Profile: Actress Jillian Reeves

We got the opportunity to chat with Media star Jillian Reeves about making it in hollywood and her involvement with HIV Aids awareness. While Reeves is not a UCLA alumna, she still has great advice for collegietes based on her own experiences at Univeristy of South Carolina.

Check out our fabulous interview below:

Her Campus: Where did you go to college? What was your major? If possible, what is your graduation year?

Jillian Reeves: I went to the University of South Carolina where after many, many different majors I ended up majoring Theater and minoring in African-American studies. Graduation year is classified!

HC: Can you tell us about your role in TV One's Media? Has it changed how you view the entertainment industry, if so then how? 

JR: I play the steamy, cunning and clever Giselle Marks. My character works for the rival company that challenges Jump Media and the Jones Family.  I loved this character because I feel like she represents a side of women we don't often see. She works hard but is constantly overlooked and disregarded and she decides she's not going to take it anymore.  Working on this project has definitely been a fascinating experience. We often only see the entertainment side of media so it was great to explore the drama that exists on the corporate side of things. 

HC: What was it like working with Vanessa Williams in Ward of the State? 

JR: Vanessa is a consummate professional. She's incredibly genuine and talented. It was a pleasure playing her little sister as well as the daughter of the hilarious and fabulous Janet Hubert who played Aunt Viv from the Fresh Prince of BelAir.

HC: Can you tell us about your BET film Let’s Talk

JR: In Let's Talk I played Essence Williams a strong, confident woman who's ready for an intimate relationship with her gorgeous love interest, Greenleaf's Lamman Rucker.  The film takes us on her journey as she navigates the sensitive subject matter of couples HIV testing. The film offered a great example to people on how to advocate for themselves even when in difficult circumstances. 

HC: HIV/AVDS Awareness seems especially important to you, could you please tell us why you are so passionate about this cause and what we can do to get involved?

JR: When I look at the statistics for women, especially African-American women as well as our youth/young adult population it's difficult for me NOT to be passionate about this issue.  Currently, young people age 13 to 24 account for more than 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses. Yes, 13 to 24! As of 2013, 44% of young adults 18-24 did not know they were infected.  

Women make up about 1 in 4 of the people living with HIV in the US with African-American women being disproportionately affected.   An estimated 11% of women living with HIV do not even know they are infected.  

Considering these stats, I'd say the best way to begin your involvement is to get tested, know your status and encourage your friends and family to do the same! Support films and organizations that raise awareness to these issues & seek to bring about significant change and progress.  Additionally, don't be afraid to ask a potential intimate partner to get tested. It's your body, it’s your health and it's your life! In Let's Talk my character asks her boyfriend to get tested together.  He did not react well, but she held firm, he eventually agreed,  and it actually brought them closer together. We actually did a real HIV test during filming!  I make this a practice in my personal life as well.  It feels a little uncomfortable at first but people are usually really happy to find out their status and are just delaying out of fear. The good news is, women have made progress over the last decade decreasing new HIV diagnoses by 40%! Let's keep this trend going by continuing to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and safe sex practices!  As women we must be empowered to take care of ourselves and our health. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world. 

HC: What activities were you involved in during your time in college? How do you think those affected life post-college?

JR: In college I was a member of the African-American Association of Students and was super passionate fighting injustice. I was also completely engrossed in the local acting scene. I'd say that's still me in a nutshell.

HC: What inspired you to get into acting? Do you have any advice for students interested in working in the entertainment industry?

I took an acting class in college because I didn't do so great the first semester of my freshman year and I thought I would be an easy A. While in that class my acting professor and told me "I had something" and put me in my first play. I'd say that's when I caught the acting bug.  My advice for students interested in the entertainment industry is to understand that this is a business as well as an art. Work hard, take risks and be brave!

Make sure to follow Jillian on Instagram and Twitter!

*Photos Courtesy of Cory Barker and Marin Hamataj​