Youth Impact Report 2012: Channeling Talent

Most young actors might have used their first series paychecks on a luxury splurge, but Connor Jessup spent his “Saddle Club” bucks to produce an indie film: “Amy George” played at last year’s Toronto Intl. Film Festival. This year, Jessup was named a Rising Star by the fest and stars in “Blackbird,” which premiered at TIFF, as a teen accused of plotting a Columbine-like spree.

In addition to a flourishing indie film career, Jessup gained widespread exposure as the alien-abducted teen Ben in TNT’s sophomore series “Falling Skies” from Steven Spielberg. Though not featured prominently in the first season, Jessup jumped into action hero mode this year as the conduit between the humans and extraterrestrials.

Both “Amy” and “Falling” proved major breakthroughs for the Toronto native: “?’Falling’ opened doors for me in the U.S., where it is hard for Canadian actors to break in, and raised my meter in L.A., where I never had one before,” Jessup says. “?’Amy’ broke through a different kind of barrier, that made me understand I wanted to make movies. ‘Falling’ had the bigger impact, but ‘Amy’ was a milestone in understanding where I wanted to go in my career.”

Jessup also wrote, produced and directed the shorts “Something” and “I Don’t Hurt Anymore!” in addition to writing and directing the play “Pushing Normal,” for which he won an Award of Distinction at the 2010 Sears Drama Festival.

“My goal since ‘Amy George’ is to direct my first feature before I’m 24 or 25, so I’m racing against Orson Welles,” Jessup says.

Impact: Jessup’s alien-abducted role expanded greatly in the second season of “Falling Skies.”
Next: Filming just began on season three of TNT’s alien skein.
Causes: Free the Children, working to end child labor and poverty.

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