Award-winning Actress & Writer, Jennifer Preston, tells us what inspired her to start her successful screen journey

Photo credit: Ruth Crafer

Jennifer Preston has appeared in Amazon’s ‘Wheel of Time’, ITVs ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Emmerdale’, as well as several award-winning features and short films. She also wrote, co-produced and starred in the award winning short film ‘Milo’.

Jennifer, please tell us about your acting beginnings?

Stage was where I started my acting career. I was a junior equity member at 14 and played Dunyasha in Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ directed by RSC’s Bill Wilkinson. I was regularly working on stage (both comedy and drama) until I left school. However, I couldn’t fund drama school at that point in my life so took a different path. I ended up doing a Law and German degree and going into Banking! Although it took me off course for a while it was terrific life-experience for when I returned to acting seven years ago. 

“I studied for a year at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and worked with students and teachers at Prague International Film School, helping me develop essential skills.”

I’ve been lucky to regularly work, mainly in Film and TV since then, and am repped by an incredible agent, IAM’s Helen Kelly.

I have both American and British passports and switch easily between accents.That’s been very useful!

Photo credit: Still from ‘Milo’. Tripod Productions, creative Lions 2022

Who inspired you to become an actress and why?

I was inspired by my mum’s love of old Hollywood. Katharine Hepburn, and Bette Davies were two of my favourites. Katharine was a trailblazer, committing to working on female-led films even when they weren’t commercially successful. Bette was one of a kind, refusing to fit stereotypes of the time, instead playing complex, often unlikeable characters. Acting’s developed into something far more naturalistic, but these womens’ screen presence, resilience and work ethic still inspire me today.

What are your best projects to date?

I’ve been lucky to work on varied projects with super-talented teams. My first lead feature film role, ‘Susan’, by Mahmoud Shoolizadeh, won me 4 best-actress awards. It’s a beautiful film about the traumatic effect of PTSD on a marriage. I won best supporting actress for the feature ‘British Made’ where I play the alcoholic mother of a radicalised ex-offender. We won 18 awards for the BFI-premiered short ‘Nora’ depicting the state of the NHS. Two great horror films to mention are the feature film ‘Hosts’ (named in Harpers Bazaar’s annual ‘Top Ten Best Horror Films’), and the critically-acclaimed ‘The Stranger’ where I play lead role Amanda, due for UK release in 2023. 

Recent TV roles include Mistress Grinwell in the Amazon Original series ‘Wheel of Time’ and appearances in ‘Coronation St’, ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Casualty.’

Can you tell us about your writing work you’ve done?

I wrote and co-produced a short drama ‘Milo’ about grief and mental health. We’ve received several awards including Best Film and Best Actress. We worked with mental health and bereavement charities to develop the film, working with schools to create a teachers’ pack to help teens and young adults discuss loss.

Photo credit: Still from the ‘Stranger’ Mike Clarke, Paul Gerrard 2023

Any upcoming projects you look forward to?

I’m excited to return soon to Prague for performance capture for the famous Warhorse studios on a popular video game.

And there are four projects which I’m especially excited to see released in 2023: The Horror Anthology ‘Lore’, where I play opposite Ben Crompton (‘Game of Thrones’) in the lead role of a mother, protecting her son from a vengeful ghost. The film ‘Charlotte’ is a thriller by Georgia Conlan where I play the social worker of a convicted paedophile. I play Chief Constable Wilbury opposite Edward Hogg, in the feature ‘The Lonely Musketeer’, and I play an eccentric commune leader in the brilliant short comedy ‘Pyramid of Disunion’ for Film4. 

Having returned to acting as a more mature actor, I feel very privileged to be working in this amazing industry. Excited for what’s to come!