Although born in a small town, Jaeda Jordan always had big dreams. Growing up, she wanted to be a model and had aspirations of one day becoming an actress, but rejection early on crushed her spirit.
Years passed, but the Waxhaw native never truly moved on. Now at the age of 31, her dream has finally come true as she’s made it to the big screen in “A Carolina Christmas.” The movie was filmed last year in Myrtle Beach and premiered in 13 states on Nov. 20.
“When no one else would give it to me, he bet on Jaeda,” Jordan said of writer and director Jerry Dalton. “He showed me I was doing the right thing and I was exactly where God wanted me to be, so I appreciate him for entrusting me with this part.”
“A Carolina Christmas” is set in Paradise, South Carolina – a quaint, coastal community where everyone gets along. That is, until Ben shows up. Ben has been hired as the new city inspector and little did the city know that Ben hates Christmas and has vowed to shut it down.
Jordan plays Tashandra, a loved city employee of Paradise who is not about to let this new inspector from New York City ruin her favorite time of year. Ben steps up his campaign to shut down Christmas when a new merchant comes to town and defies him at every turn.
“My job was just to show him how great Christmas is,” Jordan said.
The film also follows two other storylines.
Charley and Erika are two individuals who are slightly bitter with the world. When they cross paths, it can only lead to sparks as they both have the same personality but refuse to admit it.
Single mom Elizabeth and her daughter, Bella, recently moved to Paradise to start a new life. Elizabeth works at the pizza restaurant attached to the motel where she lives. Tim moves into the room next to Elizabeth’s, but not everyone is who they appear to be.
“The message is so beautiful … it’s the hope that Christmas is still alive,” Jordan said. “The ending is nothing short of a blessing. The movie is amazing.”
For Jordan, seeing her childhood dream become a reality means everything. She had done some modeling as a teenager, but said there came a time when she was told she was “too heavy for a commercial or too wide for an agency.”
“I remember one of the reps at a certain modeling agency told me, ‘When you go from a size eight to a size two, come back and audition,’” Jordan said. “That was my last audition. I had given up. Although my family never gave up on me, I still threw in the towel and I began to focus on my studies.”
Jordan earned an associate degree in social work, bachelor’s in human service management, master’s in business administration and master’s in organizational leadership. She worked in the corporate world for eight years before leaving to take a break.
It was then that she came across an audition for a role in “A Carolina Christmas” and thought, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Turns out, she would never know because she got the part.
“All I saw in my mind was the ‘yes,’ and it was a manifestation of that,” she said.
Jordan, who now lives in Concord, was on set for four days and filmed four scenes. Since “A Carolina Christmas” was her first movie, she said there was a lot to learn. For starters, she didn’t realize how many camera angles were needed to capture a single shot.
“There were so many takes,” Jordan said.
The most surreal moment was last month when Jordan took her mom to the premiere in Myrtle Beach. She said it was “priceless” for her mom to see her on the big screen, especially since she was there for all her auditions as a teenager.
“It was one of those moments like, pinch me so I can see if this is real,” Jordan said.
Jordan works as a project coordinator for residential and commercial properties, but she wants to eventually transition to acting in commercials, TV and movies. If nothing else, she hopes her role in “A Carolina Christmas” inspires others who dream of becoming an actor.
“I just don’t want them to give up too early because that one audition can change everything,” Jordan said. “Before, I didn’t have anything. Now I have something to put on a resume.”
“A Carolina Christmas” has completed its run in North Carolina. It is still in theaters in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin. It is not yet available to stream.