Why She’s Amazing

Jeannie Roshar doesn’t want to be a princess. She wants to be more.

After graduating from Valparaiso University, Jeannie took a risk and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. After the ups and downs that come with six years of pounding the pavement, Jeannie changed courses and wrote her first script. The script sold and, from there, opened the door for new opportunities, including directing.

Jeannie co-founded the L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival in 2009, the largest comedy film festival in the U.S. during its six-year run. Since then, she wrote and directed projects for the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Jr. She also sold a feature script to Lionsgate. Jeannie is currently directing four shows for DreamworksTV, including Life Hacks for Kids which has 50+ million views on YouTube, was the #1 video of 2015 on DreamWorksTV and won “Best Kid’s Web Series” at the Kidscreen Awards.

We had a chance to ask Jeannie a few questions. Something tells us that this modern day trailblazer’s sense of humor and persistence are a perfect combination for success.

“Your own voice and your creativity is the most ‘uniquely you’ thing you have. That’s your ticket to success, being you and working hard.” – Jeannie Roshar

Q & A

Q: When you were a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?

A: I wanted to be an actress because I loved performing for people.

Q: What did people think when you told them that?

A: When I was little, they patronized me, as if I was saying I wanted to be a princess. When I got older, they told me I would end up being a waitress.

Q: Did people call you “princess” when you were a little girl and, if so, how did that make you feel?

A: Yes, and it was hard for me to identify with it because at the time my idea of a princess was Cinderella and I did not have long blonde hair so I kind of felt like a failure from the start. I’ve also always had a loud voice and not a lot of natural grace. Bad qualities for potential princesses.

Q: How did you become interested in the entertainment industry?

A: Originally, I came to Los Angeles after college to be an actress. I had a talent for comedy, and that led me into stand-up comedy and my first TV gigs. Parts and opportunities came here and there, but despite my hard work, I just couldn’t break through. I’d hear things like “no one wants to see a pretty girl be funny.” and “you’re not pretty enough to be the leading lady, but not ugly enough to play the friend” What does that even mean? And what do you do with that? After six years of pounding the pavement, I decided to give writing a try and sold my first script, which felt amazing! Finally, some success! But, Hollywood is a roller coaster. Lots of ups and downs. And, as is the fate with many scripts, it never got made into a movie. But now, at least I knew people were interested in what I had to say, and that encouraged me to keep writing. And writing successes came, and eventually opportunities to try directing. Directing takes a huge amount of confidence, because everyone is looking at you to steer the ship and indecisiveness makes everyone on the crew frustrated. To me, it’s the hardest of all the jobs I’ve done, but also the most rewarding because I get to work on a project from an idea to the final product. And I love all the phases it goes through! It’s a hard career, and it’s been a long road, but at the end of the day, I get paid to do the thing I find more fun and interesting and exciting than anything else. And that’s awesome.

Q: Did you have a mentor or role model who inspired you?

A: So many. But, in particular, the woman who was the first person to give me a big directing job, who took a chance on me. She continues to mentor me, and I’m currently directing four shows for her. And my writing partner inspires me because he is a great role model on both how to treat people and to not take this business too seriously.

Q: Did your family and friends support your aspirations?

A: They do now, now that I make a living at what I do, but for many years, I felt like people thought I was wasting my time and abilities.

Q: Did you think about being called a “trailblazer” for choosing this path?

A: I think a lot of people choose this path, but over the years I’ve watched the majority give it up. To be a trailblazer in Hollywood to me is to keep at it, year after year, and always find a new way to get your talent out there. When something disappointing happens, I give myself two days to feel bad about it. And then, it’s on to the next idea!

Q: What motivates you?

A: Having fun. Creating. And deadlines. Everyone needs those.

Q: Of what are you most proud?

A: I’m proud now of making content that I feel good about my daughters watching. I’m proud that I didn’t give up. And I’m super proud that my kids have good manners.

Q: What would you like people to learn from you?

A: To persevere. To do something you enjoy! And, to keep your voice down when talking on your cell phone in public. We don’t need to hear your business.

Photo Gallery

Q: What three words would you like people to use to describe you?

A: Genius. Creative. Kind.

Q: What do you want people to know about you outside of your accomplishments?

A: I have A LOT of hobbies. A LOT. My Pinterest board runneth over! I love the Green Bay Packers, and my moods are greatly influenced by the outcome of the games. Grr.

Q: Who do you follow on social media that shares your passion for acting, writing and directing?

A: Mindy Kahling

Q: If you could eat lunch with one person, whom would it be?

A: Mindy Kahling, Aaron Rodgers or Prince. Easy.

Q: Which woman would you choose to have on U.S. currency?

A: I think Susan B. Anthony needs to be promoted to paper currency, stat. And the Sacajawea golden dollar was a huge joke. Quit putting us on coins. Abe Lincoln may be on the penny, but he ALSO gets the $5 bill.

Q: What advice would you give to a girl who right now wants to be just like you?

A: Your own voice and your creativity is the most ‘uniquely you’ thing you have. That’s your ticket to success, being you and working hard.

Bonus Question: What question would you ask the next Modern Day Trailblazer we interview?

A: Do you ever get to wear a business suit? I have an amazing one, but I never need it. I’ve learned they don’t expect “creative” people to dress up!

Fun Facts:

  • The last book Jeannie read was All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
  • Her go-to karaoke song is “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”.
  • Jeannie is progressively more on time the older she gets.
  • Her favorite quote is using air quotes.
  • She’s currently binge watching Silicon Valley.