Behind The Fourth Wall: How Performing Off The Field Developed A Star

Behind The Fourth Wall: How Performing Off The Field Developed A Star

The show must always go on.

At Southern Oak Stadium, the home of the Jacksonville University women's soccer team, the Dolphins have battled through thick and thin, standing at an overall record of 3-6 with more than half of their 2017 season schedule completed.

The effort this year has been by committee, with 27 different players on the team seeing action on the field in some capacity. Freshman Kia Jie Jacobs has been one of them, playing in eight of the team's nine contest thus far, with seven shots to her name. 

 Hailing from Atlanta, Ga., the mechanical engineering major has steadied the team with her strong play on the front line, usually coming off the bench into a game. It's quickly obvious watching her play that she's used to performing at high levels.

 Perhaps that's because she's had plenty of experience performing, not just on a soccer pitch, but on stage as well. Sometimes even on camera, in front of a national audience.

 "Acting was my first love, my first passion when I came out of the womb," Jacobs remembers. "I come from a family of thespians, so I was kind of born into it."

 Taking after her mother, a theater performance major at Kennesaw State University who went on to front a female hip-hop group and instruct acting camps, Jacobs has long been involved in the performance industry. From staring at Atlanta's historic Fox Theatre at the age of seven, to spending childhood summers at camps sponsored by the Foundation of Arts, Music, and Education, her resume began building at a young age.

"I did have a phase where I was really shy," she recalled. "Until I was seven, I was basically mute. I feel like acting broke me out of that shell, and it does that with everyone I think."

Under the guidance of an acting agency, Jacobs eventually found her way into roles with more exposure, and made her way into commercials for national brands such as Goldfish and Delta Airlines. 

Her self-described "big break" came in 2008, when, at the age of 11, she made appearances in six episodes of Tyler Perry's House of Payne as Sandy, a friend of Jazmine Payne's who tended to be a bit of a bad influence. The success of her recurring appearances earned her a role in the 2010 TBS micro-series Gillian in Georgia, which ran for a season as a test pilot.          

In the wake of her success as a budding actress, Jacobs ultimately turned away from focusing on acting as a full-time career, and focused on sports and academics instead. While she continued to participate in auditions and commercials, Kia's mother steered her more towards performing on the field and in the classroom.

"I found soccer because my mom didn't want me to do acting full-time," said Jacobs. "She thought it wasn't a reliable career."

After spending four years as an Owl studying theater, Antonne Broussard had found some mainstream success as a recording artist, making up one-fourth of the early 90's female quartet NKRU (Naughty Kreations R Unified), who were signed to RCA Records. Although the group started out with some notoriety, landing on the Billboard R&B charts for 10 weeks with their 1993 remake of Zapp's "Computer Love", Broussard's music career ended before the group could release their debut album. She then found herself a single mother of two, teaching special education and leading acting camps whose participants included her daughters Kia Jie and Asia Bay.

 "She let go of her passion to take care of us," Jacobs explained. "That's why she's such a big role model for me."

 Heeding her mother's advice, Jacobs invested herself in academics and athletics, competing for her high school's  robotics club and playing basketball and soccer. Success with the latter allowed her to continue her career at JU, where she has already made an impact on the team.

 "I've never been closed-minded about things," Jacobs said. "Coaches and mentors always wanted to limit me to just one activity, but I never wanted to. I just like to keep myself involved."

 Staying up to speed with so many activities at once can sometimes wear on a person. However, the key to Jacobs' success thus far? The self-confidence and character development she built while acting as a child.

 "Acting builds your character, period. Whether on set or on the field, you carry your character with you. In acting, I feel like that was my base, because I needed to have self-confidence to book different jobs, just as I needed it to make it through soccer try-outs."

 A life-long advocate for the arts, Jacobs can be found on collegiate soccer fields around the country living out one passion, while carrying another inside. She plans on being involved with the Jacksonville Theater Department in the future, with hopes of performing in a school musical sometime soon. Until then, be sure that her performances on the soccer pitch will display the character and self-confidence she developed early in life as an actress.

"I feel like people should appreciate theater and performing arts, because it teaches you about yourself. It tells you to dig deeper, that you're a person, that you have feelings and a personality, and to not be afraid to show it. It teaches you about self-confidence and how to present yourself."