Former El Pasoan joins cast of "Major Crimes"
Before the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, Jessica Meraz was a little girl growing up in El Paso.
And it wasn't long before the life of an actor came calling.
"We went to see a musical and I saw a little girl performing in one and I had never thought it was something for kids, too," said Meraz. "We were having such a good time, and I just caught the bug right then."
After graduating from Coronado High School, Jessica went on to attend the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. And her career started to take off.
"So I did some plays and I did some student films but I was already starting to dip my toe outside," she said. "It was during college that I did my first commercials. I got my SAG card. I did 'Greek.'"
But then the momentum was interrupted. Jessica was in a serious car accident.
"I had to deal with a year of chronic pain and getting over this neck injury and it was several surgeries and it was a real struggle in my life."
It wasn't long before Jessica landed a role as a series regular on the ABC Family show "Chasing Life."
"That's where I really got my training wheels taken off and where I was in the thick of it," she said.
And despite memorable moments alongside comedic standouts like Ben Schwartz and an unforgettable appearance on Comedy Central's "Drunk History," Jessica said her career had hit a crossroads. She was considering a life back home in El Paso.
"I'm thinking ahead, 'Ok, where do i want to be in five years, where do I want to be in ten years,'" she said. "I'm really going down the rabbit hole of this existential 'what is life' and it was really a few months of that and I was driving everyone in my circle and close life nuts."
But then earlier this year, a huge break. Jessica joined the cast of the TNT show "Major Crimes."
"I went over to my friends place and we popped champagne," she said. "Then I found out that it was for sure and that I was in every episode and that it was a series regular contract and it was a huge change in my life."
Season six featuring Jessica as Det. Camila Paige started airing last month.
On a visit to El Paso last week, Jessica says her experience on "Major Crimes" has been life-changing.
"It's been the most fulfilling six months of my life," she said.
And while her prospects in Hollywood has never looked brighter, Jessica says her love for her hometown continues to inform her career.
"It's home in every sense of the word," she said. "It is in my veins and it is part of who I am. Someone asked me if it shaped me as an actor. It shapes everything I do. I'm very connected to my hometown."