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Gillian Jacobs: Theater-Trained Star of 'Community' and 'Love'
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Gillian MacLaren Jacobs, born on October 19, 1982, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an American actress best known for her roles in the NBC sitcom "Community" and the Netflix series "Love." With a background in theater and a degree from Juilliard, Jacobs has established herself as a versatile performer across television, film, and stage.

 

Jacobs' Early Life and Education

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Gillian Jacobs was born on October 19, 1982 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Martina Magenau Jacobs, a Carnegie Mellon University administrator, and William F. Jacobs Jr., an investment banker. Jacobs grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon and began studying acting at the age of eight, taking classes at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. She performed with the Pittsburgh Public Theater and was a perennial contender in their Shakespeare Monologue Contest, which led to her being cast as Titania in their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. After graduating from Mt. Lebanon High School in 2000, Jacobs moved to New York City to attend The Juilliard School, where she was a member of the Drama Division's Group 33 and earned a bachelor's degree in 2004. Jacobs made her acting debut in theater productions before transitioning to film and television roles in the mid-2000s.
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Juilliard Training and Early Theater Work

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Gillian Jacobs' experience at The Juilliard School was challenging and transformative. Despite being accepted into the prestigious program, Jacobs struggled with the rigorous training and expectations. She faced criticism for her physical habits, movement work, and perceived lack of initiative. The pressure culminated in her being placed on probation during her sophomore year, a devastating blow that left her feeling like a "bad actor". Jacobs has since reflected that Juilliard "f-ed me up" and discouraged her from doing things she enjoyed in acting. Despite these difficulties, Jacobs did participate in theatrical productions at Juilliard, including playing Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" during her third year. However, the experience left a lasting impact, leading her to do less theater than many of her fellow Juilliard graduates in her subsequent career.
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Gillian Jacobs' Breakout Role in 'Community'

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Gillian Jacobs' breakout role came as Britta Perry in the NBC sitcom "Community" (2009-2015), which became a cult hit despite struggling with ratings during its run. As part of the ensemble cast, Jacobs portrayed Britta, a complex and often self-righteous character who aspired to become a psychologist. The show's constant threat of cancellation created a stressful environment for the cast, with Jacobs noting, "Oftentimes we're finding out news about our shows online with everyone else". Despite the uncertainty, "Community" ran for six seasons and launched Jacobs into wider recognition, establishing her talent for playing flawed, multifaceted characters.
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Transition to Netflix with Love

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After her success on "Community," Gillian Jacobs transitioned to streaming platforms with a starring role in the Netflix series "Love." Created by Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, and Lesley Arfin, the show follows the complex relationship between Jacobs' character Mickey and Rust's Gus, two mismatched individuals navigating love in Los Angeles. The series, which ran for three seasons from 2016 to 2018, allowed Jacobs to further showcase her acting range in a more dramatic role. Despite the show's conclusion, Jacobs has expressed enthusiasm for potentially revisiting the character, stating she would "jump at the chance to continue the series." The show received praise for its realistic portrayal of relationships and its use of underappreciated actors and comedians, with many fans considering it a favorite and expressing interest in potential spin-offs.
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Versatile American Actress (Photos)

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Jacobs' Awards and Accolades

Gillian Jacobs has received several awards and nominations throughout her career, particularly for her work on the television series "Community." Here is a summary of some of her notable accolades:
AwardCategoryResultYear
Critics' Choice Television AwardsBest Supporting Actress in a Comedy SeriesNominated2012
TV Guide AwardFavorite Ensemble (with Community cast)Won2012
Gold Derby TV AwardEnsemble of the Year (with Community cast)Won2012
EWwy AwardsBest Supporting Actress in a ComedyNominated2012
Phoenix Film FestivalSpecial Jury Award for Acting Achievement (for "Nonames")Won2010
Method FestBest Actress Feature Film (for "Nonames")Nominated2010
Jacobs' performances have been recognized by both critics and audiences, particularly for her role as Britta Perry in "Community." Her work in independent films has also garnered attention, as evidenced by her award at the Phoenix Film Festival.
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Jacobs' Film and TV Roles

Gillian Jacobs has built an impressive filmography spanning film, television, and voice acting roles. Here is a selection of her notable works across different mediums:
MediumTitleRoleYear
FilmChokeCherry Daiquiri2008
FilmLife PartnersPaige2014
FilmDon't Think TwiceSamantha2016
FilmLife of the PartyHelen2018
TVCommunityBritta Perry2009-2015
TVGirlsMimi-Rose Howard2015
TVLoveMickey Dobbs2016-2018
TVInvincibleAtom Eve (voice)2021-present
TVThe BearTiffany Jerimovich2023
Jacobs' versatility is evident in her range of roles, from comedic performances in "Community" and "Life of the Party" to more dramatic turns in "Girls" and "Love". Her voice acting work in "Invincible" showcases her ability to bring characters to life across different mediums.
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Multifaceted Hollywood Talent (Interviews)

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From Actress to Director: Gillian Jacobs' Documentary on Grace Hopper

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In addition to her acting career, Gillian Jacobs has ventured into directing documentaries. In 2015, she made her directorial debut with the short film "The Queen of Code" about Grace Hopper, a pioneering computer scientist and U.S. Navy rear admiral who was instrumental in the development of early computing. The documentary premiered on FiveThirtyEight's website as part of the Signals docuseries. Jacobs has expressed surprise at this "weird side career directing documentaries," noting that her "Community" co-stars Ken Jeong and Danny Pudi have also directed documentaries. In 2020, Jacobs directed an episode titled "Higher, Further, Faster" for "Marvel's 616," a documentary series exploring the cultural impact of Marvel Comics. Through these projects, Jacobs has expanded her creative repertoire behind the camera, bringing compelling real-life stories to the screen.
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Gillian Jacobs' Sober Lifestyle and Relationship

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Gillian Jacobs made the personal decision at a young age to abstain from alcohol and recreational drugs. This choice was influenced by her father's struggles with addiction, which motivated her to avoid those substances altogether. Jacobs has been open about this aspect of her life, stating that she has never consumed an alcoholic beverage. Despite the prevalence of alcohol and drugs in the entertainment industry, Jacobs has remained committed to her sobriety. In her personal life, Jacobs is currently in a relationship with television writer and producer Christopher Storer. Storer is best known as the creator of the critically acclaimed series "The Bear," which premiered on FX in 2022. Jacobs has a recurring role in the show's second season, playing the character of Tiffany Jerimovich. The couple has kept their relationship relatively private, focusing on their respective careers in the entertainment industry.
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Closing Thoughts on Gillian Jacobs

Gillian Jacobs exemplifies the dynamic range and resilience of American film actresses. Her career, marked by standout roles in both comedy and drama, showcases her versatility and dedication to her craft. Jacobs' foray into horror with films like "Larry" and her work in critically acclaimed series such as "Community" and "Love" highlight her ability to navigate diverse genres and complex characters. Her transition into directing, with projects like "The Queen of Code," further underscores her multifaceted talent and creative ambition. Jacobs' journey reflects the broader narrative of American actresses who leverage their skills across various mediums, contributing richly to the tapestry of contemporary cinema and television.
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