Hamilton native gets break in blockbuster ‘Halloween Ends’ movie

Jessica Ross’s life has been blowing up since she got her first role in the blockbuster movie “Halloween Ends,” which was released on Oct. 14.

“It’s been more exciting than I could ever imagine,” said the 2007 Hamilton High School graduate in response to appearing in the latest “Halloween” franchise movie.

Ross, 33, whose maiden name is Cook, grew up watching the “Halloween” movies. They were “an escape,” especially when things were tough, and times could be tough growing up as a heavy-set child in a low-income family. She said the slasher movies, which she calls the Michael Myers movies, the franchise’s villain, were what she turned to.

“Things would be going on in the household, and I would be consumed with good movies, good acting, things that made me feel really nostalgic,” she said. “Usually, back then, the Michael Myers movies were in the 1970s and ‘80s, so it was an earlier period than what I was actually living in, so movies like that made me feel good, even though it was horror. It just seemed like a different world, and I loved it.”

A friend in Georgia knew of her love of the Halloween franchise, and knew of an open call for “Halloween Ends.”

“I was like, ‘Sure, It’s something on my bucket list. It’ll be fun,’” she said.

When she arrived, hundreds of people were there, but she didn’t look like anyone else. “I was like, ‘Oh no. I don’t have a shot, but this is fine.’”

During the open call, Ross’s friend was speaking with one of the workers about some of the roles, specifically the coroner’s role. Through that conversation, it was revealed she used to be a cop with the Hamilton Police Department. They asked for a picture of her in uniform. She sends it in, and a week later, while she’s in the McDonald’s drive-thru getting her son a Happy Meal, she gets an email notifying her that the director picked her for the coroner’s role.

“I about lost it,” she said.

“Halloween Ends” is the first acting gig for Ross, who’s been the subject of some print advertising before then, but calls the opportunity “the start to even better things to come.”

“Since then, I have had the honor of working with Apple TV, and it’s a lot of things that haven’t been released yet,” she said.

One of those appearances is in the Apple TV+ streaming series “Manhunt,” which tells the story of the search for John Wilks Booth after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. According to IMDB, Ross appears in seven episodes and plays multiple roles.

Acting has been her safe place. It’s been something that’s allowed her to channel her emotions, especially since her mom, Mary Gallaher, died in April 2020, not long after her son was born. She was “broken.”

“Grief hit me pretty hard,” said Ross. “I was in shock because I had been through so much term oil in my life, so many obstacles I had overcame. Why can’t I overcome this?”

This was the third devastating death in her life. The first was her great-grandmother, Alice Kramer, who died in November 2007.

“I had to be an adult,” she said, which included buying a house and figuring out how to live. “I didn’t have time to jump into college because I had to pay the bills.”

In 2010, she decided to enlist in the Army, in hopes that she could find herself. She stayed only four years, serving as an Aviation Operations Specialist, which required her to be responsible for scheduling and dispatching tactical aircraft. During her tour in the Army, the second devastating death in her life happened. Her uncle, Roger French, Sr., who also lived in Ross’s childhood home and was a father figure, passed away in April 2012.

“It was almost like mom and dad were gone,” she said, referring to her great-grandmother and uncle.

After the Army, she moved back to Hamilton and got a job with the Butler County Dispatch Center. While there, she decided to take classes at the police academy. When she graduated, she was offered a job with both the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and the Hamilton Police Department. She chose the Hamilton Police Department.

But she wanted something more. Something else. After a year, she and her fiancé, Courtney, left town and moved south to Savannah, Ga., in 2017. They were married in Georgia on June 24, 2017.

Acting is therapeutic for Ross. It lets her work through her emotions, she said, giving her a safe place “to be outside the norm.”

She never thought about acting before she left Hamilton, but she thought about her future.

“As a kid, I didn’t grow up with a lot,” she said. “I was raised by my great-grandma, but I never looked at the present moment or the past, I always had my eye on the future, and I knew I wanted to do better and make everyone proud.”

Ross hasn’t been back home to Hamilton since her mother’s funeral. It’s too hard, she said. Too many memories of what she had lost.

“I have been very timid about coming back home just because the heart of home is gone,” she said. “After losing my mother, it was really hard, just driving through town and feel that empty feeling all over again.”

But since the release of “Halloween Ends,” she’s been overwhelmed with positive responses from friends and family, so much so that she’s ready to return home.

“I said to myself, ‘I want to go back. I’m ready to go back.’ There’s going to be open arms, and there’s going to be enough support that I won’t be devastated,’” she said. “I won’t feel that empty feeling because it will be filled with the love of my friends and family.”

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