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Teen describes her role in documentary, life in Sanibel

October 1, 2014
by CRAIG GARRETT ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Despite her best efforts to remain in the background, Jessica Andrews has emerged in full public view.

The Sanibel teen is featured in "Edge of Eighteen," a documentary airing Sundays on the cable broadcast channel Al Jazeera America.

Although she plans for a career in aeronautic engineering and had avoided the performance crowd at Cypress Lake High School, Jessica Andrews is starring in the documentary that places American teens behind a camera. The series is to offer a portrait of life. Andrews and other teens involved filmed themselves through this year's high school graduation. Six episodes run Sundays on Al Jazeera America. The one-hour shows are also available online.

Article Photos

Sanibel's Jessica Andrews

Andrews and others filming their lives underwent film training in New York City, were given a camera, tripod and microphone, and turned loose through graduation in May. Al Jazeera America producers coached some of the filming and interviewing techniques, but she was mostly left alone to film, to develop ideas and choose who to involve, she said, which included her grandparents in Sanibel.

"I was able to express emotion that I hadn't in a long time," Andrews said in a phone conversation from her dorm at the University of Mississippi, where she has started her freshman year in Oxford with 19 credit hours. "It was definitely an experience."

Mostly shy and "awkward," Andrews said friends convinced her to apply for a role with the program as a senior at Cypress Lake. Producers contacted her, interviewed her via Skpe, and last January invited her to New York City for the training with film directors Alex Gibney, Alexandra Pelosi and Sam Pollard.

Ultimately, Andrews returned to Sanibel where she had lived with grandparents. Part of the narrative of her film is dealing with a divorce of her parents that deeply affected her, Andrews said. The film introduces the issue, but also touches on her life in school, with her friends, a segment on beach fishing for sharks in Sanibel. She spent up to 10 hours a week through last May filming. Time was an issue, she said, as a worker at the Sanibel Dairy Queen and a softball player and golfer at Cypress Lake High.

So, what's it like being recognized as television personality, she was asked.

"I don't know about being famous," she said, "but it is kind of cool (they're) watching. And I think it made it easier to talk about adult relationships. I'm happy to be part of it."



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