Jaz Sinclair stepped barefoot and gracefully onto the rooftop terrace of The London West Hollywood and the environment made a sudden transformation. She appeared wearing an ethereal Alberta Ferretti slip dress with her honey and blonde curly tresses upswept and a waft of gentle breeze seemingly blew constantly. The blazing hot, mid-day sun seemed to disappear.
For this cover photo shoot, we selected one of the city’s few garden oases that provided panoramic views of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills for the 22-year-old starlet because she loves “outdoors.” So it was no surprise when she eased right into the shoot.
Sinclair plays a surrogate named Anna in the psychological thriller When the Bough Breaks. It’s Sinclair’s first major role. And it wasn’t easy being Anna. She’s impressive — and impulsive — showcasing traits of borderline personality disorder where she fluctuates back and forth between meek and maniacal.
“Her character carries this movie,” says Morris Chestnut, executive producer and the object of her affection. “Without her character and an actress who has the chops to play the role the way she did, the movie doesn’t work.” Chestnut plays John Taylor, an attorney who’s married to Laura (played by Regina Hall) and hires Anna to be their surrogate.
Sinclair played her role so skillfully theatergoers will be impressed by the fact that she was only 20 during filming.
Meet Jaz Sinclair.
How did you get the role as Anna?
It was a multi-step process. I went in for the audition and they had me do four scenes from the story so they could feel if I could play both: the innocent Anna and the intense Anna.
I went to a couple meetings, sent in an audition tape while I was filming Paper Towns, met the director and he told me later that during our meeting that he didn’t think I would get the role because he thought I was too sweet. Then we had a conversation about Anna and something in my eyes changed that kind of scared him and that’s when he knew I could do it.
Your character is complex. I tried my best to dislike you during the film, but I couldn’t.
That’s awesome. I am so glad. I wanted the audience to feel sympathy for her.
How did you know this part was perfect for you?
It’s strange. If I had looked at it on paper without putting it on its feet, I never would have thought “me” for this role. For so many reasons, I just would not have thought this would be my role. When I was auditioning, it just came through me. And something just clicked. I understood her. She made sense to me. And I cared about her. I read the script and the same thing happened. It was like the script was speaking to me and I just knew I was supposed to play this role.
What did you learn about yourself when you were filming?
I worked almost every day on set. I wanted to learn how to work hard, take care of myself and still be happy. It was more of a balancing act during filming. I learned timing and how to trust my own artistic instinct, and to take risks. That was super valuable and thanks in large part to Jon [Cassar], who directed it and gave me so much freedom to explore.
Where do Anna and Jaz intersect?
We are very different. I can feel the difference. When I was Anna, I didn’t feel like me. I didn’t see the world as me, things looked different and felt different. I moved different. We are the same in that we are complex people with wounds, delicacies and vulnerabilities … who just want love. Everybody wants love. I just wouldn’t act out they way she did.
What excites you?
I’m excited in general by traveling, seeing the world, meeting people, experiencing new people and their energies, places and food. I just love people.
You traveled to New Orleans to film. What did you like most about that city?
The music, the vibe of the city … there is a pulse. It was so refreshing. I love that it’s so rich with culture and the food is so good and also so rich.
What’s on your bucket list of places to travel to?
It’s a long bucket list. I want to go see the Aurora Borealis. There are like igloo hotels with a see-through roof where you can see the [Northern Lights].
I will be in Ireland for Labor Day. I have one place that I know that I want to go and I am going to feel it out, see what people I meet and the places I end up. And just open myself up to experience an amazing time.
How do you maintain your amazing physique?
I worked really hard during the film to look like I did. I like to do yoga, run, and go to the gym. I have always been pretty active.
Do you have a special diet?
I eat healthy because I like to but I try and stay away from the word diet in all its forms. I feel like rules are meant to be broken and the more rules you set for yourself, the more likely you are to break them. I think of the things that I can eat versus the things I can’t eat.
Dallas is your home? How often do you get to visit?
Yes. Once a year. I returned a couple months ago because my little sister graduated high school. That was so fun. It was great to see her walk across the stage.
Growing up in Dallas, what extracurricular activities did you engage in?
I was a gymnast for nine years as a kid. I was a cheerleader, so I could retain my tumbling skills. I did choir and my choir teacher made me do a musical. I had more fun being high school student number two in the second row doing a musical than I ever had in my life. I said to myself, “I have to do more of this.” I went full-blown theater nerd and did all the plays, went to every rehearsal even when I wasn’t acting because I was so into it. It was such a wonderful place for me to express myself and to experience what it’s like being other people.
Which musical was the most memorable?
I did Jekyll and Hyde. That was fun. It was during my junior year.
You were a gymnast. You love tumbling. Did you do any of your own stunts in this film?
The beginning half of all my stunts [laughs] … until they were like “Cut! Let’s bring the real badass in.” My stunt double is amazing. I like to do the stunts, so I try to do as much as I can without injuring myself. She was really, really great.
What’s the best party you’ve attended this year?
My birthday party … I hung around the fireplace with my friends — if that counts as a party.
What are your hobbies?
I sing. I am learning to play the keyboard. I am writing music. I have been journaling since I was 14 so I write poetry. I love to be outside, travel, run and cook. I am a yogi. I love to dance.
What’s your one recipe that has everyone like, “Jaz, hook me up”?
I make some really good coffee in the morning. I know that sounds crazy but like bulletproof coffee with cacao powder, honey and coconut oil. It’s really thick, creamy and delicious.
What do you do to pamper yourself?
Travel, go somewhere new, getting massages and pedicures, and going to the movies.
What’s the last book you read?
I am reading Psycho right now.
What made you pick up Psycho?
I’m watching “Bates Motel,” which is so good. Vera Farmiga is amazing. I’ve actually never seen Psycho and reading the book is a preface to seeing the movie. I am so into the show and I was at Barnes and Noble and saw Pyscho and decided to read it. It is so good.
I have a couple of projects coming out. I am really excited to see how this [opportunity impacts] my career. I have never had anything like this before. It is all really new. Strange. Exciting. Terrifying.
How was it working with a seasoned actor like Morris Chestnut?
It was great. He is great. He is such a gentleman and a kind person, and an amazing actor. He made me feel so safe and comfortable. There were some tense parts in the film and potentially uncomfortable scenes if you don’t trust your co-star. I felt so respected and inspired by him.
And then Regina [Hall] is such a talented actress. Watching her work and the variety and the layers that she brings for every scene, she was able to do so many versions and they were all so beautiful.
When the Bough Breaks hits theaters Sept. 9, 2016.
Interview by Yvette Caslin
Images by Dallas Logan
Hair: Larry Sims
Makeup: Carola Gonzalez
Stylist: Jessica Paster