REEL WOMEN: Actor, writer, producer, Jennifer Goodman

Jennifer Karum
Jennifer Karum

Editor’s Note: Five years ago we had an idea. Being a woman-owned publication, it made sense to celebrate women who were making a difference in the industries we cover. So, we started a feature for Women’s History Month called “Reel Women.” Over the last four years, we have gotten to know leaders, mentors and visionaries from a variety of creative industries. This is our 5th Annual REEL WOMEN. For the month of March, let us introduce you to some very special women like Actor, Writer, Producer Jennifer Goodman.

Jennifer Goodman is a multi-hyphenate from Chicago, known for her role across Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul and starring role in the TV series, Conrad, that she created/produced, about a female detective on the autism spectrum uncovering a covert operation.

Jennifer, who mirrors her character Kate Conrad in Conrad, is also on the Autism Spectrum and brings authenticity to the role. She also created, and produced the psychological thriller, The Nest that won her a notable Top Women Producers award in 2018. She is the co-founder of Lakefront Pictures, LLC with Ryan Atkins, the two write and produce narrative content. She produced, won several festival awards for psychological thriller, Blackhatter (2022) and Pictures Only.

Jennifer’s most recent feature film, The Unseen, directed by Vincent Shade (The Letter) starring RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad) and Christian Stolte (Chicago Fire), that she wrote, produced and also acted in, just received an international sales agent. More announcements on where you can see the movie locally are coming soon.

Let’s meet Jennifer.

What’s your origin story?

So this is a bit long — apologies in advance, but it is part of who I am. My story is somewhat different than most, but has helped shape who I am, allowed me to channel my passion and given me a safe space to create.

When I was born the doctors were concerned based on my lack of responsiveness, that I was similar to Helen Keller. It took years before I was correctly diagnosed and although I was constantly proving doctors wrong, my family and peers didn’t know how to handle some of my responses and behaviors that were so far from what society considers “normal.” Although I was sweet and very nice, I didn’t respond to much and had a difficult time entering in conversation with peers and struggled with interpersonal boundaries because I would try too hard which came across too intense! I just wanted to be a part of, and fit in. As I’ve grown older I’ve channeled this energy into my passion in creativity, getting things done efficiently, setting up and building teams, raising capital, previous roles in business development, finding solutions in the immediate, and creating! It’s become my super power and has helped my success in sales environments and producing!

As a result, I suffered from constant peer rejection, an abusive teacher, and struggled in my family, but I never let that keep me down. With a father who always believed in me, and a mother who was active in my therapy when I was real young, who helped me get early intervention, I was connected to some of the most profound psychotherapists, who specialized in children with Autism and developmental disabilities. Through this, I was able to start learning skills most acquire on their own at such a young age.

Although my development is slower than most, I have continued on an upward trajectory toward success and learning skills that are more acceptable in society. To this day, it’s still trial and error.

Very early in my intervention, I began surpassing expectations and broke the mold as we know it. In spite of what I’ve gone through and obstacles I’ve faced, I am so proud to say that I have my B.A. am married, an actress who’s been on many projects and shows, a producer, writer AND founder/CEO of a production company that gives voices to those who don’t normally have a voice. And that’s what the foundation of my company stems on.

How did you get into film industry?

Although no one thought I would be able to talk, once I started I couldn’t stop. Haha. I love to talk, in fact I talked so much that many thought acting classes would be perfect for me. I was always interested in dancing and theater growing up and even at an early age, my older cousin was always dancing and singing for the family and I loved it, so I would join and it became a passion of mine. Since I also was a good singer and had such a passion for writing and the film industry, it was the perfect place to channel all of my energy and creativity.

Who were your mentors?

Goodness, I have so many. In my personal life, my dad. Several different teachers that did support me, and in the film industry Lesli Linka Glatter, (Homeland director/EP, Now & Then and many more), who motivates and inspires me. We had a great phone call one day, that changed a lot of my perspective. She’s a brilliant woman, who I look up to very much. We stay in touch here (via text) and we’ve been on some zoom calls, and she is just the most humble person. Also, Vincent Shade, our director of The Unseen. He’s always been encouraging and provides feedback and support that has helped me learn and grow in the film side of the industry. I didn’t go to film school, so I’ve had my own through experiences over the last 6 years!

While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

In the industry? Making a TV pilot with celebrity talent who I’m still close to, and the fact I wrote, produced a feature, got a great cast and crew and got distribution the same year feels super impressive!

In my personal life, having graduated college, marrying an incredible husband, and getting a house when doctors all questioned if any would be possible.

What drives you to create?

Being part of a team that allows me to use creativity and my passion, bringing something to life and being able to bring ideas and conquering tasks.

Award you crave, but haven’t won?

Oscar! Of course! (I’ve wanted to be on the red carpet since I was 3!)

What shows/movies/songs are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?

Hmm… I would say – Morning show, Homeland, (Flowers by Miley Cyrus), Christina Aguilera Fighter.

Is there still a boys club in the film industry?

Unfortunately yes, although it is getting better. Women are breaking into film more and doing incredible things both in front of and behind the camera. I love seeing many more women directors out there! I think it’s wonderful that so many women are creating their own projects as well.

Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman (living or dead) you would like to attend each function with?

Coffee with Rosa Parks – having such an integral part of change, standing up for oneself and showing what real empowerment is.

Lunch with Oprah – this woman is influential and such a game changer. It would be amazing to have coffee with her.

Happy hour with, am I allowed to say two? Jennifer Aniston, who I’ve looked up to since I was little! I even got the “Rachel” hair cut when I was young! And Reese Witherspoon. I think we’d all have so much fun it would be a blast with the bubbly positive energy we all have! Powerhouses! I would say Reese Witherspoon, because she’s a self-starter with an energy that is palpable, and she’s done what I yearn to do, plus, she’s super talented and it would be a dream to work with her. I yearn for my company to be similar to hers. (Hey Reese! If you’re reading this, or your team, would love to pick your brain! 🙂

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled against Roe v Wade. If you oppose the decision, what can women in your industry do to defend a woman’s rights?

As a woman who has overcome many obstacles, I strongly advocate for women’s rights. Women in my industry can use their platforms to educate and spread awareness. We can donate to abortion clinics and organizations such as Planned Parenthood, attend rallies and protests. We can also use our talent to create art that tells women’s stories – women who are pregnant but having the child would put them at risk, women who were raped and are pregnant — showing what women go through as opposed to just telling is also very powerful.

What’s up with Beyoncé being nominated for 4 Best Albums of the year but never winning?

I truly don’t know, she deserves all the accolades. She’s Queen Bee! It’s also a missed opportunity to honor a black woman in the industry who is an absolute icon and is killing it.



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