The Pumping Podcast - Jessica Lorion
The cozy neighborhood of Astoria has long enjoyed a reputation as a culinary paradise.
To say that there is truly something for everyone on the menus of Astoria's diverse array of restaurants and cafes would be an understatement.
However, what may not be quite as well known is the fact that this warm and friendly neighborhood is home to a growing number of talented artists and artisans; everyone from actors, authors, designers and musicians to painters and poets.
The creative vibe is in the air everywhere, from the bright lights of 30th Avenue's restaurant row to the bucolic, tree-lined streets of Ditmars.
When you visit your favorite restaurant, for pick-up or to dine-in, the odds are that your server is busy in their free time going out on auditions for both TV series and motion pictures or, perhaps, putting the finishing touches on a sculpture or painting that will soon be on exhibit at a local gallery.
Foremost among Astoria's community of rising stars is television, film and theater artist Jessica Lorion.
A proud seven-year resident of Astoria, Jessica came to NYC, not only to realize her show business dreams but to be among kindred spirits.
Jess had always dreamed of living in NYC. In fact, her passion to move here was so great that she actually passed up a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy, (a graduation present from her Mom), and decided to relocate to the Big Apple.
At first, things were far from easy. But, as the immortal Frank Sinatra once sang..." If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. It's up to you New York, New York." As far as Jess was concerned, failure was NOT an option.
The city that never sleeps is also where Jess met her actor husband Kevin Martinez Rivera, soon after moving here. They connected at a restaurant where she was working. At the time, Jessica was living in the city and had never even heard of Astoria.
"I remember visiting Kevin and getting off the train at the Ditmars station. While walking to his apartment, I saw this beautiful floral shop right at the corner where there is now a CVS and felt that I had been transported to another world. It was exhilarating."
"One of my favorite parts about living in Astoria is the small town, the neighborhood
feels. It's not Manhattan, but it's not suburbia, either. I love it when you get off the subway, look around and all of the massive Manhattan buildings just seem to disappear. You gaze up and can see the sky again."
Originally hailing from Taunton, Massachusetts, Jessica Lorion had the good fortune to be raised in a musical family. Both parents were singers and dad played the trumpet professionally for a time.
Her parents encouraged Jess to take lessons in music, singing and dancing, all the while expanding her creative horizons whenever possible.
"Mom was the head of the music department at a local high school in the Boston area, She retired recently after 42 years of teaching. My mom actually had the school auditorium named in her honor," added Jess with a great deal of pride in her voice.
Jessica graduated, with a BFA in musical theater, from Shenandoah Conservatory, which is located in Winchester Virginia. It is among the University's hallowed halls where Jess honed her skills in the theatrical profession and came to the realization that there was nothing else she would rather be doing in life.
This charismatic and multi-faceted actor has already achieved an enviable resume with a myriad of fresh opportunities looming on the horizon.
You may already have caught Jessica on the Eros / Amazon Prime mini-series Metro Park or Homicide City: Charlotte, on Investigation Discovery, as well as several national TV commercials.
Her theatrical credits include the role of Babette on the North American tour of Disney's Beauty and the Beast as well as bringing to life the iconic character of Mary Poppins in not one, but two different touring companies.
Jess has also wowed audiences in stage productions of Cinderella and Legally Blonde.
Aplez.com wondered if Jessica encountered any hurdles in bringing Mary Poppins to life and making the role her own.
"Honestly, I don't feel that I faced any real challenges. It was an opportunity to be cherished; one that literally felt like the glass slipper from Cinderella. The shoe fit perfectly and I felt like I belonged. Once in rehearsal, I started speaking the words and singing the songs and it felt like I was always meant to do this."
The excitement in Jessica's voice was palpable. "I consider myself to be warm and welcoming but also powerful and focused, so everything aligned perfectly with WHO Mary Poppins is."
During our chat, though, Jessica wanted to give props to the talented thespians who preceded her as Mary Poppins, such as the legendary Julie Andrews and West End sensation, Laura Michelle Kelly.
In fact, Jessica ended up interviewing Laura, who is a mom, for her podcast. To be sure, they had a ton of things to talk about.
Behind the scenes, Jessica was one of the creative forces behind Ghost: The Musical - Chamber Version, whose world premiere production was co-produced by the Fulton Theater and the Maine State Music Theater.
One of Jessica's great passions is dance and, over the past few years, she has been expanding her career in choreography.
Jess returned to her Massachusetts roots and worked with the students at Oliver Ames High School in Easton MA. on the musical Mamma Mia, coordinating all the dance numbers.
When Covid prevented the live show from taking place, the ever-resourceful Jess posted a video of her students singing songs from the production on Instagram.
The video received an amazing 126,000 views and was reposted by none other than Jennifer Garner and Laura Benanti.
Mentoring the next generation of artists is important to Jessica and she gives back whenever she can to young people.
We asked Jess to imagine that she was putting together the guestlist for an intimate dinner party. Which three guests would she choose?
It didn't take Jess long to come up with an answer.
"It would be my honor to break bread with Julia Roberts. She is someone I totally admire in the acting business. Right up there would be Michelle Obama, simply BECAUSE she's Michelle Obama. I would also love to chat with Amy Schumer. I am blown away by the vulnerability she displayed in publicly expressing the challenges she faced as a mother."
Never one who is content to rest on her laurels, Jess is always on the lookout for new challenges in life, both onstage and off. Maybe that's why she is such a big fan of adrenalin-charged hobbies like skydiving, zip-lining and roller coasters. Bring 'em on! The bigger, the better!
Jessica's newest creative foray is in the world of podcasting. Through various interviews, the Pumping Podcast features local moms as they talk frankly about the ups and downs of getting through the first few months after the birth of their child.
A great listener and compassionate person, Jessica was MADE to host a podcast such as this. There's just something so very natural and genuine about Jessica that encourages people to confide in her.
You can catch the Pumping Podcast, at your leisure, on iHeart Radio, Spotify, YouTube, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. It's not hard to find and most definitely well worth the effort.
As the founder, host and producer of The Pumping Podcast, Jess is seeking to connect Astoria's moms with each other, reassuring them that they are NOT alone!
Jess is determined to build a rock-solid community through her podcast.
But, let's allow Jessica to explain the Pumping Podcast's mission in her own words.
" I launched the Pumping Podcast when I started hearing from all my friends who were mamas that pumping and breastfeeding can be kind of lonely and isolating. All of my friends seemed to be getting pregnant at the same time. I was looking for a creative outlet and thought that it would be a good idea to get something going where moms could turn to for answers and support."
" The podcast is intended for the moms out there to have something to listen to during these times, so they don't feel quite so alone."
Continuing on, Jess added that she feels that....." Mamas are the heroes of the world and I want to do all I can to help lift them up. "
With well over sixty episodes available, the Pumping Podcast presents listeners with a wealth of useful information and anecdotes as moms share their stories.
Guaranteed, as you listen to the various episodes, you will experience a rainbow of emotions.
" The podcast is in an interview format, " explained Jessica. " I talk to moms about their journey into motherhood. When you tune in to the Pumping Podcast,you can expect honesty, warmth and vulnerability. Basically, I wanted to create an environment where women felt heard. You will be listening to stories of unbelievable strength and love."
For a change of pace, Jess has a handful of episodes called Coffee Chats.
"In these, I share a few of my favorite things. It could be something that's inspiring me and making my brain tick that month or a very special quote."
This writer wanted to know what a typical day was like for Jessica as the producer and host of such a popular podcast.
"Every day presents its own set of challenges," replied Jess. " There are a ton of things involved in preparing each podcast. First, I have to decide WHO to interview, what subject we will talk about and then do the actual interview. After that, I dive right into the editing process and record intros for each episode."
Whew! We were getting tired just listening to Jessica's list of tasks.
If all that wasn't enough, Jess also handles all of the social media content for the show as well as her website, Facebook and Instagram AND makes sure that all episodes are released on the proper date. Did we mention that, additionally, she writes the notes describing the content of every episode?
On the podcast, Jess refers to herself as a "mama in training." And she's getting a lot of helpful advice from the Moms she is interviewing.
"I'm not YET a mama, but I can't wait to become one someday. In the meantime, though, I am looking to the moms out there for all the tips and tricks I can learn ahead of time."
During the interview, Jessica had some breaking news for us. It appears that the Pumping Podcast will be undergoing a small re-branding in the coming weeks, with new stuff debuting in April.
Mamas in Training will be geared more towards first-time moms. The interviews with mothers will still be a part of it, but experts will also be weighing in on a variety of topics answering the listener's questions.
"I want to give our loyal audience more value than ever. " emphatically stated Jess. " Right now, I am looking to hire some help so that I can pass off a few of those time-consuming behind the scenes duties. I want to focus 200% on the actual interviews, which is what I enjoy the most."
With the little leisure time that she has, Jess enjoys spending time with her husband as well as working out at The Rock gym.
And, of course, one cannot live in a neighborhood like Astoria without being something of a foodie. Jessica relishes the opportunity to expand her cooking skills at home as well as sampling everything that her adopted hometown has to offer in terms of restaurants and cafes.
"My favorite coffee place has to be NYC Bagel and Coffee House," revealed Jess.
"The Queen's Room on Ditmars Blvd. is a nice place to chill and get some work done. I like to go in the afternoon, get a small lunch and coffee and be super-productive on my computer. When I want to treat myself, I head on over to Tufinos'. They make incredible gluten-free pizza there. The one I cannot resist is called every day I'm Trufflin. It's to die for. So delicious."
We wound up our chat by asking Jess if she had anything she wanted to add for Aplez.com's readers.
"It has been an absolute joy to share my story with the neighborhood that I love best, Astoria. If there is any way that I can serve a mother or future mom out there, please reach out to me. I'm creating this community for YOU! "
It looks as though this is all just the start of something big for JESSICA LORION, as both an entertainer and a community builder, connecting moms all over.