Meet Chicago-based multi-hyphenate, Jennifer Karum, Actress, Writer, Producer, Director, and neuro-diverse on the Autism Spectrum. Jennifer co-founded Lakefront Pictures, with Director of Photography Ryan Atkins. Their production company specifically produces narrative and commercial content for their projects and other creators, which serves as an outlet to amplify unheard voices and elevate stories normally untold. The production company launched thanks to their creation of CONRAD SERIES, where Jennifer was cast as the lead and she built a team to bring the show to life all the way through distribution. With the success of the series, it ignited interest from Harry Lennix and Eric Roberts; two actors Jennifer was yearning to work with. Jennifer offered to expand the Conrad concept and has been pitching it, having meetings with big networks like Netflix, Lifetime, Apple+ just to name a few.
At an early age, Jennifer always loved singing and dancing. Growing up, it became her motivation to jump-start her acting career, and she became involved in several theatrical and production projects, while focusing on her education, maintaining a sustainable job and intensive therapy to help her learn coping mechanisms with her autism, along with daily skills. Having graduated college was a big triumph as leading to college wasn’t easy. Having been ridiculed for behaviors that were considered abnormal, and being very intense in her relationships made it hard for her. But she continued excelling and learning ways to channel her energy into passions.
When she graduated college, she moved back to Chicago to work in Business Development and Account Management in Sales. She leveraged this opportunity to understand the ins and outs of businesses and marketing initiatives, including outreach, strategic planning, and organization.
Before getting to where she is now with Lakefront Pictures, Jennifer encountered many obstacles. Medical professionals relayed information to her family that she would never make it in society due to her lack of communication skills, emotional stability, and inability to respond to non-verbal cues. Jennifer struggled to find a sense of self, as she constantly felt she needed to fit the mold society set for her. Thanks to her experience in Business Development and Account Management in Sales, she realized she could take those skills in an environment in which she could excel. Jennifer quickly learned after auditioning for a small role, she could take her skills into producing because of how similar it was to do so. After being cast as a lead in a small project by another colleague, she offered to expand his script, and thus, she materialized her business by organizing her team along with the co-founder. It was not an easy feat, and there were many hurdles along the way and growing pains. Despite the trials and tribulations, Jennifer continued her career in acting, signed with two agents, is now producing and writing tons of content, having launched Conrad her crime drama tv series, and by pushing through the physical and emotional boundaries that tied directly to her autism, she’s always remembering that the outcomes of her successes, far outweigh the challenges.
“Be patient, trust the process, and give yourself a break. It’s not easy but the opportunities are vast and success makes it worth the while. Make sure to do your own research. Know what’s necessary for starting a business, build a team and trust your team.”
Now Jennifer and Ryan are working with network writers and their teams to garner more attention and amplify The Conrad Series by bringing more elements into the script that audiences can relate to.
Furthermore, through Lakefront Productions, Jennifer also produced several short films that won Festival awards. Thanks to her production’s accolades, and all the upcoming projects being produced, Jennifer and Ryan decided to monetize the company. Now they have a production-grade cinema camera “The Red Epic Dragon 6K” and will be creating actor demo reels while writing them and tailoring them to actor needs and producing content for others and themselves.