High hopes

North­east nat­ive Jes­sica Barth has been hard at work build­ing a film ca­reer. She’s hope­ful that a movie by the cre­at­or of TV’s ‘Fam­ily Guy’ will be her big break.

Jes­sica Barth, a North­east nat­ive is a Los Angeled-based act­ress. She just wrapped up film­ing a movie called Ted with Mark Wahl­berg and Mila Kunis. Kev­in Cook / for the Times

Jes­sica Barth is a Frank­ford nat­ive and North­east High School gradu­ate who stud­ied theat­er arts and cre­at­ive writ­ing at West Chester Uni­versity.

In Oc­to­ber 2001, a few months after gradu­at­ing from col­lege, she drove cross-coun­try to Cali­for­nia to pur­sue her dream of be­com­ing an act­ress.

Barth wasn’t ex­pect­ing to be­come an in­stant star.

“They say it takes ten years to make an overnight suc­cess,” she said. “It’s a pro­cess.”

Well, 10 years later, Barth is hop­ing that a forth­com­ing movie will be the start of something big.

The 33-year-old act­ress, who can eas­ily play young­er parts, will ap­pear in a pretty prom­in­ent role in Ted. She spent eight weeks, off and on, film­ing scenes in Bo­ston from May through Ju­ly.

The movie will hit the big screens on Ju­ly 13. It stars Mark Wahl­berg, Mila Kunis, Patrick War­bur­ton, Joel McHale and Gio­vanni Ribisi.

“I got to see a private screen­ing of it,” she said. “The cast is phe­nom­en­al. It was pretty in­cred­ible that I got to work with all of them.”

Barth, who at­ten­ded the Fox Chase Ele­ment­ary School and Woo­drow Wilson Middle School, grew up with a con­nec­tion to the en­ter­tain­ment in­dustry. Her grand­fath­er, John Barth, owned a cast­ing agency and ap­peared in roles ran­ging from Man of La Man­cha on Broad­way to the Tidy Bowl man on a tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial.

Barth ap­peared as an ex­tra in the 1990 film Rocky V and took some act­ing classes as a teen­ager at the Wilma Theat­er. She also played soft­ball and took part in gym­nastics in her youth and worked at eat­er­ies such as Olive Garden, Old Lon­don Pizza and Qual­ity Pizza.

On Sunday nights, she and her dad, Rocky, would watch movies to­geth­er. “Since the time I was little, I’ve been ob­sessed with movies and tele­vi­sion. I fell in love with act­ing,” she said.

Barth spent two years study­ing com­mu­nic­a­tions at La Salle Uni­versity be­fore trans­fer­ring to West Chester, where she took part in the stu­dent-run ex­per­i­ment­al theat­er pro­gram. She starred in Ham­let and The Im­port­ance of Be­ing Earn­est.

Look­ing back, she be­lieves that her days at West Chester helped her in pur­suit of a pro­fes­sion­al ca­reer.

“There were a lot of op­por­tun­it­ies,” she said.

Since ar­riv­ing in the Golden State a dec­ade ago, Barth has ap­peared in such tele­vi­sion shows as CSI: Crime Scene In­vest­ig­a­tion, Days of Our Lives and How I Met Your Moth­er. She’s been the voice of Brandee and Kate Hud­son in epis­odes of the Fox an­im­ated series Fam­ily Guy.

And she played a flight at­tend­ant in the 2008 movie Get Smart.

“It was a small part. I was on the set for three days and got to see Steve Carell work. He’s so nice and humble,” she said.

Along the way, she spent eight years work­ing at the Burb­ank Bar & Grill.

The movie Ted rep­res­ents a big leap in her ca­reer. The film is in the post-pro­duc­tion phase. It was writ­ten and dir­ec­ted by Seth Mac­Far­lane, cre­at­or of Fam­ily Guy.

“He’s fant­ast­ic,” she said. “He’s prob­ably the smartest per­son I’ve met in my en­tire life.”

Mac­Far­lane provides the voice for Ted, a teddy bear. Barth plays Tami-Lynn, the bear’s girl­friend.

The film is about an av­er­age guy (Wahl­berg) and his teddy bear, who comes to life as the res­ult of a child­hood wish. The bear, though, gets in the way of the man’s ro­mance with a wo­man played by Kunis.

Barth de­scribes the flick as a “buddy story.” It’s an R-rated com­edy.

“I think it’s go­ing to be really good,” she said. “It’s hys­ter­ic­al in the vein of Fam­ily Guy. Mark Wahl­berg is so charm­ing in it, the way he in­ter­acts with the bear.”

Barth re­searched her char­ac­ter by watch­ing MTV’s Jer­sey Shore and get­ting a hair­style like Snooki’s.

“She’s kind of white trash with a short tem­per,” Barth said of the char­ac­ter Tami-Lynn, not Snooki.

Barth had to drop any hints of be­ing from Phil­adelphia or Los Angeles. “I had to work really, really hard on a Bo­ston ac­cent,” she said.

The pre­par­a­tion worked. Barth heard one of the loc­al act­ors tell the dir­ect­or of pho­to­graphy, “I’m so happy you guys hired a girl from Bo­ston.”

Barth is con­fid­ent that her per­form­ance in Ted will be more ful­filling than the 2007 film Next. She spent four days shoot­ing the film, which was about a Las Ve­gas mu­si­cian who could see in­to the fu­ture and is pur­sued by FBI agents seek­ing to use his abil­it­ies to pre­vent a nuc­le­ar ter­ror­ist at­tack.

In the end, Barth was seen on screen, but her speak­ing parts were left on the cut­ting-room floor. “I still got to stay at a beau­ti­ful hotel and hang out with Nic­olas Cage,” she said.

Re­cently, Barth was in town for Thanks­giv­ing, stay­ing with her mom Mary Beth in Park­wood.

A few days earli­er, she was in­vited to the GQ Men of the Year red-car­pet party at the fancy Chat­eau Mar­mont hotel in West Hol­ly­wood, where she met Justin Tim­ber­lake and Jay-Z.

In Philly, she spent plenty of time with her five neph­ews and two nieces, and helped her sis­ter, Gina O’Rourke, open the new Loop Caf&ea­cute; in Fox Chase.

Barth is back home in L.A. with her hus­band Brett, a gradu­ate stu­dent in mar­riage and fam­ily ther­apy at Cali­for­nia State Uni­versity, North­ridge.

Next week, she’ll be film­ing on the set of the ABC Fam­ily com­edy Melissa & Joey, star­ring Melissa Joan Hart and an­oth­er Phil­adelphia-area nat­ive, Joey Lawrence.

When she’s not act­ing, Barth is teach­ing Pi­l­ates classes and “Pilox­ing,” which mixes box­ing and fit­ness ex­er­cises.

The de­cision to move to the West Coast, she be­lieves, has been a good one in ret­ro­spect. She’s rep­res­en­ted by Dav­id Guil­lod, of In­tel­lec­tu­al Artists Man­age­ment.

“Ca­reer-wise, it’s been phe­nom­en­al. I’m so grate­ful. My goal is to con­tin­ue to work in film,” she said. “The only down­fall is that I’m so far from my fam­ily.” ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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