SHE got her start in the Australian TV industry answering Gary Sweet’s fan mail on Police Rescue while she put herself through university, but Jet Wilkinson has well and truly graduated — after being signed to helm Shonda Rimes’ hit US drama series, How To Get Away With Murder.
Wilkinson told TV Insider her stunning career break was “the kiss of luck” — landing the three season stint as co-executive producer and director of the TV murder mystery, starring Oscar winner, Viola Davis.
The UWS graduate scored a temporary role directing two episodes of Murder late last year, after being recommended for the freelance job by another director whose set of drama series, Nashville she was visiting for the first time.
“The director at that time was super friendly. I didn’t know him from Adam but he asked if I’d done Shondaland [Rimes’ production company also behind Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal]. I said, ‘no, but I’d love to …’ so he promised to put in a good word. The next thing my agent calls me and says, ‘Shondaland just booked you for an episode.’
After impressing during those trial runs, she was invited to interview for the new role and will be at the helm in Los Angeles when the production returns from hiatus in July (which will air here on Seven’s 7Flix).
In between, the in-demand Wilkinson is currently in New York directing a Marvel series, The Punisher for Netflix; at the same time as she’s editing a recent episode of Madam Secretary she directed; before she heads to the set of Nashville again for work on season five; before heading back to New York for season two of Netflix’ Jessica Jones.
Growing up in the western Sydney suburb of Dundas, it was her enthusiasm and determination which won Wilkinson her way into the local industry; working two-days a week for John Edwards and Sandra Levy.
A Home And Away fan, she phoned the production manager David Gould every week until he relented and gave her the job of production runner (ie office dog’s body, winning them over when she told them she’d be able to carry around boxes of scripts because of her experience lifting dog food in her other job at Woolworths).
“When I said that, [production co-ordinator] Sherree Black let out this tremendous laugh and she’s become one of my best friends since. I’ll never forget her my whole career because from there it has just blossomed.”
The chance to direct Davis, Wilkinson said, was “beyond my wildest dreams.”
“She comes across as intimidating, but she’s actually really fun and she’s got a beautiful smile. When she laughs, the whole world just opens right up.”