There are breakout roles, and then there’s Jo Ellen Pellman in The Prom. A relative newcomer, Pellman was hand-selected by Ryan Murphy to star in his adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical, which follows a group of washed-up theatre actors as they travel to Indiana to help a gay teen who’s queerness has caused her high school to cancel the prom. Pellman plays the aforementioned gay teen, Ellen, and co-stars with Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Andrew Rannells, and Meryl Streep. Casual first gig, huh?
The film is set to be released on Netflix on Friday, December 11th, and early reviews are already praising Pellman’s performance. The Guardian likened her a “young Elisabeth Moss” and Vanity Fair said she was the best part of the movie—which can only mean one thing: star status beckons. Fashion designers certainly seem to think so. Despite being a newbie with less than five film credits to her name, Pellman’s press tour has seen her decked out in new-season Dior and Valentino. She wore a full look from the former’s autumn winter ’20 show during a virtual press event earlier this week (above), and an oversized Valentino blazer/tights ensemble for another press event the week before.
So, what else do we know about Jo Ellen Pellman? Well, she’s a tried-and-true theatre kid. According to Playbill, she studied musical theatre at the University of Michigan, and Shakespeare at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. And she’s also cropped up in some quality TV, including episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and the HBO series The Deuce.
She’s also queer. Which is worth noting simply because James Corden is receiving blistering blowback and accusations of “gayface” for his performance in the film. Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson said Corden’s cliche-riddled performance was so offensive that it convinced him that from now on gay actors should always play gay parts. “In a cast full of talented queer actors in the younger parts, it’s a massive problem to have Corden in gayface front and centre,” writes The Telegraph.
Corden controversy aside, we’re excited to watch Pellman’s rising star continue to rise.