Sunderland student Jesse Pye hasn’t even completed her degree yet, but she’s already added a job as content logger for MTV’s hit reality show Geordie Shore to her CV.
Jesse, who is in her third year studying Screen Performance at the University of Sunderland, transcribed and logged hours of footage from the new series, either live or during the edit, to create a concise document for the editor or production staff to quickly pick out key parts from the filming.
Geordie Shore: Hot Single Summer returned to our screens earlier this month.
Jesse admits balancing long days working on the show with a part-time job at the Empire Theatre in Sunderland and the final year of her studies has been a challenge, but worth it.
“Geordie Shore has been a dream,” she said.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming crew. Giving me a chance in a professional shoot and being willing to take the time to show me the ropes, trusting me with jobs imperative to the shoot, looking after the cast and then logging the cast for the edit has given me all the entry level skills I need to start working in the industry properly and I haven’t been short of work since.
“Off the back of Geordie Shore, I’ve worked for ITV, on Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me, a Channel 4 blue light documentary, a Channel 5 DIY programme and I’ve even had to turn some work down, which is incredible.”
Rebecca Leigh, production coordinator at Lime Pictures, the company behind Geordie Shore, said: “Jesse has been a vital part of the production team for Geordie Shore this series and a pleasure to work with virtually and in Newcastle.
“She is friendly, hardworking, organised and great with talent. We’ve loved having her on the team and can always rely on her to get a job done well and to a really high standard. She has a very bright future ahead of her in television and I hope to work with her again soon on some television projects together.”
The road to success hasn’t been an easy one for Jesse.
The 28-year-old manages her workload while dealing with health conditions – ulcerative colitis and fibromyalgia – which cause her chronic pain and extreme fatigue.
“It gets in the way of my day-to-day life,” Jesse, from Sunderland, explained.
“You don’t know when it will hit you. One minute I can be feeling great with no issues and then the next morning I’m taking strong painkillers and sleeping through the day.
“I’d networked quite a bit and managed to get an agent, but I was terrified having a chronic illness would put me on some sort of “hard work list”.”
But earlier this year, Jesse received a much-needed confidence boost from Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston, who gave an online talk to students at Sunderland.
Cherylee, who plays Izzy in the ITV soap, began using a wheelchair at the age of 23 when she was diagnosed with the chronic condition Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
For Cherylee, it means her joints are unstable and she has tissue damage in her muscles and tendons, which results in sprains, dislocations and constant pain.
Jesse said: “Cherylee is essentially doing the work I most feared, a long-running soap.
“A short shoot I could power through but working every week for years would be more challenging. But Cherylee said the industry is making changes and people would want to work with me for my work ethic and not be put off by sick days, chronic pain, brain fog and tiredness.
“She also gave me ideas on how to still use my bad days to be productive, learn scripts, work on my characters and be the best I could be to my limits.
“Being able to relate to Cherylee on a level I haven’t found with other actors yet was really inspiring. She is doing what I want to do and she’s doing it while suffering in a similar way to me.
“Cherylee’s condition hasn’t hindered her and that positivity and drive she has just kick-started that feeling in me that I can do it too and that people can understand, and I shouldn’t be prevented from acting just because of my health conditions.”
So, what does the future hold for Jesse?
“I’ve always wanted to be an actor and I don’t think I’ll ever stop pursuing that,” she said.
“All my passion is in creative arts so starting entry level set work has made me realise if I’m not in front of the camera I definitely want to be behind it. My aim in production would be to go into welfare producing and I’ve already reached out to contacts I’ve made at Geordie Shore who have given me advice and guidance on how to do this.”
Gary Stubbs is Senior Lecturer in Media Production and Programme Leader for MA Media Production (Film & Television) at the University of Sunderland, recently shortlisted as University of the Year, in this year’s THE – Times Higher Education – annual awards,
He said: “I know Cherylee Houston was a great inspiration to Jesse for a number of reasons and Jesse’s positive attitude and willingness to help was clear during our classes.
“The pandemic restricted class sizes and students worked in split groups over two weeks. Jessie offered to work both weeks to help her fellow students create a successful production, so it’s really great to see that her positive attitude to work has been recognised and rewarded in the TV industry.
“One of Jesse’s goals was to spend some time building industry credits and experience, so Geordie Shore has been a great opportunity for her.”