This is the story of a real life fairy tale, where a Midwestern student traveled to distant lands and conquered very tall odds to land a big recurring role on NBC’s Grimm.
Last month, Jacqueline Toboni was a University of Michigan senior when Grimm executive producer Jim Kouf came to speak to her screenwriting class. The purpose of his trip wasn’t to scout talent — Kouf’s daughter attends the university. But after doing a table read with some of the students, a few of the performers really stood out. Kouf told them he had a major Grimm role coming up for a young female character named “Trubel” (pronounced “Trouble”) and that if anybody wanted to read for the part to see what a audition process was like, they were welcome to try.
The 22-year-old Toboni had studied drama at the Young Conservatory at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, but had no professional movie or TV experience. Her taped reading stunned Kouf.
“This was one of those serendipitous moments where we walked into a college classroom to talk about television and walked out with a star,” Kouf and fellow executive producer said in a statement. “Although it’s most likely the rarest of casting calls, it definitely fits with Grimm — it’s a fairy tale within a fairy tale.”
The producers then had to convince NBC executives and the show’s production company Hazy Mills. Toboni flew to Los Angeles to read for the part again, and then to test with star David Giuntoli in Portland. “When David and Jim called to say how excited they were to show us this girl they found on a college campus to play Trubel we thought, ‘Oh, no. They’re looking on a college campus? This can’t be good,'” said actor-producer Sean Hayes, co-head of Hazy Mills. “And then in walked Jacqueline. It was one of those rare moments in this business where you actually believed you were witnessing the birth of a gigantic star. We are beyond thrilled to expose her talent to everyone via our Grimm world.”
The recurring role is Teresa “Trubel” Rubel. She’s described as “tough, savvy and pretty crazy when we first meet her. Trubel can fight, she can hold her own and will make you sorry you ever crossed her path. She’s been in and out of trouble since she was 12. But despite all that’s going on with her, she is remarkably strong, she just doesn’t know what her mission is yet.”
Needless to say, Toboni is pretty thrilled. “As an actor, you think you will be waiting for this moment your entire career, and then someone walks into your classroom the next day and gives you the opportunity to make that dream a reality,” Toboni says. “That’s what it’s been, an absolute dream come true. I’m so lucky to be able to work with such talented, gracious people who have welcomed me into this fantastic series and loving family. I’m overjoyed to be the newest #Grimmster!”
Though she left school to work on Grimm she’s expected to graduate with her class this spring. Her bio notes she will receive the The Earl V. Moore Award in Theatre for outstanding achievement in the dramatic arts but, obviously, a role on a major network show trumps pretty much any university’s acting prize. Toboni’s Twitter handle is @jtaboner if you want to say hello. She currently has 366 followers. Somehow we suspect her following is about to increase.