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Hollywood Unscripted

Episode 40 - Jessica Rhoades (Utopia):

A Stuck at Home Special

Jessica Rhoades Headshot.png

Jessica Rhoades, executive producer of SHARP OBJECTS, DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY, THE AFFAIR and Amazon’s new Original Series, UTOPIA, discusses her career, supporting the writer’s vision, mentoring, and advice for creatives. 

Executive Producer Jessica Rhoades joins host Jenny Curtis to talk about the new Amazon Original series UTOPIA, her career, supporting the writer’s vision, mentoring, and advice for creatives. Through the conversation they discuss:


0:59 - The experience of putting two series out during quarantine, DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY and UTOPIA. 

2:54 - The title of ‘non-writing executive producer’ and what Jessica does in production. 

4:34 - Discovering that she could be a producer when seeing Marti Noxon’s name in the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER credits

5:52 - Jessica’s fan-girl moment when beginning to work with Marti Noxon. 

7:29 - The friction on the set of SHARP OBJECTS making the project better. 

8:26 - Working with first time showrunners and supporting Gillian Flynn in her first experience as showrunner. 

10:39 - Having Dennis Kelly, the creator of the British UTOPIA, involved in this version. 

11:45 - How UTOPIA began and Jessica’s first impression of the scripts. 

13:58 - Hiding the violence of the show while working from home with children. 

14:56 - The fun of making the show and the experience of creating ‘FringeCon’. 

16:28 - Getting John Cusack on board, when he doesn’t normally work on series. 

17:13 - Casting the rest of the actors, including Sasha Lane. 

18:01 - Sharing a name with the main character. 

19:08 - Sasha’s fight training. 

19:29 - The actors’ knowledge of who makes it through the show and who doesn’t. 

20:04 - Growing up through her career, from Disney to Blumhouse to Pacesetter Productions

23:29 - What Jason Blum saw in Jessica to know that she would be a good fit for the Head of Television. 

24:47 - Her upcoming series STATION ELEVEN being another project about a virus. 

27:21 - The UTOPIA team’s reaction when the pandemic first hit. 

27:57 - The mentorship program #StartWith8Hollywood and advice that can be given to upcoming creatives. 

30:06 - Why to shoot an independent feature rather than a spec pilot. 

31:22 - Joining an established show

31:53 - Taking new lessons, even personal ones, from each set. 

32:30 - Not having official mentors of her own, but what she has instead. 

33:07 - Advice would be to her young self.  

34:00 - A life in storytelling


Hosted and Produced by: Jenny Curtis

Executive Producer: Stuart Halperin

Edited and Co-Produced by: J Whiting

Theme Music by: Celleste & Eric Dick

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