Janet Montgomery already has many people convinced that she was born in the great state of New Jersey, even as her birthplace and natural speaking accent are U.K. all the way.
As the lead character of CBS’ Friday-night entry “Made in Jersey,” Montgomery exhibits an authentic accent she honed by working with a dialogue coach and surrounding herself with people from the Garden State.
“I kind of pride myself on playing characters that are not like myself. I’ve played a stripper. I quite like the challenge,” Montgomery says of her character. Martina Garretti is a Jersey attorney who works at a white-shoe Manhattan law firm and navigates the cultural and class differences that arise from her working-class background.
“It’s so attractive to embody a character as colorful and strong as Martina is,” says Montgomery, who started acting at the age of 12 on a BBC children’s show. “It’s hard to explain what happens when you read something like this: A strong female lead, morally a very good person, someone who has spunk and is feminine and, at the same time, is incredibly intelligent.”
One could argue that Montgomery shares those attributes. Her previous credits include roles in “Entourage,” “Human Target,” “Our Idiot Brother” and “Black Swan.” This is her first series lead, and she’s still adjusting to acting in nearly every scene during 16-hour shoot days at Brooklyn’s Steiner Studios.
“I’ve never gotten to live with a character like I have with this one,” she says. “I am Martina, in her makeup all day, her hair extensions, the clothes. Sometimes I’ll talk with my character’s voice after hours. It hasn’t happened with other roles, but everyone says you find a rhythm.”