Known as a successful actor, model, and pet accessory designer, Jeanne Chinn wasn’t always fortunate enough to make a living doing what she loved.
Jeanne had a vision while working as a bank teller, selling sneakers in the mall, pushing clothes at Petite Sophisticate, working private parties at Trader Vic’s, and making sub sandwiches at midnight in the lobby of her dorm. Her mission: to build a nest egg for the launch of her acting career in Los Angeles.
Jeanne quit all five jobs and a straight A college career, to open, “Jeanne’s Quality Craft Service. ” Jeanne worked 48 hr. days, preparing delicacies for TV commercial crews. She quietly interviewed working actors as they grazed at her table. Nest egg: check, research: check. Jeanne packed her catering van, and hopped on the 5 freeway to embark on her acting career in Hollywood.
Jeanne Chinn’s picture and sparse resume, (accompanied by a glowing evaluation from her teacher at the prestigious American Conservatory Theatre) caught the eye of an agent who found the submission “charming” and signed Jeanne on the spot.
Back in SF the production company that always hired Jeanne for craft service begged her to accept one last gig back in the Marina District. The moment her van pulled up in San Francisco, Jeanne’s agent called with her first “callback” for a commercial. Without hesitation, she drove back to L.A. for the producer’s session. After a five minute audition Jeanne’s van was burning rubber back to San Francisco.
Back in the Marina, she received a third callback for the commercial that was seeking women like the ones in Joy Luck Club. Jeanne scheduled a flight back to L.A.. In a waiting room filled with the actual cast of the Joy Luck Club, and working actors like Lucy Liu, Jeanne felt like a fool for wasting her money and risking her job in S.F.
On her way back to LAX Jeanne burst into tears, unaware that she had just booked her first acting job. Her leap of faith earned her a two spot, national commercial that ran for two years. On top of being paid to act, Jeanne received her Screen Actors Guild card and health insurance to boot.
A thousand “Jeanne’s Quality Craft Service” cards were tossed into the trash. Jeanne’s mantra, “No more manual labor!” led her to audition for the auto show circuit. As a Pontiac girl, she repeated the hypnotic phrase, “Come closer, take a good look!” Jeanne stood on revolving turntables across the U.S. extolling the virtues of various concept cars. Like shu mai on a lazy susan, Jeanne was seen as an exotic little dish to Midwesterners who quipped, “Don’t you get dizzy?” Dizzy indeed, Jeanne gave up all of that fame and glory to attempt making a living as a full time actor.
Her first callback for a movie, “Shopping For Fangs,” had Jeanne sobbing on a friend’s sofa over her “horrible performance”. A rotten judge of her own work, Jeanne booked the female lead in Fangs directed by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) and Quentin Lee. She gained both recognition and critical praise for her breakout performance as Katherine opposite John Cho.
Next, Jeanne worked a glorious month playing a stowaway rescued by Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4. From victim to action heroine, Jeanne fired her first uzi and brought men to their knees in Paramount’s two hour futuristic action drama,“Code Name Phoenix.” As Phoenix, Jeanne fought to save the world as a martial arts expert for the elite Hong Kong Special Forces. Jeanne refused to have a double for her martial arts fighting in the movie. Ironically, she ended up in a pool of her own (real) blood for a scene that required no combat.
Her talent and versatility have landed her guest roles on TV series like, “Weeds,” “Without A Trace,” “According To Jim,” “Girlfriends,” “NYPD Blue,” “ER,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Charmed,” “Dharma & Greg,” “Invisible Man,” and, “Tracey Takes On.”
One of the few female experts in Jeet Kune Do, (the martial art form created by the late Bruce Lee) Jeanne graced the cover of Inside Kung Fu Magazine’s very popular Dec. 2004 issue. Her cover turned out to be the highest grossing issue in 6 years. Jeanne was also featured on the cover of Bruce Lee Magazine in 2002. She was discovered by the martial arts world when Jeet Kune Do Magazine named her, “Newcomer of the Year, 2001″ in their prestigious hall of fame. She trained intensively with one of Lee’s original top students, the late Jerry Poteet.
A life long animal lover, Jeanne channeled her creativity and love for dogs into a line of high end pet carrying bags. JCLA (Jeanne Chinn Los Angeles) was born November of 2010. Those who collect JCLA handbags enjoy shopping for other accessories and pet themed gifts in her online pet boutique.