Harborough teenage actor and film maker wins county award

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Market Harborough’s teenage actor and film maker Jess O’Brien has won a Young Person of the Year Award.

Jess (14), a pupil at Robert Smyth Academy in the town, won the top prize at the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire’s Awards ceremony for “inspirational teens” at County Hall last week.

Jess won Young Artist of the Year, and then the overall county award.

Jess said she was “surprised and happy”.

Her nominator, Leicester-based film maker Keith Allott, said: “Jess is a director, writer, producer and actor and a very exciting talent.

“Pursuing her dream career in the film industry, Jess has starred in an award-winning short film, organised an independent film premier and had her film featured at international film festivals.”

Lady Gretton, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, said: “All too often the achievements of young people go unnoticed by the wider community and they are often portrayed in a negative light.

“I am pleased that my awards help to showcase the good work that young people are doing across our city and county.”

The 15 finalists were nominated by friends, family and professionals for their hard work, talent and commitment.

Jess starred in a short film shown at the world-famous Cannes Film Festival when she was just 13.

Aged 14 she was named as one of Into Film’s three “Ones to Watch in 2016” for excellence in film production for her own film ‘Coping’, which she wrote, directed and acted in.

As part of the prize, Jess attended a special careers session at BAFTA.

She has now just completed her second film ‘Hinterland’, set in an abandoned prison.

She attends the Pauline Quirke Academy in Leicester and Parsnips Youth Theatre in Market Harborough.

“I definitely want to go into film,” Jess told the Mail. “It could be as an actor, editor, director - I love all aspects of film. As a kid I was extremely shy, but being on stage was just empowering for me.”

“If she continues working hard, the sky’s the limit for Jess” said Keith Allott.