Melrose’s Jessica is shining in the spotlight

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It’s been quite a year for Melrose actress Jessica Hardwick, with an award win and leading roles in two famous plays under her belt.

She was recently awarded the 2014 Billy Award by CATS (Critical Awards for Theatre in Scotland) in Glasgow for her portrayal of Sonya in Chris Hannan’s adaptation for the stage of Dostoyevsky’s powerful novel, Crime and Punishment.

What makes her win even more of an achievement is that at the time of her performance she had only just completed her degree in acting at the Glasgow Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RSAMD).

Jessica told WOW: “I was totally shocked to be nominated let alone win.

“It was the first year for the Billys, so I didn’t know anything about them at all.

“When you do a show you don’t think about winning awards you just get on with your job and try to give the role your all.

“I was very lucky to have worked with a great team on Crime and Punishment .

“My fellow cast members and director werejust amazing and that made by job a lot easier.”

Sonya isn’t the only part Jessica has garnered rave reviews for. She also played Christine, the devout cook in Strindberg’s Miss Julie, another serious and demanding role, whereas in Guy Hollands’ musical farce, Bauble Trouble, she had a more light-hearted part, playing 

Described as a must see for children at the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow last December, the production of Bauble Trouble was lauded as “Awe-inspiring” by reviewers.

To cap an amazing year for the young actress, Jessica has scooped the part of one of the sisters in John Byrne’s adaptation of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, which is to be staged at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow and at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh in October.

WOW spoke to her on the first day of rehearsals earlier this week and she was excited to get started.

She told us:“I’m a great fan of Chekov and I did his play Uncle Vanya when I was at drama school.

“It’s a great honour to be doing another of his shows and I’m looking forward to the run.

“Graduating from drama school, I never knew what the year would entail, but I’ve been so lucky.”

Before winning awards further afield, Jessica was known in the Borders for her performances in shows at Earlston High School, Galashiels Amateur Operatic Society and Borders Youth Theatre.

And she attributes the grounding she got in theatre closer to home with her more recent success.

She revealed: “If it hadn’t been for Earlston High and Gala Opera, Jeff Thompson particularly, I would n’t be where I am now.

“My experience locally gave me a real foundation and knowledge of the theatre world and the tools I needed to progress.

“I still have very fond memories of my first show with Gala, playing the lead in Annie – we had a real dog as Sandy, it was so much fun.

“As far as the future is concerned, I’m just excited to see what happens. I’m just taking one job at a time.

“I love Shakespeare, so my dream would be to end up at The Globe with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

“But until then I’m happy with how things are going.

“I’m really enjoying the diversity of everything that comes my way.”