Jessica A. Caesar created and self-funded the comedy web-series ‘MEME QUEENS‘ presented on actress Elizabeth Banks’s co-founded digital platform ‘WhoHaha’, which provides a shining spotlight on funny women.
‘Meme Queens’ is a scripted comedy that follows two former beauty queens, who are now in their late 20s, broke and willing to do anything to become rich and internet famous. They participate in a low-budget internet reality show that captures their most UN-glamorous and meme-worthy antics which are made into the funniest internet memes.
How did you raise income for your self-funded a comedy web-series ‘MEME QUEENS’?
I took my earnings from my last few acting jobs and put it all into MEME QUEENS. I knew that I didn’t want to do a Kickstarter and trying to find investors to fund your first project can be a big obstacle. I’ve been wanting to create my own web series for years and I didn’t want anything else to hold me back. However, I didn’t have a big budget to work with. I was fortunate enough to have friends who were willing to work for me for less pay and some who were willing to work just for food lol.
What is the story behind you submitting your show on Elizabeth Banks’s digital platform WhoHaha?
I wanted my show to reach a wide audience. Elizabeth Banks co-founded WhoHaha almost a year and a half ago as a platform for female creators to distribute their content. I pitched MEME QUEENS to several different outlets and got turned down repeatedly. In a way, I’m kind of glad that happened because I then reached out to WhoHaha and THEY LOVED IT! Another reason why I’m happy that it’s on WhoHaha is that Elizabeth Banks said in an interview that “She was told growing up, ‘The world is your oyster and you can be whatever you want.’ The fact of the matter is, that is empirically untrue for most women.” I agree with her. One of the main reasons why I started developing my own content was to showcase myself as a comedic actress. A lot of times I am not given the opportunity to do comedy because people look at me and assume that pretty girls can’t be funny.
Who inspired the title and theme for your show ‘MEME QUEENS’?
You ever watch the Miss USA Pageant just for the cringe worthy moments during the question and answer portion? I do lol. There are a bunch of videos up on Youtube if you haven’t. It’s just pure comedy. The girls are beautiful and they are trying their hardest and they think they are answering the questions intellectually, but they’re not lol. I also wanted to do some kind of spoof of reality TV. I thought it was clever for the characters to do an internet reality show and be willing to do whatever it took to become rich and internet famous. I couldn’t come up with the perfect title for the longest time. I wanted to incorporate “beauty queens” “fame” and the “internet” in some way. Gilli suggested MEME QUEENS and it stuck. Then I came up with the idea to include one meme into each episode and that would also serve as the title for that episode.
Do you know Elizabeth Banks personally?
No, I wish lol. She is one of my inspirations though. She is an amazing actress, she is stunning, and also produces and directs. She does it all and I see myself doing the same in the future.
What roles did you play on the shows Atlanta, Vice Principals, Grey’s Anatomy and Grimm?
In Atlanta, I played one of the 3 girls Earn encounters in the club episode. I ended up dissing Donald Glover’s character which is pretty funny. I played a reporter on Grey’s Anatomy and a female lieutenant on Grimm. I can’t talk about my character in Vice Principals since Season 2 hasn’t premiered yet.
Why should the audience tune in to watch your webseries ‘MEME QUEENS’?
I promise you this web series will make your stomach hurt from laughing so much. The leads are female and it is also written by females and it shows that we can be funny just as much as males can. The entire cast is ethnically diverse as well. So was the crew.
Are you the only script writer for ‘MEME QUEENS’?
No. I wrote it alongside my dear friend Gilli Messer.
How did you come to partner with fellow actress/writer Gilli Messer?
Gilli and I met in an acting class years ago. We both didn’t have a scene partner one week, so we decided to work together. We did a comedy scene from this MTV pilot and had great chemistry. Shortly after that I asked her to be a part of a Funny or Die sketch I was doing. Then we started doing more sketches together and the rest is history.
How did you go about finding location and crew to shoot all 7 episodes of ‘MEME QUEENS’ in 3 days?
We actually shot everything pretty quickly. I ‘ve worked with the Director / DP Marco Infante numerous times and he moves very quickly, which I love. The apartment scenes were shot at Marco’s condo. I had worked with Ken Mader (location manager) on previous projects so all the office scenes were shot at a location he uses frequently for filming. Erik Griggs, who plays Jay Fizzy, is also a Grammy nominated and award winning songwriter and music producer. We’ve been friends for almost a decade and he let me use his recording studio. Gilli’s Mom in real life also plays her mom in the show and we were able to film at her parent’s house.
Now that you have your own show, have you given up on being a part of other networks projects and will continue to produce and star in your own series?
I was never the type to wait for the phone to ring lol. It has always been my dream to star in a sitcom or single camera comedy. As an actor there can be periods of unemployment. That’s why I am always doing both – trying to land my next network project and continuing to produce and create my own content.
You can watch the remaining 6 full episodes of ‘MEME QUEENS’ here.