Filmmakers Jade Zaroff and Sarah Franco on Stories with Impact, Saving the Planet, and Self-aware Comedy

Evita sat down with the makers of the environmentalist comedy web series Jade & Jaded. Visit their website and follow them on socials @JadeandJaded. Listen to the full podcast interview “Stories with Impact” available now on all major podcast platforms.

When thinking back to their days studying musical theatre at a liberal arts college, Jade and Sarah aren’t entirely sure when they met. College party? Theatre? Somewhere in nature? Granted, it has been about eight years since then, and they, of course, at the time had no idea that they would be developing a web series together in the far away future. “Our paths absolutely diverged,” Sarah says, explaining how at some point after they met, she decided to stay in the studio. At the same time, Jade went embarked on to explore entrepreneurship in theatre – thus ending up in different programmes. It wasn’t until after they had both graduated from college that they reconnected. 

“Our first true collaboration was a mini, fifteen-minute musical of Legally Blonde,” Jade says as she reminisces on the blooming of their collaborative friendship outside of their musical theatre studies. With family lineage lingering on Broadway, theatre was what Jade was naturally drawn to – but with a head filled with art from a young age, she does feel that film has always been a part of her life she has looked at with curiosity. Beyond those creative outlets, Jade is also the founder of the non-profit organisation Entertainment for Change, a community for impact artists, i.e. creatives who intentionally and actively integrate the sustainability goals of the United Nations into their work. 

“This piece,” Jade says as she talks about their web series, “is an extension of myself and Sarah […] Working on this has been what impact art looks like to me — I just love it.”

Through the same team behind Jade & Jaded, Sarah is also working on another web series called Lockdown Living. With that, this, and her role as RBG’s ghost on the short series app Rizzle, it is safe to say that Sarah has always been very passionate about movies and television. To the point that she, at just seven/eight years old, bawled her eyes out when the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie came out. Why might you ask? “Because I wanted to be the one that wrote the Yu-Gi-Oh! Movie,” she laughs, “I didn’t realise I really wanted to work in screenwriting till I was older, but it has always been a part of my life.”

Jade (left) and Sarah (right). Courtesy of the Jade & Jaded team.

Together, they make the perfect team.

“I am such a floaty individual,” Jade says, “It has worked for the dynamic of the show,” she says as she explains how she feels Sarah by seeing her vision, takes her free-spirited ideas and grounds them. “We balance each other out.”

For Sarah, Jade has taught her the importance of slowing down and taking a moment before you approach things that come to you in life. “There’s no need to panic, there’s no need to not be present,” Sarah says, “just be there, and everything is gonna fall into place.”

As they speak about the things they have learned and value from their work and friendship, the Zoom call rings with love and pure support for one another. “I’m gonna cry!” Jade responds. No one could possibly doubt the passion and kindness they share.

It’s time to save the world, one follower at a time. JADE & JADED, a new web comedy, follows two eco-friendly millennials who abandon performance art to become “Green” lifestyle influencers. 
Spoiler alert: it’s not all yoga and tempeh.” (Watch the pilot episode here!)
Jade Zaroff, BTS. Courtesy of the Jade & Jaded team.

“I just showed up at her apartment in an Earth costume and was like [whispers] Sarah!” Jade jokes as they talk about how they each got into environmentalism. Sarah got it from Jade and Jade from her mother, who has been in the eco-space for decades. “My mom has been in sustainable fashion since I was little,” she says, “this was normalised for me at an early age. I have never eaten meat in my life, and as I said before, [I] had these spiritual elements of my life,” elements, she says, that have not been as nourished in the past five years, so seeing it evolve has been interesting for her.

The topic of environmentalism is most certainly not a subject they just picket out of a hat, Sarah adds; it’s coming organically from their passion. “We made this show because we care, not because we wanted a topic for the characters to care about,” she says.

For Jade, this series is also a way for her to express a deeper desire to make people care about the planet. She says that the climate, environmental, and general activist conversations can often be very stressful and overwhelming — so to create something with flawed characters trying their best, and make it humorous as well, was incredibly important for both of them. When you do it this way, she says it just isn’t as heavy a conversation, and you can enjoy the process of seeing what speaks to you without having it forced upon you. “You can just enjoy the entertainment for what it is and get what you get out of it,” Jade expands.

From their very first meeting, making environmentalism an approachable topic was a top priority for the two of them. “We used comedy to make it not-pushy, but also, we do poke fun at ourselves!” Sarah says. “It’s laughing at the joke before they can laugh at you,” Jade adds. It’s all a matter of perspective, and by changing the narrative to love for Mother Earth and having fun exploring it, you can offer a new one.

“Just talk about why you are passionate about something from an authentic and real place, and listen and respond to people,”

Jade Zaroff

Listen to the full inspiring and enlightening interview on all major podcast platforms (Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts, etc.) and follow Jade and Sarah on Instagram @JadeZaroff and @SarahFrancoNYC (she’s also on TikTok under the same tag), and of course, keep yourself updated on their show by following them on @JadeandJaded.

Written by Malin Evita

Evita is the host and producer of the podcast, Instagram curator, and a writer focused on script, cultural commentary, and film analysis. She is a Vocal grand prize winner and currently studies Professional Writing at college.

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