Jacquelyn Jamjoom is a film and television producer serving as Executive Producer of Chicago based film production company Digital Hydra.
At Digital Hydra, Jacquelyn has produced internationally renowned TV series’, feature films, music videos and commercial content for brands such as McDonalds, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks and Facebook.
Jacquelyn also serves as contract producer and director for Tastemade, an award winning food and travel network for the digital age. At Tastemade, Jacquelyn has produced and directed content for brands like Chase Sapphire, Avocados from Mexico, ABC Digital and many more while making her way across the US, Europe and beyond to bring mouth watering food to millions of viewers worldwide.
Some of Jacquelyn’s most recent narrative work includes seasons 3 and 4 of the hit Middle Eastern TV series WaMahyaya, which are currently streaming on Amazon Prime, award winning and independently produced TV pilot Public Housing Unit, which is currently making its way through the festival circuit, and Hunting God, a feature film currently in post production.
Jacquelyn’s diverse body of work is indicative of her ultimate creative goal to tell untold stories that serve a greater purpose, encourage diversity, and promote understanding across nations, cultures and religions.
When Jacquelyn isn’t on production she is dedicated to putting her skills and network to good use. She serves as Vice-Chair of Kaleidoscope’s Associate Board, a Chicago based child welfare organization that empowers youth and families impacted by abuse and neglect to build resourcefulness, resiliency and supportive relationships.
She has also recently joined Chicago Media Standards to contribute to the conversation and policy making of sexual harassment and discrimination in the independent film and creative space.
MAHER ZAIN, “YA NABI SALAM ALAYKA”
PRODUCED BY JACQUELYN JAMJOOM
How did you get into the business? I graduated from DePaul University’s Digital Cinema program during the programs infancy. I left not really knowing how to break into the industry so I interned at Hootenany, Optimus and eventually One at Optimus where I got my first opportunity to work at a professional commercial production company. It wasn’t long after my internship that I took the skills and knowledge I learned to join Digital Hydra with my now husband and our colleague from DePaul. From that point on, I worked hard and fully accepted the proverb “fake it till you make it.”
What obstacles have you faced specifically because of your gender? I feel fortunate to have not experienced any egregious acts of discrimination as a woman. Sadly, I think we all face obstacles based on our gender, race, religion, etc. that takes shape in different ways. I’m used to being the only woman in the room and it can be lonely and easy to look for signs of discrimination. Did he ignore my feedback because I’m a woman? Did they talk over me because I’m a woman? These are the questions we ask ourselves constantly, but I choose to stay focused on the job at hand. I want to be the best I can be at the job I’m doing and not let my gender get in the way of my job.
I’m also usually the tallest person in the room, so men don’t usually look down on me. 😉
Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are a woman? I’m reminded that I am a woman on a daily basis and there’s no best thing about that. It’s messy, confusing, and tiring but it’s the only thing I know and I love it!
Work you are most proud of? One project that really stands out was a music video I produced when I was first starting out. It was for Maher Zain, a Swedish/Lebanese pop star who has millions of followers in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. It was a very difficult shoot because we were filming in LA, with hot air balloons, on a shoe string budget, with 4 different language versions to deliver. I was totally out of my element and the shoot was so hard on me, both physically and mentally. At the end of the day, we got it done and I really believe that work like this, with meaning, that serves a bigger purpose, will always work out and pay off. Today, over 60 million people have watched it in English, Arabic, Turkish and Malay! Not many westerners can appreciate how special that video is, but it was an experience that has stuck with me until today.
How do you describe the most significant #metoo moment of your life? My #metoo moment is not as a victim but as a champion of change. I’m very excited to have recently joined Chicago Media Standards and have also been working closely with a few incredible women to create our own code of conduct and protocol in the indie film industry to combat issues like sexual harassment and discrimination. I consider it my role in this movement to be a leader in setting forth and implementing clear policies for each production so cast and crew alike can rest assured that they are safe, they are protected and that there are steps in place, should something happen. That goes for women AND men.
How have professional attitudes towards women evolved during your career? We still have a long way to go but I have already noticed an influx of women in roles that have historically been held by men. I’m seeing entire camera departments made up of women, more female directors getting jobs and more scripts coming across my desk featuring strong female leads. These are signs that women are not only starting to be taken seriously in the film industry but also that we are taking ourselves seriously, which I’d argue, is the most important part.
Trapped on an island what essentials must you have? My husband would be essential as we would need to quickly populate the island with a litter of children that we would task to build an exotic 5 star resort that would become a tourist destination so we can earn enough money to get off the island and travel the world.
If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self? Wake up, you’ve been sleeping for hours! Also, you’re going to hear about this new thing called “bitcoin” buy $100 worth. Don’t ask any questions.
If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why? Right now, I’d love to meet Queen Elizabeth II. I just finished watching “The Crown” and I was really inspired by her story. She’s a woman who was thrown into power at a young age, with no preparation, during a time of intense political and social change. Not to mention, she managed to balance that incredible responsibility with that of being a wife and a mother. I could really use some tips Your Majesty!
To see the up-to-date list of Reel Women, click here.