Haute Interview: Jaime Pressly

Jaime Pressley is a jack of all trades. She’s an actress, a former fashion designer, a dancer, a philanthropist and a mother. Now she can add executive producer to her growing list of skills. The 35-year-old star is producing a special holiday edition of The Rouge Follies to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital this Sunday, Dec. 9, at LA’s iconic Fonda Theatre. In addition to producing the Vaudeville/Cabaret-style show directed by Kristin Hanggi of Broadway’s Rock of Ages, she’ll also be starring in it alongside Mad Men’s Kevin Rahm and Broadway vet James Snyder. We chatted with Jaime just says before she Follies goes live about what it takes to produce a show, the ups and downs of the entertainment industry and why she wants her five-year-old son to wait before following in her footsteps.

Tell us about producing Rouge Follies. It sounds like it’s been stressful.
Producing is never easy. [For this particular event], everything has to happen on one night. There’s so much anticipation and planning and expectation that goes into one night. It’s not like we get to do a film or show where you can make a mistake and shoot it again. When it’s done it’s done.

Is this your first time acting as a producer?
I had a clothing line [Jaime Collection] for seven years , but I got rid of it three to four years ago. I couldn’t do ten things at one time. If I can’t do something 100%, I’m not going to do it all. I produced 22 fashion shows for the line.  Because our shows were so entertaining, we’d get hired to do them in Atlanta, Vegas, Miami. I always hired professional dancers; the shows were choreographed and free-style, super produced, over-produced and fun.

I know what it is to produce a live event. This one is more than anyone thought it would be, because we’re dealing with a charity situation. We have to covering our own costs and make money for the charity. In this day and age with the economy like it is, people aren’t donating like they used to. Before, it was like, no problem, how many cars do you need? This time around we got five…and it took three weeks to get them. People used to die to give you money for a worthy cause, if just to get a tax write-off at the end of the year. That’s been the biggest struggle.

You’re also appearing in the show as well, correct?
I’m performing in it, but I haven’t performed onstage since before [5-year-old son] Desi was born. I used to perform with the Pussycat Dolls before Nicole Scherzinger, before they were a musical group. I used to go around the country performing. I was in my 20’s I had no fear. But then I had a baby and all of sudden your life, your world changes; you change. While I was preparing, I literally got a case of stage fright. I had to get over my stage fright and produce at the same time, which was a challenge.

Did you get over your stage fright, or is that still lingering?
I got over it; I didn’t have time to be scared. Once I got in the studio I was surrounded by other dancers and friends.  It just came back, it was like riding a bike. Kevin Rahm [of Desperate Housewives and Mad Men] is performing with me. I wasn’t concerned about getting big-name actors in it, I was worried more about making sure people who knew theater were in it. That was my biggest concern. James Snyder just got off from doing the lead in Cry Baby on Broadway and he’s about to do Dinah  next; I got him in between. He plays every instrument, and he’s self-taught. He’s just incredible.

Proceeds from the show are being donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. How long have you been working with them?
I’ve been working with St. Jude’s for 15 years.  Every time I threw a fashion show, I’d raise money for St. Jude’s.

Now that you’ve got the producing bug, will you continue to act?
Absolutely. The process of doing films is not my favorite, but I love television. Television is a quicker turnaround. You shoot more during the day, which makes me  feel more productive. It would be like, I did five scenes today and ten pages. That’s television. With a movie you go ‘Oh my god, I’ve been here 17 hours and shot two pages for the same scene.’ That said, I Love You, Man was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. All the films have been great experiences,  sans maybe three of them. But with films, you have to pick up and leave all the time. When I had Desi I vowed not to do that. Now that he’s in kindergarden, I’m especially not going to pick up and take him away.

If you got your dream role, would you leave?
I don’t have one specific dream role: I’m an actor so I want to play everything. In this business they’ll pigeonhole you in two seconds if you’re great at the role you play. Everyone assumes that you’re really just like that character. If you really want do something, you’ve got to do it yourself nowadays. Look at Rashida Jones; she did it. She wanted to play some different roles because everyone was giving her the same role over and over again. That’s what they do. She got sick of it and decided to write and produce and now she’s not only successful, but she’s happy. I mean, I would have loved to do Chicago but I was filming so the timing wouldn’t have worked out anyway.  I’m giving an example of something that would have been great.

Do you think your son will follow in your footsteps when he grows up?
Unfortunately, yes: he does have performing blood in him. He directs us every night like life is a play. He performs for us, he sings, he dances, he’s a little showboat — he’s a ham.

But I do not want my son to go through what I went through. I don’t want him to deal with the rejection at a young age that you have to deal with in this business. The business can be really intimidating and I don’t want him to feel that kind of competition. I want him to be a kid and have a normal life.

Why should someone see Rouge Follies?
I can’t stress enough how great of a date night this is. We create an experience for you where the dancers come from behind you in the audience, in the ceiling, front of stage and back of couches. You are in the show when you’re there. It’s so fun. It’s so entertaining. It’s so funny. It’s not burlesque — it’s true vaudeville.

Purchase tickets for Rouge Follies HERE

WHEN:            Sunday, December 9th
TIME: 6:15PM (doors open) 7:30PM (show)
LOCATION: The Fonda Theater, 6126 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

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