Jessica Frances Dukes began her exciting career captivating audiences in theatrical performances in several cities. She eventually moved to New York City and landed coveted roles in Off Broadway productions including By the Way Meet Vera Stark and Bootycandy. She soon made her way to Broadway appearing in Trouble in Mind. Her exceptional efforts earned her several commendations including an Obie Award and Audelco Award.
“Theatre is so many things to me. It’s such a magical place. You are in this massive room with hundreds of people and all the sudden the lights go down, and the music starts, and we are all transported through time to some world that is crafted and created to inspire, teach, change, influence, and entertain,” says Jessica. “For 90 minutes or more, we forget about our days, and everything else that exists outside of those doors, and we are only focused on the story on stage. Every single night is different, and it is such a rush! There is nothing like it!”
The versatile actress seamlessly transitioned to television in superb performances in NBC’s New Amsterdam, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and as FBI Special Agent Maya Miller in Netflix’s Ozark. “Special Agent Maya Miller is a joy to play. She’s so smart and I love to play black women that are powerful and smart. She’s not perfect of course. But no one on Ozark is perfect,” exclaims Jessica.
Not many actresses get an opportunity to perform on Broadway and appear in a hit series. But Jessica does so with ease. With theatre, they get four weeks for rehearsal, the curtain drops, and it’s show time. No cuts or numerous takes. Conversely, in television, performers rehearse as they shoot. They get many takes, the director gives tips, and the crew film from multiple angles.
“They are such different beasts. The study of the character for me is the exact same though. When I’m doing my homework and dissecting the script, I use the same methods,” she says. “There are some fun things coming that I can’t wait to share. But for now, it’s in the vault. I’ll always post on my social media as soon as they let me say. So, stay tuned!”
Follow Jessica on Instagram @JessicaFrancesDukes.
This article previously appeared in the June-July 2022 issue of Upscale magazine.