right after we wrapped Season 2 of my television show, “Playing House,” I got diagnosed with breast cancer. It was hands down the worst day of my life. But then, all of my best friends and loved ones, including Lennon Parham (who plays my best friend on TV), surrounded me and together we roundly kicked cancer’s ass. Lennon and I decided to write about our real journey in Season 3 of our show. It was the scariest thing either of us have ever done but it ended up being the best and most meaningful experience I have ever had in my career. The best part is that it connected me to so many wonderful fans and survivors who inspire me every day!

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

Find your tribe — the like-minded people who are doing what you love to do. For me, it was the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. The people I met there became some of my best friends and we all choose to work with each other as much as we can now that we actually get paid for what we do!

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

My breast cancer doctors — Dr. Philomena McAndrew (oncologist), Dr. Leslie Memsic (surgical oncologist) and Dr. Lisa Cassileth (plastic surgeon) are revolutionizing the way women are being treated for breast cancer. They not only save your life, they make sure that you feel and look as good as you can while you’re going through it. They treat breast cancer like an inconvenience that needs to be dealt with so you can get on with living your best life. I will forever be grateful to them for both saving my life and giving me the boobs of my 16 year old dreams!

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now? Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

My real life best friend and I wrote my journey with breast cancer into the last season of our television show, Playing House. In sharing our story, we were hoping to make people going through something similar feel less alone and give them hope that at the end of all this, their lives would actually be better and more full of joy!

I am working with an amazing group called The AiRS Foundation, which provides breast reconstructions for women who can’t afford them. It was shocking for me to hear that 70 percent of women either do not have their options for reconstruction discussed with them or they are unable to pay for surgery. AiRS connects angel doctors who are willing to assist them and assist with the costs to cover the surgery. Reconstruction is so integral to the physical and emotional healing of a woman and I am just so happy that the AiRS foundation exists.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

There was a mother who had gone through treatment for breast cancer while her youngest child battled leukemia. She had had a double mastectomy but was unable to afford a reconstruction because she was putting all of her money towards saving her son’s life. The AiRS foundation paid for her reconstruction. That is the kind of story that restores my faith in humanity.

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What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Your health is the most important thing in life. Never push your body past it’s physical limits.
  2. Don’t let other people tell you whether you can do this for your career. I was fired from my first two pilots and was convinced Hollywood was sending me a message that they were not interested in what I had to offer! I refused to give up though and instead pledged to myself that I would create my own work so that I would be in control. Two series later, I thank my lucky stars I did not listen to that fear all those years ago!
  3. Work with the people you love and trust as much as humanly possible. They are the ones who will make you look good.
  4. Money is not as important as creating something that gives both yourself and other people joy.
  5. Enjoying the process is more important than the outcome.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

The motto I live my life by, post surviving the big C, is “F*ck Yes Life!” That means that I say yes to every opportunity that comes my way that has the potential to bring joy, either to me or anybody else in my life. Go to Disneyland on a random Tuesday, have that picnic in the park, hug your toddler! Say “F*ck Yes” to joy and love! You won’t regret it!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)

This one is easy — Oprah. Oprah. Oprah.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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