We had the good fortune of connecting with Jaimi McPeek and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jaimi, why did you pursue a creative career?
I believe whole-heartedly that I was meant to do this! For anyone who doesn’t know, my name is Jaimi McPeek and I am an actress, dancer, singer and model. From a very young age, I have suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder along with Depression. I started dancing at the age of 5, but by the age of 7, I realized that dancing was a complete release for me. It was a way for me to showcase the often-time confusing emotions without saying a word. It was a different way of expressing myself. By the age of 10, I knew I wanted to go professional, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. At 13, I tried musical theatre and by the age of 15, I got my first role in my theatre’s broadways season of Catch Me If You Can where I played as the youngest of 8 female dancers in the show. While dancing in Catch Me If You Can, I was also singing and stage-acting. For about a month, I performed in front of sold out crowds every single night. That feeling is something truly indescribable. At this point, this was more than just a release, it was (and is) my happiness, my joy, my warmth, my light. The feeling of the hearing the audience cheering while the lights are beaming, the music is hitting its final note and the sweat is dripping down my smiling face, I can’t put into words. There is a certain power of that feeling that just leaves me speechless. It is still, to this day, otherworldly. There is something about doing what you love and bringing joy to other people that is so invigorating. At age 17, I branched into film-acting and discovered yet another form of release through there. This release was different though, it was more intimate, more personal. When there is a camera, or two or three, surrounding your face, there is no time for the extra noise in your head, the camera sees all and it sees me in my most vulnerable state. The camera has provided a way for me to bring other characters out to their most vulnerable states as well. Just like I have a story to tell, every character that I play has a story to tell and it is my job that I tell it. In that moment, nothing else matters, I go on stage or in front of the camera not only to do what I love, but to let go of everything else going on in my personal life. People go to the theatre or go to the movies to do the same, they forget about their life for a couple of hours. For those couple of hours, the audience and I are one. We are both there for a very similar reason. I am there to create something memorable and they are there to receive something memorable. That is something truly extraordinary. I believe the arts showcases us as a species. Art brings us together. Art allows us to forget. Art allows us to LIVE!

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I believe what sets me apart is my drive for this. This is not something I want to do with my life, it is something that I NEED to do with my life. I won’t settle and I won’t ever give up. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Has it gotten easier now that I am more established? Absolutely not. It is constant work, but in all honesty, it is a small price to pay for watching your dreams turn into realities. I work hard and non-stop every day. I am no where near finished with my journey, in fact, I am just starting. Let me elaborate and how I even got my feet wet in this industry. Like I elaborated on earlier, I started dancing at the age of 5 and progressed my way up to film and tv. After my first film and tv class, my coach told me that I was a natural and it wasn’t long before I started auditioning for student films at Ringling College. I got the leading part in the first film I auditioned for and after being on my first set, I knew that film acting was a career I needed to pursue. My passion and my drive just grew and grew from then on. I started auditioning like crazy. I started marketing myself and making connections left and right. My parents were amazing enough to install a dance studio in my house where I practiced (and still do practice) almost every day. I started taking singing lessons to improve my voice, I started getting into more shows and onto more sets to get a reel going and to build my résumé. I got into modeling so I could start building up a visual portfolio. Next thing I knew, I was making a name for myself; it took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but I was starting to become established. I started getting asked for interviews and advice, I even appeared on a local talk show called Sarasota Cultural Alliances for the Arts. Next, I started going to film festivals and just handing out my business cards to all the filmmakers there. One thing is for sure, I was not shy in the least bit. During film festivals, I would write down the names of films that I liked and when I got home, I would personally contact the director. Even today, during COVID, I am still able to practice my craft. I take classes whenever I can, I read about my craft, I am in my studio working on my technique, I am doing online musicals, etc.. I never let a day go by where I don’t do something that my future self will thank me for. As you can see, this journey is NOT easy! It takes work day in and day out, but for what I love, it is worth it! Some lessons that I have learned are the very cliché ones. For example, don’t give up! In this industry, there are always a thousand things working against you, you will hear ‘no’ a million times before you hear that ‘yes’. You just have to keep going. Never let the fear overrun the passion. I am true believer in the saying “when there’s a will, there’s a way.” Another lesson that I have learned is it is okay to say no! If you don’t think a project is right for you, you are not obligated to say ‘yes’ even if a part is offered to you. When I was younger, I wanted to say yes to EVERYTHING; luckily I had my mom there to remind me that I did have the option. Today, I am able to say no a lot easier as I am way more established. For example, I do not take unpaid work anymore, but in the beginning most of the work is going to be unpaid as you get footage. Know your worth, but know where you are in your journey. All in all, I think my never give up attitude and my drive definitely sets me apart. I have a determination that I have been told inspires a lot of people. It’s not something I worked towards, I have just always been a very determined person. I like the feeling of achieving things and looking back at how far I’ve come is a beautiful feeling. Always remember that only YOU can determine your future. One of my favorite quotes that reminds me of my continuous journey is by Christopher Reeve and it goes, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” I also want to mention two things that I am very proud/excited for! One is that a TV show that I had the honor of being a series regular on is now on Amazon Prime, it is called Dream Factory. The other thing is that I am pursuing my directorial debut called Flip of a Coin. I will not only be directing the movie, but also starring in it, and I co-wrote the script! The movie is all about raising awareness for mental illness. It shows how someone who is struggling with these demons can truly see the world through a broken lens. Someone who has struggled and currently struggles is myself; hence why my passion for this film breaks the charts. It is not only a movie, but a movement. I started my own support group on Facebook called Flip of a Coin Support Group (Breaking the Stigma Against Mental Illness). The more mental illness is talked about, the more that stigma is broken! I truly believe that I was put on this Earth to inspire people and make a difference through my craft.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My best friend did visit me for a week and I planned out the entire trip! I have to say that that was one of the best weeks of my entire life! We both love theme parks. At the time, I was a professional performer at Busch Gardens, so I took her there and I also took her to Universal Studios! We are both huge Harry Potter fans, so I couldn’t wait to surprise her with Harry Potter World (I even got her reaction on-camera). We both are science nerds and love space, so I took her to Kennedy Space Center where we met Anna Lee Fisher, who is a former NASA astronaut and became the first mother in space! She was (and is) an inspiration to both of us. We also took a tour and saw where Space X was being built and where all the Apollo missions launched! It was truly incredible. We both love puzzles, so I took her to an escape room where we managed to escape. I took her to Siesta Key Beach and we spent the night walking along the village there. She is from England, so this was one of her first beach experiences. She is also very into photography, so I was her beach model. We both love adventuring so I took her to an obstacle course place called Tree-umph. Unfortunately we got rained out, so we spent that day watching movies and reenacting our favorite scenes. We went to the Florida Mall, which is GIGANTIC, and spent hours walking around and just window shopping. I honestly don’t know how we fit everything into a little less than a week! As you can tell from this, I love adventuring, trying new things, being outdoors, and making memories.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost, I need to dedicate this shoutout to my mom AKA my rock! She has been there for me since day one, through thick and thin. She has been my biggest fan, biggest supporter, my escort, my MOMager (mom manager), and my best friend. This industry can be extremely exhausting and it can crush you if you let it. My mom has been there through everything and has believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Personally, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today without her. I wouldn’t be nearly as strong for she has to be the strongest woman I know. I am eternally grateful for her. My boyfriend of almost 3 years now has also been a rock to me. We push each other and I think we are both much better people because we have each other. We are both firm believers on never giving up on your dreams. I push him to pursue his dreams and he pushes me to pursue mine. Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am either. I have been very fortunate to have very supportive friends and family members throughout my whole life that I am also giving a warm mental shoutout to. Last, but certainly not least, a major shoutout to all of my teachers, coaches, and mentors over the past 15 years! All of you have helped shaped my career in different and beautiful ways. All of you have opened my eyes and helped me really my true passion and true calling. All of you have made me into who I am today and I am grateful for every lesson that I have learned. Whether is IS from my incredible acting coach who encouraged me to pursue the film-acting field, to my many dance coaches that have built my strength, endurance, and passion, to my singing coach that gave me the confidence to sing my first solo live at a restaurant, you all have molded me into the performer that I am today! I will never stop learning, but I will also never forget all of the lessons that I have learned along this long journey! Thank you to everyone who has believed in me!

Website: www.jaimimcpeek.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/jaimixoxoxo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JaimiNMcPeek
Other: For my movie that I am directing: https://www.gofundme.com/f/flip-of-a-coin-film

Image Credits
Images taken by Nate Blakely, John Stalter, Elainea Cruz, Adela Hittell, Time Western Sky, and various crew members on set. Movies include Juvie, Brief Candle, and the TV show Diary of A Lunatic The poster is a teaser poster for my movie, Flip Of A Coin

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