Gillian Jacobs

With a commitment to “Community” service Thursday nights on NBC, this Mount Lebanon native demonstrates her passionate path to prime-time TV.



Photos courtesy of NBC

“The very first play I did was in the third grade,” recalls Gillian Jacobs, who plays Britta, a 28-year-old community college student on NBC’s new sitcom “Community.” “My mom signed me up for my first acting course when I was 8. I took classes at the Pittsburgh Playhouse every Saturday.” Jacobs’ first play was Steadfast Tin Soldier. “I had to make my entrance from a janitor’s closet,” recalls the Mount Lebanon native.

Making an entrance was something Jacobs wanted to do in acting from an early age. However, as she explains, she wasn’t raised in a home full of actors and dramatic types. She was an only child whose father, Bill, who is an investment banker, and whose mother, Martina, works for Carnegie Mellon University in alumni relations. She credits Martina for her career path: “My mom wanted me to channel my dramatic tendencies, and that’s when acting became my passion.”

Jacobs graduated from Mount Lebanon High School in 2000 and was off to New York City to attend The Julliard School for drama. “At Julliard every class I took was related to acting. I had the exact same classes at the exact same time every week,” says Jacobs.

And how does playing the role of a community-college student every week on television compare with studying acting at Julliard? “At Julliard we were stuck in a room with the same 15 students, 14 hours a day for four years, and we became like family. That’s close to the feeling I have on the set of our show now. We have long—but good—days from reading the script for each episode to a table read to putting it on film.”

Jacobs graduated from Julliard in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree. She went on to do theater, and in 2006 she starred in the Off-Broadway play cagelove. A theater review about cagelove written by Jason Zinoman, of The New York Times, had this to say about Jacobs’ performance in the role of Katie in that play: “First, make sure to remember the name of Gillian Jacobs, a stunning Juilliard graduate who has the glow of a star in the making.”

Since then, this “star in the making” has made guest appearances on “The Good Wife” on CBS, “Royal Pains” on the USA Network and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” on NBC. She’s also landed a recurring role as Adele on NBC’s “Book of Daniel.” Moviegoers would have seen Jacobs this past fall on the silver screen in The Box, in which she played Dana—Cameron Diaz and James Marsden’s possessed babysitter.

Now she’s gone from creepy babysitter to hot babe for her role as Britta on “Community,” and she moved to Los Angeles from New York last year to star in the show. The plot revolves around a character named Jeff, played by Joel McHale, of E Network’s “Talk Soup.” Jeff is a lawyer who has had his degree revoked because he fibbed on his résumé. Forced to go back to school, he lands at Greendale Community College and discovers a bright spot as part of the humbling experience: the beautiful Britta, a fellow student. Deciding to pursue her, he gathers a study group together in hopes of getting closer to Britta.

“You could say we’re a laughable group of misfits led by McHale,” Jacobs says of the ensemble cast, which includes Chevy Chase.

Although getting closer to Britta might be a challenge for Jeff, getting closer to Jacobs is easier for viewers. She has the glow that Zinoman describes in his 2006 review. Too bad she doesn’t think about that. “I try not to pay attention to reviews; as long as I’m happy, that’s what matters most.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Q+A

PM: What are your favorite  TV shows—past and present—that make you happy?
G.J.: I love “30 Rock” and “Parks and Recreation,” old “Saturday Night Live” episodes and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
 
PM: Who’s your inspiration?
G.J.: I’m inspired by Anna Farris, Tina Fey and Lisa Kudrow. They have great comedic timing.
 
PM:Community” has a varied cast of people getting along from different backgrounds. Do you think these are roots for a long-lasting comedy?
G.J.: When you have diverse people, it provides such fertile ground for comedy and a range of funny topics.

PM: How often do you make it back to your hometown community?
G.J.: At least once a year to visit my family.
 
PM:  Favorite places to visit when you’re in Pittsburgh?
G.J.: The Mattress Factory is my favorite museum. And Eons on Ellsworth is a great place. I love vintage clothing.  

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Pittsburgh Comic Shop Owners Prepare For Free Comic Book Day

Pittsburgh Comic Shop Owners Prepare For Free Comic Book Day

For comic book fans, it's the equivalent of black Friday, only much more fun.
Ross Photographer's Out of This World Picture To Be On Postage Stamp

Ross Photographer's Out of This World Picture To Be On Postage Stamp

The stunning photo of a star trail around Mt. Rainier took two hours to shoot.
Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Is PUC Going Overboard With Its Punishment of Uber

Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald say the PUC went too far when it fined the ride-sharing company $11.3 million.
The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

The Story Behind This Epic Picture of Lightning Over Pittsburgh

Most people crawl deeper under the covers during a nighttime thunderstorm, photographer Dave DiCello does just the opposite.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
The Eaglets Have Landed

The Eaglets Have Landed

The bald eagles nesting in Hays once again have given birth to a new generation. We take you into the nest to see how quickly the two chicks are growing.
Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Severino's follow-up to Cure is already winning national accolades.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Pittsburgh Comic Shop Owners Prepare For Free Comic Book Day

Pittsburgh Comic Shop Owners Prepare For Free Comic Book Day

For comic book fans, it's the equivalent of black Friday, only much more fun.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Time to Get Your Garden Growing

Time to Get Your Garden Growing

The May Market at Phipps Conservatory in Oakland is the largest seedling sale of the season.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Lawrenceville's New, Different Nighttime (and Morning) Destination

Lawrenceville's New, Different Nighttime (and Morning) Destination

The Abbey on Butler — part coffeehouse, part restaurant, part bar — could prove to be a major Lawrenceville destination.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates Still Searching For Response to Arrieta-Caliber Dominance

Pirates Still Searching For Response to Arrieta-Caliber Dominance

The Bucs’ wild-card failures the last two seasons have cast a shadow of doubt if not impending doom over a season that otherwise ought to be ripe with promise.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Welcome Warm Weather with This Bright Summer Shift Dress

Welcome Warm Weather with This Bright Summer Shift Dress

Local fashion line Kelly Lane has the perfect dress to kick off your summer style.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Captain America: Civil War is the Best Marvel Flick Yet

Captain America: Civil War is the Best Marvel Flick Yet

The superhero throwdown caps a hot streak for the comic studio. Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Finding Sunshine on a Rainy Wedding Day in Pittsburgh

Finding Sunshine on a Rainy Wedding Day in Pittsburgh

You don’t always need blue skies and sunshine to have a beautiful and memorable wedding. One couple shares their advice on making the most of a rainy wedding day and what to do when the forecast is less than ideal.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
A Far From Ordinary House Tour in Wilkinsburg This Weekend

A Far From Ordinary House Tour in Wilkinsburg This Weekend

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation hosts a one-of-a-kind house tour on May 7.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A Week of Education for Adults & Children Alike

A Week of Education for Adults & Children Alike

Remake Learning Days, a program offering new and future-forward educational experiences, is set for various spots throughout the area.

Comments