Actress Jenna Willis is set to star as Nadia in “Three Seconds” where she will star alongside Common and Clive Owen. This role comes after her appearance in the Golden Globe and Emmy-winning TV series titled “Code Black” where she played Tanya Brown. She also appeared in “American Crime Story” and has been part of several episodes of “Criminal Minds,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Awesomeness TV.”

Jenna recently spoke about her career and her plans for the future via an exclusive interview.

Acting in television shows and movies

Meagan Meehan (MM): How and when did you uncover your passion for acting and what was the process of breaking into the Movie industry?

Jenna Willis (JW): I remember sitting in the audience of “The Newsies” when I was eight years old and thinking "This is what I want to do. I want to make people feel the way I’m feeling right now for the rest of my life." I've never felt so alive. It made me giddy. I started by taking acting classes in New York and continuously worked on my craft since. It wasn't easy and there are times when I still feel like I haven't "broken into the industry," but I'm just happy that I have the opportunity to wake up and do what I love every day.

MM: How did you land gigs on famous shows like “Criminal Minds” and “Grey’s Anatomy”?

JW: By working hard and being consistent and unrelenting. My agents got me the auditions and I had to go into a room and sit in front of producers and literally (in the case of “Grey's Anatomy”) pour my heart out.

MM: What characters did you play in these television shows?

JW: Playing Amy Gibbs on “Criminal Minds” will forever make me weary of Uber drivers (laughs). It's not every day you get beheaded! The role of Kim Welles, on “Grey's Anatomy,” had me playing a sorority girl who had a little too much to drink along with....spoiler alert; flaming shots - something I'd never recommend to anyone!

I seem to always be dying!

Film scenes, cool characters, and projects

MM: Do you have any especially fun or interesting behind-the-scenes stories?

JW: Literally, hundreds, but in the interest of saving time I'll just share one that really stuck with me. I remember getting on set and seeing all of these incredible actors and then spotting David Schwimmer.

I remember walking up to him and reminding myself to play it cool. After we started talking, one of the very first things he asked me was "What else do you do?" and I was standing there thinking "I MADE IT! I'M HERE TALKING TO YOU! What do you mean what else do I do? This is all I want to do!" So, I told him I was producing my own sketch web-series and he was kind enough to watch it. When he told me I was funny, I only peed my pants a little bit! (laughs) He did a great job of reminding me to always strive to be more than just a performer.

MM: What sorts of characters have you played and which roles are most intriguing to you?

JW: I've always been drawn to the deeper, darker roles, similar to Charlize Theron's character in “Monster,” for example, and I find myself touching the tip of the iceberg with the roles I've been playing.

But I'd love to go darker and I’m ready for that role. A lot of people meet me and think because I'm goofy and light hearted that I'd play lighter roles, which I love, but ultimately it's the darker ones that excite me.

MM: Can you tell us about your latest project and character?

JW: A film called “Three Seconds” which has yet to be released. I play a ball-busting prostitute that gets in a little too deep (no pun intended).

MM: What most inspires you when you are preparing for a role?

JW: Simply put, it's the discovery of who the character is; the process that ensues.

MM: What’s coming up next for you creatively and where do you hope to go from here?

JW: Creatively, I've worked on a few movies that I'm excited about.

From an indie feature called “Fishbowl California” to a more mainstream film called “Three Second,” 2018 is looking like a diverse year. As far as television you can catch me on “Code Black” on CBS and Verizon Go90/AWESOMENESSTV's “Romance Anthology.” I hope to keep this flow going and in the meantime I just keep pumping my iron (literally) and eating my Wheaties. (laughs)

MM: What words of advice do you have for youngsters who are up and coming in the entertainment industry?

JW: Acting is more than a dream. It is a career that takes lots of dedication, persistence, and patience. To put it bluntly, if you can't live without it, do it. If you can live without it, find a different career.