About a year ago, Tricia Connor Jackson was enjoying her retirement from a 22-year career in sales. Now, the Spokane resident is a model who’s worked for over 90 brands and an actress who, out of 4,600 candidates, is one of seven choices left to be cast for a major supporting role in a new HBO series.
Connor Jackson, 64, graduated from Mead High School in 1977. She then moved to Missouri for college and didn’t move back to Spokane until 2021.
“I retired at age 51 thinking I’m done, you know? I’m not going to work another day of my life,” she said in an interview.
But during a Palm Springs vacation last year, “as the old, weird story goes,” she was approached by a man who asked if she was famous. When she said no, he told her she should be.
“I thought, well, how does anybody start in that business?” Connor Jackson said.
The man told her about a $269 casting app where brands and casting directors can look for actors to shoot commercials, movies and shows. All she had to do was upload some photos of herself. Later, she downloaded the app, her only goal being to make that $269 back.
Four days later, she got a call from the casting director for a Rita Ora music video. He told her they needed her in L.A. Tuesday for filming.
That was her first time acting.
“The next thing you know, I’m just getting hired, and now I’m literally 100% full time doing this,” she said. “It changed my life.”
Connor Jackson said life as a content creator is “nothing like I ever thought.”
She spends her time filming auditions for movies and commercials for brands within the comfort of her own home, often taking trips to Los Angeles for filming.
“Here’s the camera,” she said, holding up her phone. “You just move it around your house all day long and shoot film.”
In her garage studio last week, Connor Jackson stood in front of a blue curtain and an array of standup lights purchased off Amazon as she filmed an audition for a role in a short film. As the script called for, she laughed as filming began, assuming the persona of woman plotting to take down a notorious crime lord.
In a 24-hour period last week, Connor Jackson filmed 58 videos on her phone. Next up was an audition for a short film and a commercial for the soy sauce brand Kikkoman.
With titles like “actress and billionaire,” “aspirational middle-aged woman” and “hot woman for bearded man commercial,” Connor Jackson gets offers four to fives times a day.
“In the beginning, it was maybe one every two weeks,” she said.
As her career progresses, she has noticed herself becoming more selective of which jobs she accepts.
“I’m not opposed to doing things that are somewhat controversial, but they have to align with something that I want my name attached to,” she said.
Usually Connor Jackson is cast as a mom, a business executive – or a mom who’s a business executive.
“I love to act; love it,” she said.
Connor Jackson encouraged anyone interested in building an income online to give the content creator industry a shot.
“I mean, you can do it. You have to be willing to learn and work hard,” she said. “Don’t let what you think is a limit be a limit.”
“We think that our life is Chapter 1, you’re a child; Chapter 2, you’re a young adult; Chapter 3, you’re a parent or you’re raising a family. In Chapter 4, you retire. Well, I just think that you can continue with another chapter if you want to,” she said.
Caroline Cicero, a professor at the University of Southern California with a Ph.D. in gerontology, said there are “thousands of people in the 50-plus category who are social media influencers.”
Still, she said there are barriers for older individuals looking to become content creators.
“The world is an ageist place,” Cicero said.
Cicero said this is especially true for people spreading a pro-aging, as opposed to an anti-aging, message.
“There are a lot of barriers to people who are trying to share a pro-aging message, mostly because of money. People buy products that are supposed to make us look or feel or think we are younger,” she said.
As for the acting industry, David Gittens, the executive director of the nonprofit Age Inclusion in Media, described ageism in Hollywood as the worst he’d ever seen it in 2022.
A study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that characters age 50 and older made up less than a quarter of all roles in top films and television shows from 2010 to 2020 in the United States.
Connor Jackson said this hasn’t been her experience. She believes her age has made her more successful.
“I think that this is an age where they need people acting, and if I was 27, I would not be successful,” she said. “I’m unusual, and that’s why I’m successful.”