are some screen captures from Jessica's interview on MovieTelevision
which aired during the week of December 30, 2000 in the US (and the
week before in Canada.) The segment included an interview with
Jessica as well as her co-star Margot Kidder.
About Jessica's Role
In SOCIETY'S CHILD Jessica plays the role of mother to a daughter suffering from Rett Syndrome. "I was a little worried about expressing the comfort and ease you need to portray a mom, but acting with Kyley (Nikki) has made my job a lot easier." Jessica also found all the four producers very encouraging. "I like and respect them all and admire them for tackling this story."
Ten-year-old Nikki Best (Kyley Statham) is a beautiful child with a smile that lights up a room. She also has a magnetic personality, a wicked sense of humour and an amazing range of expression. Nikki also has Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that only affects girls. Because of the disease, Nikki can speak only a few words and can't walk or eat without assistance.
Rett Syndrome is not well understood and most people believe Nikki is also mentally handicapped. Her mother Terry, played by Jessica Steen, knows they're wrong. She can communicate with her daughter and encourages others to do the same.
Terry is the system's worst nightmare. The single mother of seven children by numerous fathers is far more intelligent than her Grade 8 education would have you believe. Terry knows the social services system intimately and doesn't hesitate to fight for her rights and those of her children.
When Nikki is diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, Terry struggles to learn all she can about the disease, becoming an expert in her own right and a fierce advocate for her daughter's treatment.
Margot Kidder plays the role of Joan, a social worker trying to help the entire family cope with Nikki's disorder. Although she has Nikki's best interests at heart, her efforts are almost always met with suspicion and hostility.
When Nikki's health begins to decline, Terry's fight turns into her ultimate challenge - the battle for Nikki to have control over her own life and ultimately, her own death.
SOCIETY'S CHILD is a powerful story told by an exceptional child, whose fantastic imagination raises this moving drama into the realm of magic realism. The cinematic style of the film capitalizes on Nikki's point of view to create a dark, magical and poetic world.
It explores one of the most haunting questions facing us as a modern society. When is it right to refuse medical intervention and let someone die? If that person happens to be a child, especially one who is profoundly disabled, should that child actually have a choice in making this kind of difficult decision?
Although SOCIETY'S CHILD takes an arduous journey through an emotional and ethical landscape, it is ultimately a story of unconditional love.
"We needed someone with a strong range to portray Terry. She is independent and incredibly stubborn and has an inner core made of steel. But she loves her kids and is committed to giving them the best she can. We saw a lot of actors before casting Jessica Steen, none of them had the fierce intelligence we found in her." - Sharon McGowan, producer
"I hadn't heard of Rett Syndrome before, but the medical ethics in this story could pertain to any disability. Terry has difficult decisions to make, and whether or not she made the right ones are hard to answer. But she does her best and she loves her daughter." - Jessica Steen, Terry
Last update: November 14, 2002 5:44 PM