UK's youngest award winning film maker is teen Burnley actress who shines in her latest role

"A powerful performance."

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4:08 pm

That is how an award winning British producer described an extraordinarily talented Burnley teenager's portrayal of a bullied schoolgirl in a new film.

The accolade came from Jules Hussey, the Bafta winning TV producer of shows that include Guilt, Katherine The Great and Call the Midwife for 14-year-old Jessica Fay who took the lead role in the short film, simply entitled 'Jessica.'

The hard hitting and extremely powerful film tells the harrowing story of the effects bullying can have on children.

Talented actress and writer Jessica Fay is the UK's youngest award winning film maker
Talented actress and writer Jessica Fay is the UK's youngest award winning film maker

And although a gifted actress Jessica drew on some of her own experiences of being bullied to bring real pathos to the challenging role.

Her proud mum, Laura Bell, said: "There were moments during filming when she had the crew in tears, it was that emotional and powerful."

The story revolves around Jessica as the central character who is struggling to navigate a new life after her father leaves the family home and she has only her mum and younger brother. The victim of repeated verbal and physical attacks from bullies at school, when the abuse reaches a new level Jessica becomes desperate.

The film was adapted from a story by Amanda Andrews and written by Joe Vuckovic but it takes inspiration from a poem written by Laura.

Jessica Fay in a scene from the film 'Jessica' which puts the spotlight on the devastating effect of bullying

Securing the Emmy award winning Junction 15 to bring his vision to life, Joe went on to produce and make his directorial debut with 'Jessica.' His own acting coach is Oscar winning Rachel Shenton who hails from his birthplace, Stoke on Trent.

Shenton, whose film The Silent Child won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for the 90th Academy Awards in 2018, is now one of Jessica's acting coaches.

Filming for 'Jessica' was split between Burnley and Stoke. And starring alongside Jessica are aspiring young Burnley performers Jolie Forrest , Lucy Turner and Mirren O’Rourke, who were chosen after auditions were held in the town.

Due to her autism Jessica is member of the disabled artists creative network (Danc Manc). Only 11 at the time of filming, Jessica's performance has been described as 'heartbreakingly beautiful.'

Jessica with her mum Laura Bell whose poem was the inspiration for her daughter's film role

'Jessica' is now being showcased at film festivals around the world before it goes on general release.

A student at Blessed Trinity RC College in Burnley, Jessica takes it all in her stride. Her first taste of the limelight was at the age of two when she booked her first modelling job.

She continued to book regular jobs, in modelling and TV ads, for the next six years before branching out into acting roles. In 2018 she played young Sophie in Sky Cinemas Book of Monster from Dark Rift films

A keen writer, one of Jessica's stories was turned into a film script after she started her own production company Sparkle and Shine Productions.

Jessica Fay in another scene from the short film 'Jessica'

With the help of other film makers, friends and family, Jessica, who lives in Brunshaw with her mum and brothers, Kyle, Taylor, Denver and Jayden, brought to life her first short film The Making Of Alex (2020).

Jessica plans to keep writing and is currently working on the script for a 13 part TV series Cross Over, a supernatural teen drama.

And talented Jessica already has a raft of awards to her name, the latest being the Queen Palm International Film Festival Annual Award for best young filmmaker of year for The Making of Alex.

She is now the youngest award winning film maker in the UK and possibly the youngest disabled female film maker in the world.

Working privately with various screen acting coaches since she was nine Jessica is far from being a 'diva.'

Jessica raised £500 for the Brain Injury Trust and an amazing £1,500 for the Make A Wish Foundation when she donated nine inches of her hair to the charity that makes wigs for children going through cancer treatment.

Jessica reduced cast and crew to tears with her highly charged emotional performance

Jessica also gave 22 days of her own wages, totalling £205, in honour of the 22 victims of the Manchester terror attack in May, 2017.

Jessica first made the headlines when she contracted the deadly meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia when she was only three months old.