Like most stars, Christina Jackson started acting at a young age. However, she was not immediately taken by the craft. She was in seventh grade when she landed her first role as Frenchie in Grease, but it didn’t go quite as planned. In fact, there was no grease lightning in her performance.
“Believe it or not, I was horrible,” Jackson said. “I could not remember any of my lines. My drama teacher was basically in the wings feeding me my lines, and I felt horrible about it.”
Despite a shaky debut, Jackson turned it around Rocky style, proving to herself and others that she has what it takes. In fact, her performance in Grease sticks with her to this day, teaching her a valuable lesson about memorization. She explained that her memory is pristine now when it comes to lines in her current roles and that if she forgets anything else, she knows that at least she’ll know her lines.
“From that point on, I had made it up in my mind that I was never going to do that again,” Jackson said. “After that, [my drama teacher] trusted me with another role of Annie and I memorized all of it within a week. I knew the entire script back-to-back.”
As mentioned earlier, Jackson has starred alongside the greats like Michael K. Williams and Steve Buscemi in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and NBC’s short-lived drama Deception, starring Meagan Good. However, these were not her only roles. She can also be seen in Harold and had a guest spot on Elementary.
“Deception was good for me in the sense that I was able to get my feet wet in primetime,” Jackson said. “To be able to work with such great actors like Victor Garber and Meagan Good, who was an absolute doll… just to have that autonomy to be able to do primetime and a cable network were both things that I can say I’m grateful to have on my resume as an actress.”
Jackson calls her time on Boardwalk Empire a learning experience, and like many of her former co-stars, she feels grateful to have been a part of such a great project. She says that the long hours on set prepared her for her upcoming role.
“Boardwalk Empire—just that whole opportunity is probably one of the best jobs that I ever had,” Jackson said. “I love HBO and I love how their programming is so diverse. So to have a show like Boardwalk Empire come to me was amazing.”
Now, Jackson has found a new home on WGN’s Outsiders, where she will play Sally-Ann, a sweet and seemingly nice young lady who has a strength all her own. Sally-Ann resides in the town just below the mountain where the mysterious Farrells have lived for hundreds of years and is curious when they barge into the convenient store where she works one day. After all, as the “outsiders” of their small town in Kentucky, she’s heard the stories and the legends about them likely passed down from generation to generation. Sally-Ann finds herself in the midst of all of the drama as she embarks on an interesting relationship with one of the infamous Farrells.
“There is some remnants of a relationship,” Jackson said. “I don’t know that it could be described as a typical boyfriend/girlfriend relationship because it is definitely not that. But there is an attraction there. She has had a fascination with the Farrells, so for her to come face-to-face with one who is young and cute, and for him to display some interest in her, is something that is very relatable.”
The show is making a conscious decision not to focus on the fact that Sally-Ann is a black woman and the Farrell that she develops a relationship with is a white man. This is not to erase the identities of both characters, but to focus in on the extreme contrasts in their separate worlds on the mountain and in the town. This decision makes Outsiders different from some of the big TV shows out right now, but that isn’t the only reason.
“You’ve never really seen anything like this before,” Jackson said. “The story is very real; there are families of people who have chosen to live away from the general society. I feel like Outsiders is special because you are getting a glimpse of what these people call life.”
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Christina Jackson Tells Us What Makes WGN’s ‘Outsiders’ So Unique: photo courtesy of KING