Jillian Murray of ‘Code Black’ Could Probs Save Your Life IRL
You might recognize her from when she guest-starred on your fave childhood shows, like “Sonny With a Chance” and “Drake and Josh,” but Jillian Murray is definitely not Disney material anymore.
In the years since her debut, Jillian starred in a few indie films, and got really into horror films. We’re guessing she caught an affinity for blood because now the brunette bombshell stars as Dr. Heather Pinkney on CBS’s medical drama “Code Black.”
We talked to Jillian about her earlier projects, her dream shoes, and what she is up to now while starring on “Code Black.”
How did you originally get into acting?
I actually started acting in Tucson, Arizona, when I was a teenager, and there was a Wild West Show that they had going on, and I wanted to do something to get a job, so I started doing a Wild West show. But then, they found out I was underage, and they made me stop.
In “The Fun Park,” you played someone who was mentally unstable. Is it difficult getting into the mindset of roles like that?
“The Fun Park” was one of the first films I did, and I booked it same month my dad passed away. So it was a really weird emotional time for me. We filmed in Oklahoma, and I met one of my good friends Randy Wayne. As far as getting into the role, emotional things are not difficult to get to, but it was hard and it’s like a very similar release as when you go to the gym. Like when you’re working out, during the actual workout, you’re like this sucks, and the second you get home you’re like okay, I’m glad that’s over.
Was it hard to transition from younger roles, like starring on “Sonny With a Chance”, to more mature roles?
Well after doing the like Disney and Nickelodeon shows, I started doing little indie films. “Sonny With a Chance” was something I was kind of thrown into, because it was like variety acting, and it was something that I learned as I was going. You kind of evolve with your work. The material you get in your early 20s material is much different material I get now in my late 20s. Doing “Code Black” is now is the most difficult job that I have ever done. Everything is much harder because all of the medical information. It has to be accurate, and it has different jokes and things like that because it’s a medical drama. But I love it.
And on the show, I’m doing really cool things. I’m doing cool surgeries, and we have medical bootcamp before each show and we have these fake expensive bodies that we practice on and they are really detailed and the organs are so real. All the information has to be accurate, so we literally have to learn how to do this stuff.
What would be your dream operation to do on the show?
I would love to do some sort of plastic surgery. I’d love to watch like a liposuction. I think it is so interesting, just like the concept of plastic surgery. I wonder if I could ask someone who could set me up with that. I love to binge watch “Botched” on E! because you look at the transformation and it’s so crazy to see the before and after. And especially for the person, like you just made that person’s life better by doing this surgery for them.
Describe your character on “Code Black.”
Heather is very confident. Her mouth gets her in trouble a lot. She has little patience, and she always feels she is right, so when her supervisors tell her what to do, she kind of goes to the beat of her own drum, and she’s very skilled. I love when I play someone like that who is skilled and confident. She definitely naughty, like she was in a relationship with her boss and a co-worker at the same time.
Are there any moments while filming for “Code Black” where you felt like your character was doing something morally wrong, like when she threatened to turn Dr. Campbell in for sexual harassment? How do you deal with that?
Well the good news is that I feel like I blend into Heather, I understand every decision she makes and it feels like a decision I would make. There was something that happened that was morally wrong, like there was an episode where an underage girl broke her leg and she needed to get it amputated, but her father didn’t believe in medicine because of their religion so obviously Heather felt compelled to help. Her moral compass came into play, and while you have to respect someones decision, but also as a doctor you also have to think of the patient, and in the show I go against her father’s wishes and it felt like the right decision and as a person, as Jillian, I would have agreed. And there are several moments where I’m playing that I’m like yes, okay I understand why she would do this. It’s almost like we are parallel in some respects.
You have also produced a film, called “Visible Scars”. How is that different for you than acting?
I got involved when I was doing a bunch of horror films and I just wanted to get involved behind the scenes, I wanted to see every step, and after you do a lot of horror films, you get so into it. I just wanted to learn more about it and the financial side of it. And even then, there’s so much more to it. You have to secure financial sources, find locations. There’s so many small factors that go into it. I have so much respect for producers, and they don’t get nearly enough credit for what they do. No one thinks about location permits or like things that have to be done, like this permit for this location had filed to today and it was the only day.
Which one do you like more?
Oh, they’re totally different animals. Acting is such a creative process and producing is totally the opposite. Like with producing, you have to be orderly and good with numbers and finding creative people to cast. It’s like black and white, I couldn’t choose.
Would you ever consider to producing more projects?
I think right now, “Code Black” is my number one priority, but if something came up that could come out that I could help with or I know something that could work, I might. I like connecting people for projects. I do it all the time without knowing it and I get to know people who will work well together, and I hook them up with one another. But I never say never.
Describe your perfect day.
It changes all the time. I guess, if it’s a really busy week, then probably sitting at home with my boyfriend watching Netflix, but if it were a slow week, I’d want to be doing something and going somewhere. I love when I’m traveling, or anytime I get to finding a new hidden gem in Los Angeles so finding new adventures and things like that is what I love to do.
What are some of your must have fashion pieces?
I am a shoe hoarder. I am obsessed with shoes, I literally have an entire room in my house dedicated to shoes. I am at 260 pairs or something, I don’t even wear them they just sit there collecting dust. I think the one thing I’m really into right now is the over the knee boots. I have the Stuart Weitzman ones, but I really want the beige pointy toe over the knee ones. It seems like the perfect winter boot, and LA doesn’t even really get that cold. So my options for winter boots and clothes are really limited, and all the jackets I love, like the heavy wool ones, you can only wear in New York. So out here it’s like a leather jacket and like a cute dress or something.
If you could give advice to someone getting into acting, what would it be?
My advice would be what is your goal because that shouldn’t be something that limits you. I guess you’d have to know what you’re looking for out here because acting has so many different opportunities. Ask yourself, is your goal to be in theater, or television, or film. There’s so many outlets, and have a goal or else you’d be more goal oriented and have more specific jobs. Be very persistent because it pays off. It’s the most important thing.