Jessica Marais

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Born

1/29/1985 , Johannesburg, South Africa

Birth Name

Nina Jessica Marais

Gender

Female

Biography:

Jessica Marais, most popular for her role as Rachel Rafter in the Aussie original drama series Packed to the Rafters, has always wanted to become an actress growing up. Originally born in South Africa, Jessica lived with her family in Canada and New Zealand before they settled in Perth, Australia when she was nine. Her parents' love for music, film, and theater ignited her interest in the arts. With a vivid imagination and a desire to perform, she would put on shows in their backyard and entertain guests at dinner parties even as a child. In primary school, she completed speech and drama courses and portrayed the character of Wendy in the Year 7 production of Peter Pan.

In Perth, Marais joined the Midnight Youth Theatre Company where she would appear in several plays. While attending St. Hilda's Anglican School for Girls, she was actively involved in its drama program and took on lead roles in various productions such as No, No Nanette, Ichneumon Fly, and The Insect Play. Aside from being a talented actress, Jessica was also a skilled singer and dancer, as she sang for a band in high school and took up ballet, hip-hop, and modern dance until she was 16. Initially, she majored in history at University of Western Australia, but eventually made her way to Sydney to try out for the world-renowned National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), where she became part of numerous theater productions. Among them was playing the title role in the 2007 Graduation Production of Sweet Charity, which earned her a GLUG Award for Young Performer of the Year.

During her third year at NIDA, Jessica auditioned for the pilot of the family comedy-drama Rafters. She won the role of Rachel, one of three children of Dave and Julie Rafter, in her final year of acting school. NIDA batchmate Hugh Sheridan, was also hired to play her brother Ben in the series. After graduating, Marais made her feature film debut in Two Fists One Heart, a drama based on the life of Rai Fazio. And in 2009, she guest-starred as the stunning leather-clad dominatrix Denna on the fantasy action-drama Legend of the Seeker, which featured Bridget Regan and fellow Aussie Craig Horner.