Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Jessika Malone Named Associate Artistic Director for Actors Bridge Ensemble

2015 First Night Star Award winner Jessika Malone has been named associate artistic director of Actors Bridge Ensemble. Her new appointment was announced in late August by the company's producing artistic director - and 2016 First Night Honoree - Vali Forrister, the ABE Board of Directors and company members.

Malone, a native of Nashville, recently returned home after receiving her Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatrical Directing from the School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University where she directed for university and community audiences as well as inside the state's correctional facilities.

Most recently, Malone directed Edith Freni's This Is About You in Nashville Repertory Theatre's Ingram New Works Festival, co-produced the world premiere of Nate Eppler's The Ice Treatment at Actors Bridge, and curated the sixth annual Sideshow Fringe Festival, which she co-founded in 2011.

Malone began working with the Actors Bridge Ensemble in 2007, upon graduating from Belmont University. This season marks her 10th anniversary as an associate artist.

"I could not imagine a better a time to be recommitting to the city I love as it is exploding with tremendous growth and possibility," Malone says. "The energy of this moment is palpable, perhaps most so in our creative community where there's great promise of what possible futures lie ahead."

At Actors Bridge, what lies ahead is a 21st season brimming with the kind of forward-thinking theatre Malone and Forrister are known for delivering.

"Actors Bridge is committed to taking risks in all aspects of production: from the stories we tell to the emerging artists in whom we invest. One of the best decisions I ever made was the choice to invest in Jessika while she was still a student at Belmont. Even then, she had a bold vision and collaborative spirit that sparked greater creativity in everyone in the room," explains Forrister.

"The fact that she chose to return home to Actors Bridge when she could have had her pick of cities in which to work, is a beautiful testament to her loyalty and generosity to both Actors Bridge and Nashville."

Malone started as the company's business manager and has served on production and creative teams in nearly every capacity during her tenure with the organization, frequently producing for the company and directing at least one offering every season. As a director, she is known for embracing challenging, often provocative, contemporary work that forefronts the experiences of women and addresses issues of social justice.

In her new role as associate artistic director, Malone will assist Forrister with season selection and oversee a variety operations. This season, she will direct the regional premiere of Failure: A Love Story, continue to curate and produce the annual Sideshow, devise a new work based on Nashville's stories of hauntings funded by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission's Creation Grant, and teach in the company's actor training program. In addition to her work with Actors Bridge, Jessika will be directing the regional premiere of Will Eno's Gnit, a modern re-imagining of Ibsen's classic, Peer Gynt, for Vanderbilt University in early 2017.

"It really is a homecoming," says Malone, "familiar in all the best ways and yet, the beginning of something entirely new. I'm honored that Vali and the board are empowering me to take the next step in my professional journey at Actors Bridge because I do believe in Nashville and I believe in the artists who call it home."

Next up at Actors Bridge, Malone and Forrister produce the Nashville premiere of The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep by Diana Grisanti, directed by Leah Lowe, and opening tonight in the ABE Studio at Darkhorse Chapel at 4610 Charlotte Avenue. It runs through September 18.

Regional Awards


From This Author - Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 35 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner l... (read more about this author)


LeLand Gantt Brings RHAPSODY IN BLACK to TPAC This Weekend for Three PerformancesLeLand Gantt Brings RHAPSODY IN BLACK to TPAC This Weekend for Three Performances
September 23, 2022

As with most intelligent and clever actors struggling to find paying work during difficult times, LeLand Gantt readily admits that he was inspired to create Rhapsody in Black, which has been described as “a powerful personal narrative on racism, identity, and self-image” to provide some work for himself, allowing him to “stay in town to do more tv and film.” Now, however, as acclaim for his one-man show continues to grow, he’s finding himself “out of town” – he's based in New York – to give theater-goers all over the country a chance to see his the result of his creativity on his personal journey to transcene racism in America.

Review: Nashville Repertory Theatre's 38th Season Opens With RENT At TPAC'S Polk Theatre Through 9/25Review: Nashville Repertory Theatre's 38th Season Opens With RENT At TPAC'S Polk Theatre Through 9/25
September 21, 2022

Thanks to the rousing performances of director Micah-Shane Brewer’s talented company who have brought the show to vivid life for Nashville audiences, Rent provides a noteworthy opening to the company’s 38th season. Performed with commitment and sharp focus by a cast of young performers, this revival of Rent proves the show’s timelessness, the score’s resonance and the story’s relevance well into the 21st century.

Review: World Premiere of New DIARY OF ANNE FRANK Adaptation at Nashville Children's TheatreReview: World Premiere of New DIARY OF ANNE FRANK Adaptation at Nashville Children's Theatre
September 21, 2022

Wendy Kesselman’s new adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank – which is based upon the acclaimed 1955 play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and is an update of her 1997 script which has been widely produced since – is given a superb world premiere production by Nashville Children’s Theatre, which adds luster to the original work and makes it more accessible to contemporary audiences in director Ernie Nolan’s new iteration onstage through October 2.

Review: Roxy Regional Theatre's THE COLOR PURPLE is 'Emphatically, Beautifully, Electrifyingly Sung'Review: Roxy Regional Theatre's THE COLOR PURPLE is 'Emphatically, Beautifully, Electrifyingly Sung'
August 15, 2022

The production of The Color Purple, now onstage at the Roxy, is without doubt the most emphatically, beautifully and electrifyingly sung musical I’ve seen at the historic theatre on the corner of First and Franklin in downtown Clarksville over the past three decades. Directed with confidence by Broadway veteran/Belmont University alumnus/Austin Peay State University professor Deonte Warren, with the spirited choreography of Ebone Amos and one of the finest, most talented casts ever to grace the stage, The Color Purple clearly ranks as one of the best shows in the company’s 39-season history (number 40 gets under way next month).

Interview: Liz Callaway Promises 'A Great Evening' As She Reunites with Jason Graae in NashvilleInterview: Liz Callaway Promises 'A Great Evening' As She Reunites with Jason Graae in Nashville
August 14, 2022

It’s been a while since Liz Callaway last performed on a Nashville stage – it was a performance of “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra – and longer still since the time she auditioned for Opryland USA while still a high school student (she wasn’t cast, but more about that later…), so sharing the stage of Andrew Jackson Hall with her longtime pal and confidant Jason Graae on Saturday, August 20, is something she eagerly anticipates.