Jo Ellen Pellman: 5 Things To Know About The Breakout Star Of ‘The Prom’

Jo Ellen Pellman is the actress everyone is talking about. The newcomer stars in the new Netflix's movie 'The Prom,' and she is Hollywood's next big thing.

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It’s time to get on your feet and dance! Netflix’s The Prom is one of the most dazzling movies of the year. The film, based on the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, follows a group of theater stars who journey to a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl named Emma Nolan who wants to take her girlfriend to prom.

Newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman stars as Emma Nolan, and the 24-year-old holds her own in the delightful musical alongside Hollywood heavyweights. Jo Ellen is truly a special talent. But you might be asking, who is Jo Ellen Pellman? HollywoodLife has 5 key things you need to know.

Jo Ellen Pellman
Jo Ellen Pellman with Nicole Kidman in ‘The Prom.’ (Netflix)

1. Playing Emma in The Prom is her breakthrough role. Jo Ellen is starring alongside Hollywood greats Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and more in her first-ever film role. This performance is sure to catapult Jo Ellen to stardom. She was hand-picked by director Ryan Murphy to play Emma. When she was cast, Jo Ellen captioned a series of posts on Instagram.

“To this team that has welcomed me with open arms, to Ryan for trusting this lil queer actor from Ohio with the role of a lifetime, to my team in New York cheering me on, and to my mom, for believing in me when I was just learning to believe in myself: thank you,” she wrote.

The Prom
Jo Ellen Pellman with the rest of the cast of ‘The Prom.’ (Netflix)

2. But this is not her first time on camera. Before The Prom, Jo Ellen had minor one-episode roles in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Deuce, and The University.

3. Jo Ellen has an amazing voice. Jo Ellen has a number of amazing musical numbers in The Prom that show off her vocal skills. “Just Breathe,” “Tonight Belongs to You,” and “Unruly Heart” are among her notable musical numbers in the Netflix film.

4. Jo Ellen found out she was cast in The Prom while in a vintage clothing store. Someone even captured a photo of the moment! Jo Ellen had her hand to her mouth and looked beyond excited. Ryan wrote a lengthy post about why Jo Ellen and her co-star, Ariana Debose, were the perfect actors to play Emma and Alyssa.

“They are both out and proud queer young women who saw THE PROM on Broadway and were so moved by the LGTBQ love story told with joy and optimism,” he wrote on Instagram. “Jo Ellen and Ariana are the perfect ambassadors to tell this story and I’m certain they will be role models and beacons of hope for so many kids all over the world who feel they are alone and don’t have communities of their own. Ariana and Jo are so committed to helping young LGBTQ people that they came up with an idea to start an outreach group — The Unruly Hearts Initiative — to create an umbrella for LGBTQ advocacy and assistance. I instantly loved their idea and so did Netflix, so we’re going to support them in their activism, financially and emotionally. More to come on this, but I love Jo and Ariana’s dedication to the idea that The Prom can be something more than a movie…it can be a movement and a path forward for so many kids around the world who need to be supported, loved and seen.”

5. She’s a college graduate! Jo Ellen went to the University of Michigan and graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre and a minor in Creative Writing. She also studied Shakespeare at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.

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