From station hand to TV star
TRUCK driver, station hand, social media personality... and now Jillaroo Jess can cross TV star off the list of positions she's held as well.
Pilbara woman Jessica Edwards, known on Facebook as Jillaroo Jess, will be live on air this Friday working in front of the camera with popular four-wheel drive show Terrain Tamers.
Jess's social media page, where she posts videos and photos from her work in the Pilbara, caught the attention of Terrain Tamers, so earlier this year the show's stars travelled to WA to film in her sprawling backyard.
In between a busy schedule of promoting the show, Jess caught up with the Rural Weekly to talk acting and what it felt like to be part of a show highlighting the Pilbara.
How would you describe the shooting process of filming Terrain Tamer?
It was a new experience for me so it was interesting to learn how it's all done. I guess I was surprised at how much hard work it can be and the length of hours. We all get along like wildfire so was a lot of fun and I loved showing them this part of the country.
How was it working with Allan and Andrew? They seem like quite the characters.
Allan and Andrew both have a lot of knowledge in their areas so it was great to be able to learn from them. It was funny at times how filming would come to a halt when they'd suddenly start debating a part of some sort while the producer tapped her fingers. It was clear that this wasn't an uncommon occurrence!
I believe they enjoyed the Pilbara. I wish I got to take them more places though as it really is a unique part of the world.
Had you ever acted before?
Apart from my online theatrics, I haven't acted since I was at school. It's definitely something I'd like to work on.
How did the whole project come to be? How did Terrain Tamer get in touch with you?
About a year ago I posted a photo of my Toyota Vdj79 Landcruiser ute on my social media as I headed 2200k's south to work for the harvest season. The marketing manager at Terrain Tamer saw this photo and sent me a message. Landcruisers are their bread and butter and he is an ideas man so it all went from there.
You are proving ladies, regardless of where they live, can have fantastic opportunities. Do you feel like a rural inspiration?
Honestly, I don't feel like an inspiration, no. I'm just a normal person. Though I am aware of the impact that I have - especially on young people - so I try my best to be worthy of this.
Has this awoken a TV dream? Would you like to do more work in this field?
I really do enjoy filming and TV and would love to be involved in more... so long as it doesn't force me to move to the city I'll be happy!
Are you still working on a property near Karratha? How was the balance been between this project and property work?
I was still based on a cattle station north of Karratha while filming but I've finished up there now. At the time of writing I am currently headed south to Esperance, Western Australia, to cart grain for the harvest season again.
It wasn't a simple thing to organise the filming in a station mechanical workshop. Station life is a 365-day job and there were times when we had to stop filming to allow for work to carry on around us.
I'm very appreciative to Terrain Tamer, the station owners and other workers for being so flexible in this situation. In general it can be very difficult juggling my 'normal' work life with bits of filming. They generally aren't industries that go hand in hand but it's worth it.
What can we expect from the Terrain Tamer show?
Lots of red dirt, plenty of Allan's usual quips and, of course, heaps information on car parts that have made driving my ute an absolute dream. I think a lot of your readers would find the information useful as this season really does cater for a genuine outback ute.
Your Facebook page is still kicking goals, and your truckie tour video surpassed more than two million views. Incredible stuff. What's the long-term plan?
I know! Every now and then my truckie tour video makes the rounds again and my page lights up with notifications. It still blows my mind. I take each opportunity as it comes so of course there will be some content from my sponsors from time to time. However, I aim to keep it as authentic as it's always been.
Is there anything you would like to add?
There have been times when I've been pegged in the media as feminist heroine, for lack of a better word. While I love encouraging women to reach their potential and to get out and have a go, I don't want people to get the wrong idea.
I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have some amazing men teaching me and supporting me. I'm constantly learning and still make mistakes, so no matter who you are, don't be afraid to give something new a go.