Five years after she watched her one-time baby sitter, Ruth Zakarian win the Miss Teen USA Pageant, today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant almost duplicated the feat, finishing first runner-up in the 1988 version of the same event. Born in Schenectady, NY on April 1, 1971, Jessica Capogna moved to Amsterdam as a young girl and grew up with her mom Eileen, on Bunn Street.
Like Zakarian, Capogna had captured the Miss New York State Teen title in June of 1988, after completing her junior year at Amsterdam High School. She then travelled to San Bernardino, California the following month to compete (as Jessica “Collins”) against the most beautiful teens from around the country. Just about everyone in her hometown was glued to their TV’s during the nationally televised pageant. Thanks to live on screen scoring results, we all knew this beautiful young lady was one of the judges’ favorites that evening, as she received the highest scores in a number of the categories including both the bathing suit and personal interview segments. But in the end, she was somehow edged out for the title and the $150,000 worth of prizes that went along with it by Miss Oregon.
She then returned to Amsterdam, where she completed her senior year at AHS and served as captain of the school’s majorette corps. From there it was off to acting schools in London and Los Angeles, followed by a long successful acting career during which she again used her “Jessica Collins” stage name.
Her acting credits included the role of Dinah Lee Mayberry in ABC’s “Loving” from 1991 to ’94, the role of Meredith Davies on Fox Network’s supernatural TV series, “True Calling” from 2002 to 2004, and a return to the Soaps in 2011 in the role of Avery Bailey Clark on CBS’s “The Young and the Restless” for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2013.
She made her big screen debut in the 1994 horror film “Leprechaun 4: In Space.” She was also one of the airline stewardesses Leonardo DiCaprio duped in the Stephen Spielberg film, “Catch me If You Can.”
Collins left her role in “The Young and the Restless” in 2015 to have her first child, a baby girl named Jemma Kate. She also went back to school and earned her degree in culinary arts. She currently lives in California with her daughter and husband, writer Michael Cooney. It was just announced in February 2019 that Collins will be appearing in the upcoming Netflix anthology series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, in an episode entitled “Cracker Jack” .
Jessica shares her April 1 birthday with this former Amsterdam Recorder columnist/reporter and historian.