Jandae Percem is a Turkish-American actress, director, producer, model, and mom! You may wonder how she has time to manage all this… Not only that, in 2018, she founded her own film production company Oceans Filmworks. After having majored in Information Technology, she then pursued acting and studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC. Additionally, she continued her acting education at the Susan Batson Studio. Jandae Percem first gained recognition playing the teenager, Ashly, one of the lead roles in the movie, “Blue Lake” (circa 2013). In 2014, she played roles in two Turkish TV series, “Hersey Yolunda Merkez” and “Ask Kac Beden Giyer.” We’ve also seen Jandae in the Netflix’s series “Orange Is The New Black” and “Person Of Interest.”
Jandae directed and produced her first film in horror Entity Project in 2018, and she is in the process of producing, directing, and acting in her second feature film with a number of proven actors and filmmakers (expected to be released in 2019).
She’s also working in a documentary about the World Women Boxing Champion Jennifer Han (who is her sister in law) to compare and explain what it means to be a female boxer, cons and pros of it, challenges, etc.
To stay tuned for the latest news on Jandae you can follow her on Instagram @jandaepercem
How did you start your career as an actress?
Believe it or not, I went to college for Information Technology… I am a big advocate of “women in tech.” I did take roles in our end of year plays in elementary school and during high school I told my mom I wanted to study acting. Of course, my mom wasn’t supportive of that due to the enormous competition and the inherent risks and challenges in the industry. But during college, I found myself in search of who I was and what I wanted in life. Seeing my actor friends go after their dreams motivated me into believing I could too. I listened to my hearth and put my days on the keyboard behind me, I moved to NYC in 2012 and my winding journey began.
If you had to choose one, which one would you choose? Acting or directing?
I love acting. Acting helps me connect with and escape myself at the same time. Being a movie junkie I tend to watch certain scenes over and over again trying to figure out how things are done and what made that scene so special. But being able to write a story and put into motion what you imagine is an amazing experience, so more recently I feel like I’m being drawn towards directing.
What made you start another career path?
After having my son, I didn’t do anything related to acting for a whole year.
Having a full-time job in real estate sales and being a mom full time makes it almost impossible to chase auditions. I decided it was time to create my own project with the time I had available as a new mom. Being a mom can be tough (especially with little Atlas recently turning 2) but it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
You recently produced and directed your first film, “Entity Project.” How was the experience and how long did it take you to get it done?
I wrote the story of the Entity Project a few months before it was shot. I wanted the cast to be all-female, unique, and diverse – so I reached out to my actress friends who I knew well from past projects or who I went to acting school with. Entity Project is a horror film, so I had to find the most perfect creaky old house to shoot it in.
I get scared watching horror movies so for me to write and direct a horror story was pretty intense. I’m thankful for the cast and crew because they did an incredible job sticking to the task at hand and to do what was needed under a tight timeline. At night, we had to keep the lights on inside while we slept because the scenes shot earlier were so intense! I don’t want to spoil it or anything, but we all sort of felt like we were still under the influence of the story in that house. Shooting the film took about 5 days but post production took about six months.
You just finished it and are already involved in directing and producing your second film. What is it about?
Yes, I’m really excited about it too! “Under the Snow”, which takes place in Eastern Turkey in the early 1990’s, is about the struggles of a teacher who is struck by the tragedy of a local, domestic terrorist attack. The film will also focus on the small village lifestyle of Eastern Turkey – which isn’t similar to the modern parts of the country, like Istanbul and Izmir, where I’ve lived.
We will also focus on the everyday challenges that kids from small villages have to overcome in order to not only receive a simple education, but in many cases to get to school.
How do you combine all that work with being a mom?
It’s not easy and sleep can be evasive at times. Sometimes I even sit down and write down how many hours work consumes versus how many hours I’m spending with my son. I grew up with both of my parents living overseas and not being able to see them for many many years, so it’s very important that I’m making sure my son sees me as much as other kids see their parents.
What is another project you’d love to be able to work on someday?
I’m truly inspired by women who are pushing the envelope and opening doors for the rest of us going forward – and often times they aren’t rewarded in the same way as men (whether by recognition, pay, or otherwise). I’d like to introduce the world via a documentary to the story of a women boxer, Jennifer Han, who is currently the IBF World Champion. She lives in El Paso and is a true role model for the children (especially girls) in her community, yet even after four consecutive title defenses, she is still far from being a household name and she is paid far less than her male counterparts. And I’d love to help put her on the world stage and give her the recognition she deserves.