Jessica Blank Biography
Jessica Blank is a writer, director, actor, and story consultant who trains leaders, candidates, and organizations to harness the power of story. She has a deep background in theater, film, and television as both creator and performer, and her work at the intersection of the arts and social change for nearly two decades has served as a laboratory to study how story can connect, inspire, and motivate prosocial action.
Drawing on insights from neuroscience, psychology, and the arts, as well as extensive experience as a teacher and coach, Jessica empowers her clients to understand story's unique effects on the brain as well as its underlying elements and structure, and to put these tools to use in service of transformational communication and increased impact.
Jessica works as a consultant on story strategy for progressive candidates, nonprofit organizations, and foundations; leads organizational trainings in story literacy, and trains and coaches leaders and changemakers to use the power of story to radically uplevel their impact. As a coach, Jessica also works with TV showrunners, Sundance-supported filmmakers, Off-Broadway playwrights, published novelists, Broadway actors, and TV series regulars.
Jessica is a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Drama Department at the Juilliard School, and serves as a founding mentor for the Writers Guild Initiative’s Veterans’ Writing Project and a mentor for the Firelight Documentary Lab. She has taught writing and speaking to veterans, wounded veterans’ caregivers, formerly incarcerated individuals, death row exonerees, and at numerous colleges and universities (including Brown, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Indiana University and several more), and is a frequent panelist and speaker on story and social change.
As an artist, she created the multi-award-winning play THE EXONERATED (with Erik Jensen) (Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Ovation, Fringe First, Herald Angel awards; awards from Amnesty International, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Death Penalty Focus) as well as its award-winning film adaptation starring Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover. They also wrote the plays AFTERMATH, based on interviews they conducted with Iraqi refugees in Jordan in 2008 (NYTW; also directed; 2 Drama League noms; int’l tour), HOW TO BE A ROCK CRITIC, based on the writing of the rock critic Lester Bangs (also directed; Kirk Douglas, Steppenwolf, Public Theater) and a forthcoming major commission for the Public Theater with music by Grammy-winning songwriter Steve Earle. She directs theater regularly Off-Broadway and is also active as a writer, director, and actor for film and TV: her first feature film, ALMOST HOME (adapted and directed with Erik Jensen), premiered in fall of 2018, and their second feature, HOW TO BE A ROCK CRITIC, is in development with Likely Story. She has developed for television with Fox TV Studios, Gaumont, 20th Century TV, Avenue Pictures, Sunswept Entertainment, Virgin Produced, and Radical Media, and appeared as an actor in over two dozen films and TV shows.
Jessica is passionate about story's ability to transform and trigger empathic connection and deeper understanding, and is dedicated to putting story tools in the hands of leaders, change makers, and individuals working for social good.