The Ledge, a film shot in Baton Rouge, opens Friday, July 8

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Like a lot of New Orleans transplants, actress Jaqueline Fleming came to the city with no intention of staying longer than a few days. Before she'd exhausted the contents of her overnight bag, she fell for New Orleans and decided to remain here permanently. The move has been a boon to her acting career. Recently, Fleming booked a role in The Ledge, an independent feature drama shot in Baton Rouge that appeared at the Sundance Film Festival and opens Friday, July 8 in New York and Los Angeles. She also plays Harriet Tubman in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Jaqueline Fleming appears in The Ledge, which was shot in Baton Rouge and opens to a limited run July 8.
  • Jaqueline Fleming appears in The Ledge, which was shot in Baton Rouge and opens to a limited run July 8.

You're from Los Angeles. What made you decide to move from that market to Louisiana?
Three and a half years ago, I fell in love with the city and discovered I could have purpose helping to rebuild and also growing as an actress, because it seemed like a tremendously growing market. I booked The Ledge here - the director told me the role was not supposed to go to a Louisiana actress, but I stole it. With training in this market, we have the ability to capture those kinds of roles. I think producers are starting to recognize the talent that is here.

What is The Ledge about?
It's about love, choices and betrayal, and it stars Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson. Each character is making these choices to talk this (suicidal) character off a ledge. I play the wife of Terrence Howard.

How does it improve your craft when you work alongside such talented actors?
You have to be ready for Terrence, because he is going to bring it. The audition process was grueling because I had to dig so deep for that role. But working with the director and Terrence was phenomenal. To work opposite actors like him and Morgan Freeman (in Red) is something I'll carry forever. I found them to be so humble in spite of all their credits and accomplishments. Morgan Freeman gave me the same performance he would have given Halle Berry, even when the camera was on me for my close-ups. You learn from their humility.

You started an acting studio, which you later sold, as well as a talent agency. What do you hope to teach local actors?
I would like my students to learn respect and discipline for the craft. A lot of people come in and have been extras, and they have no understanding of the craft. It isn't until they see how long the journey has been for some of us that they sit back and say, 'OK, I'm ready to learn.' And I tell all my students, 'If you don't share it, if you don't mentor, you can't keep what you don't give away.' We all have to be team players. We go out and audition and rehearse together, and it feels like a good team energy.

Sounds like a lot to take on - an acting career, running an acting studio and starting a talent agency.
I have taken a lot of chances here, opening an acting studio without understanding the market. I sold it and created the talent agency, then sold that a year later because I knew I didn't want to be an agent. I was just creating an opportunity for all of us. A mogul wears a lot of hats. She creates businesses and makes opportunities for people to have jobs.

What does the future hold for you, and what are your hopes for the Louisiana film industry?
I am so excited about this market. It changed my life. I went from being a shallow and self-absorbed LA actress, running around not really appreciating people. It's just a different lifestyle in LA. I have never worked as hard in my life as I did here. What I am doing is creating an entertainment wheel that started with the acting studio. We are finding the talent and the resources so we can build the field together. There is no telling where Louisiana is going to be in a couple more years.

Here's the preview for The Ledge. (Check out the great shots of Louisiana's Old State Capitol in the first few seconds.)

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