By *Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor
Jael de Pardo’s adventurous spirit and wide range of travel, have donned her the title of “real life Lara Croft” by her fans.
Jael played a researcher on the hit series Destination Truth on SYFY channel, where she conducted a series of investigations about myths and legends in places like King Tut’s tomb and the radiation fields of Chernobyl. They loved her so much she was soon after offered her roles in two subsequent shows Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files and Haunted Highway in which appears alongside Jack Osbourne.
Haunted Highway just completed production on its second season and is set to air this fall. Whether it means repelling down mine shafts in Chile or SCUBA diving with sharks in the Bermuda Triangle, Jael is game.
Raised in NYC, Jael arrived at the age of two from her native Colombia. At four years old she was already being repped by Ford Modeling Agency. Jael would later attended the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC where she majored in exhibit design and multi-media studies. For a time she was the assistant to the world-renowned fashion designer Patricia Field, before deciding to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
Jael has studied acting with some of the top coaches in the country including Susan Batson, Lesly Kahn and Janet Ashanti’s masters’ class. She soon began booking ad campaigns and commercials and was the face for numerous brands such as Dodge and American Airlines.
In 2006 she signed a three-year contract with Al Gore’s newly launched, youth lifestyle television network, Current TV. Jael’s diverse skill set – acting, writing, hosting –accelerated her rise to become one of the lead voices and faces of Current TV. This job would also allow her to expand her skill set to include producing, creating segments in Colombia, Panama and Mexico. Jael also returned to her hometown of NYC to produce a segment on her former employer Patricia Field after Patricia styled the HBO series Sex & the City.
AC: At what moment did you decide that you wanted to be a performer?
JD: I don’t think I’ve had an exact moment when I thought I wanted to be in the “public eye.” It’s more about loving the work, not being in the public eye. I was around the arts a lot as a kid; my parents took me to lots of Broadway shows, the ballet and off-Broadway shows. Also, having been in front of the camera and on stage a lot as a kid, it felt natural to me. I loved being on stage and I still love that feeling.
AC: Tell us about art school? You majored in multi-media?
JD: Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC is one of the top art schools in the country, and I thought Multi-Media studies would give me a chance to experiment with different forms of art and find my niche. I never formally thought of becoming a fashion designer, but have always had distinct ideas about image and aesthetic. I’ve always liked to be creative with my clothes; I experimented with that a lot during school and ended up working for fashion designer Patricia Field while studying. Her style is incredibly experimental! (Which you know if you watched Sex in the City) These days I’m in love Alexander McQueen and I also love looking at the Dolce & Gabbana ads in magazines. They’re beautiful–especially the Italian ones.
AC: What prompted you to make the move to LA?
JD: I’ve always thought that in order to know what you want in life, you need to try new and different things; push your boundaries. I loved NY but was looking for a change of scenery. After having done the courses at FIT, I still felt a call to acting and on-camera work, and at the time had befriended one of the actors from the soap All My Children. He recommended a great acting coach in LA; I went there for the first time to interview for her class. I got accepted and decided to move. Right before I moved, my step-dad gave me an envelope with $5000 to help me with my big transition. My parents were very supportive of my decision. That was the last gift my step-dad ever physically gave me; he passed away a few months later.
JD: The first years in LA I did a lot of print and commercial work. I didn’t have a car right away so I used to take the bus to the auditions. After booking several jobs I saved enough money to buy my first car. My first commercial was an ad for Levi’s that was directed by Chris Cunningham. Did being Latina help? Sure. I think that sometimes being a minority in a casting room filled with blondes can be a plus. Being bilingual also has given me an edge; I’ve used my Spanish on camera a lot while filming shows internationally.
AC: Tell us about working with current TV? You worked with Al Gore?
JD: Current TV was like going to grad school for television. Because it was a start-up network I was given license to try a lot of different things. I got over 1000 hours on camera there and also began producing. I believe it’s important to learn about all aspects of what’s happening on set because it can only be an asset to the performer and makes other peoples jobs easier. I also discovered my drive for philanthropy while at Current. Working with Al Gore raised my awareness of environmental issues and I decided to produce several short-form documentaries about them. I also had some fun with producing projects about the arts and fashion but I suppose, given my childhood that was a natural thing.
AC: Tell us about “Destination Truth?”
JD: While filming Destination Truth we went to the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, hiked the Great Wall of China, visited Buddhist monks in the Himalayas, saw the Nasca Lines in Peru and even visited local tribes at their homes in Africa. It was an amazing experience! When you’re on the road for work and the production company is hiring locals to help with things, you get to know more about the culture because you hang out with the people living there. To this day, shooting driving scenes over the sand dunes in Egypt while overlooking the pyramids is one of the best days I’ve ever had.
AC: Your work on “Fact or Faked?”
JD: My favorite part about shooting Fact or Faked was the office scenes. The dialogue was often a debate of scientific mysteries and I loved it! I learned so much; I’m a sucker for intellectual debate and conversation.
AC: What is the dream now?
JD: I keep myself open to all possibilities and opportunities—the dream now is to keep growing as an entertainer. I’ve been so fortunate to keep working consistently but I’m looking now to expand my repertoire to scripted work and use the acting skills I’ve worked so hard to attain!
Al Carlos Hernandez is the west coast editor USA of Herald De Paris online newspaper with estimated 11 million hits a day, contributing editor with Latinola.com of Los Angeles, consulting editor forwww.Soulradionline.com and a featured columnist for San Diego’s largest Latino Newspaper, La Prensa. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Patten University in Oakland and long-time resident of Pacifica, CA.
*Originally Published in the Herald de Paris with an edit by Susan Aceves