Jenna Galloway played by Shamilla Miller
Jenna Galloway is the golden girl of St Agnes, always getting top marks and excelling at sport. But Jenna’s perfection comes at a price.
In Showmax Original The Girl From St Agnes, the staff and students of a private girls’ school in the Midlands are torn apart by the mysterious death of popular student Lexi Summerveld. As the facts start to emerge, it seems like everyone has something to hide.
Jenna Galloway is the golden girl of St Agnes, always getting top marks and excelling at sport. The daughter of a black mother and white father, she’s always felt like an outsider and she pushes herself hard to get to the top. She’s determined to prove that she’s the perfect child of the perfect relationship, and prove anyone who’s ever sneered at her mother wrong.
But Jenna’s perfection comes at a price. She suffers from terrible anxiety, and the only person who can calm her down is Lexi. They’re best friends, and Lexi even manages to convince Jenna to let her hair down and come to one of the Claytons’ famous Barn Parties. But it’s there that their friendship takes a turn down a darker road …
About the actress
Shamilla made her name in the Cape Town-set surfing drama Amaza. She narrowly missed a win in Top Actor Africa 2016, and has been in several other local productions, including Isidingo, and the international series Troy: Fall Of a City.
She was also offered the lead in surprise hit Nommer 37, after starring in the short film that inspired the feature. “Unfortunately they were shooting the movie over the month of April and I had gotten the role in Troy at the same time. I didn’t know what to do. It was a small part in Troy versus the lead in Nommer 37. My heart kept saying I should do Nommer 37, but on the other side I had agents and actors saying, ‘Do Troy, it’s an international series.’ […] I went to watch the feature film and it’s brilliant, but I was crying the whole time because I was so depressed. It’s showing everywhere in the world so everytime I see a newspaper article it’s like a stab in the heart. It was a very, very hard lesson.”
Shamilla was thrilled to land the role of Jenna. “I got really excited after I got the role and I read the script. We did a table read – all eight episodes in one sitting with all the characters – and in every episode jaws dropped. Who is the killer? None of us could figure it out. We were all giddy in the room – the scripts were good and it was coming to life and we were all very, very excited.”
She says she finds it easy to relate to her character, whom she describes as “the Miss Perfect of the school”.
“I’m a Virgo so I do relate to the anxiety part of it. I used to get panic attacks when I was in high school, so I relate to the pressures of high school and the anxiety that would give. Being this character has brought out certain things in my personality that I didn’t know were there – like my perfectionism. Sometimes I bring Jenna home with me and feel a lot more Virgo.”
As a former pupil at Hottentots Holland High School near Somerset West in the Cape, Shamilla couldn’t really relate to the bullying and events depicted in the show. “There were groups of people but everyone kind of kept to themselves within their cliques. There wasn’t really drama or fighting that I was aware of,” she says. “But the teenage girl things – the way they were there for each other and also the way they fight – I resonated with that.”