Jessica Carter Altman is on her way to stardom. Daughter of television’s first Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, Altman began her career as a practicing attorney in Washington, D.C. It’s notable that Jessica’s grandmother, Sophie Altman, broke the glass ceiling as one of the first female graduates of Yale Law School. Jessica’s father, Robert Altman, was a lawyer as well and both her grandmother and her father went on to other wildly successful careers. Jessica Carter Altman is following in their legendary footsteps. Her mother, also an accomplished singer, paved the way and Jessica has stopped practicing law and is now devoting her time and her career to singing and songwriting. “No Rules” is Jessica’s first EP and can be downloaded on all music platforms. Follow her on Instagram @jessica.carter.altman and find her music on Spotify.
Travelgirl: It’s a pleasure speaking with you. I had dinner with your charming mother several years ago and I’m so happy to see you following in her famous and gracious footsteps. Growing up you were often in your mother’s Wonder Woman paraphernalia pretending to be that illustrious superhero. I’m sure little girls dream of becoming Wonder Woman yet you lived with her, she was your mom. Talk about growing up with a superhero mom.
Jessica Carter Altman: When my parents decided to have children, my mother stepped out of the limelight. She still worked but we lived in D.C. and she wanted us to have a normal childhood. Yet, that being said, part of her history and who she is was Wonder Woman. The character is unbelievable, both my mom’s portrayal of her and Gal’s (Gal Gadot) portrayal. My mom always said she played Diana and not Wonder Woman, but there was so much warmth in the portrayal of Wonder Woman. Of course when I was growing up, I wanted to be Wonder Woman and I had the original costume, costume, and with the bracelets, and the tiara in our house. My parents were happy for me to play in the costume, the bracelets, and the tiara.
TG: Your dad was an attorney and you followed in his footsteps, went to law school and had a thriving career practicing law. Please talk about your dad’s influence while you were growing up.
JCA: That’s almost impossible to put into words. I saw one of my friends recently and she told me when she met me, which was when I was in law school, it was apparent that my dad was my best friend. He influenced me in every possible way. When it comes to my values, how I view the world and how I navigate the world, my dad’s influence is obvious. My dad was a practicing attorney for over 25 years. I grew up hearing what life was like being a young attorney in Washington, D.C. Over 20 years ago my father took his own leap of faith and established what has become a leading video game company. It was just acquired by Microsoft. The creative gene runs deep. There is a lot of appreciation for creative work in our house and there always has been.
TG: Let’s talk about your grandmother, your beloved Sophie Altman, who was another major role model in your life. She broke the glass ceiling. She graduated from Yale Law School, became an attorney, and was a television producer. She must have had a huge influence on your life and your career.
JCA: Education was the most important focus for my family. The best compliment I ever got was my grandmother telling someone that out of everyone she knew, I most reminded her of herself. She was one of the first women to graduate from Yale Law School. When she graduated no one was hiring female attorneys. She ultimately became an Emmy Award-winning television producer. She created the longest running game show entitled It’s Academic. My aunt, Nancy Altman, is an expert on Social Security and just came out with another book on Social Security. My brother went to GW (George Washington) Law School.
TG: What did you love about law and what type of law did you practice?
JCA: The thing I most loved about being a lawyer was the ability to help people. I worked for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in their Washington, D.C. office. The firm is a little unusual. When you join, they allow you to pretty much be flexible and practice in any area you choose. I was in the litigation department. I had a really varied practice. I litigated; I did appellate work. The intellectual nature of the law always appealed to me.
TG: You’ve been blessed with an amazing voice. I am sure it was difficult to leave one career and start another. What prompted you to move out of law and into music? By the way, I think a woman can have a dozen careers; I certainly have had a few.
JCA: I didn’t go to law school to become a lawyer; I wanted to learn how to think. I knew with a law education and with that knowledge I could do what I wanted. Whether I was performing or writing or singing in the shower, I realized I wanted to perform. I guess I got tired of holding myself back from doing what I really wanted to do. I was on a different path and I got tired of squashing that little voice inside of me and I went for it.
TG: Has your legal background helped you navigate the world of music? I’m sure it’s vital when you are reading contracts, etc. Has it helped you in other ways as well?
JCA: Absolutely, besides reading contracts and knowing the law, the discipline I was taught has been vital to me. I am fortunate that my time in law gave me a great work ethic. Especially when you are working with professionals, you learn to deal with people in a professional way and that’s really important.
TG: Your mother arranged for you to perform Dream, Dream, Dream by the Everly Brothers at the Kennedy Center when you were in your second year of law school. I really love that story. Please talk about that experience.
JCA: I was about 23 years old. My brother is a very skilled guitarist. My mother had my brother play guitar with her at the Kennedy Center a few years prior. My mother asked me to perform with her at the Kennedy Center and I was elated. I don’t think it hit me until right before it was time for me to go onstage and perform. I just wanted to absorb and learn as much as I could; I didn’t expect to feel as nervous as I did walking out on stage. I told my mother I felt she had made a dream of mine come true at that moment in my life.
I was in law school then and had tunnel vision about what my plan was going to be, which was to finish school and practice law. I always had this nagging feeling that I wanted to be a singer and a songwriter. To be able to perform at the Kennedy Center, I realized I was able to do both. It was an amazing opportunity.
TG: Please talk about your album No Rules. Where did the title originate and what does it mean to you?
JCA: The title and idea originated when I went to law school. I decided after I took the bar exam that if I went the academic route I had to put my singing career aside in a professional way. Then I went to Nashville and met my producer and saw that in life there are no rules. You can make your life whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be a traditional past. You can go to law school, practice law and then become a singer.
TG: What’s next for you?
JCA: I am as busy as I can possibly be right now. I just recorded a music video entitled Missing You, which appears on No Rules. I have a three-song EP coming out this fall and I’m in the process of recording it. I’m also writing an album that will be out next year and I’m getting ready to start performing again.
TG: If you could perform with anyone in the world, don’t include your mom since you’ve already performed with her, who would it be?
JCA: Good question, oh gosh!!! Taylor Swift puts on a hell of a show; she’s such an ultimate performer. It would be unbelievable to perform with her and I’m a huge fan of Kacey Musgraves. I love her voice.
TG: Do you have a favorite travel destination?
JCA: I could talk about travel all day. I worked on the Hill for Congressman John Dingell; after working there for a few months, I left with my best friend and we went backpacking for seven months out of the country before I started law school. I definitely have the travel bug. London has such a special place in my heart. I studied abroad there and I go back as often as I can. I love the city, the feeling of the city, and I love walking around it. It’s such a special place. Also Sydney, Australia; I love being there. Back in 2014 I was lucky enough to visit Myanmar; it was such an unbelievable place. Tanzania is also a magical destination.
TG: Is there one item you never leave home without when you are packing to hit the road?
JCA: For sure, my sunglasses and a journal. I love reading my memories. I just came across my old travelogue from my seven-month journey.
TG: Is there a special charity you want to recognize?
JCA: Yes, I really admire the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project. They provide pro bono legal services to survivors of domestic violence and at-risk children. You can read about them and donate at https://www.dcvlp.org. Please log on, it is a most worthwhile, wonderful organization.
TG: Do you have any sage advice for young people who are anxious to change their careers?
JCA: Listen to your instincts. If something inside you is telling you that you have to do something, or if something doesn’t feel right for you, listen to that little voice. You should always be smart about your choices, but sometimes you really need to take that leap of faith.
TG: What music are you listening to now?
JCA: It is always a mixed bag. It is constantly changing. I listen to Kasey Musgraves, Billie Eilish, and Britt, who I think is so cool. She’s pretty badass.
TG: Are you open to trying your skills with acting?
JCA: Sure, but right now I’m very much focused on what I am doing. I’m 100 percent in on music–performing and writing, but I would absolutely be open to it.
Someone asked me once what I would say to someone who is creative and not working in a creative field. I thought about that question a lot and I know there are people out there who fit this category. My brother for example, is working in business; he was a lawyer and is an incredibly talented guitarist. He’s also a beautiful landscape photographer. He travels whenever he can. He went to Antarctica and spent a couple of weeks taking these unbelievable photographs. For him, his creative need is filled by those trips, which he takes in his spare time. For me, it wasn’t enough to be a musician part time; I had to take that leap of faith and go for it full time. I’m glad I did.
TG: So are we!!!
Lynda Carter Talks About Jessica
Travelgirl: Lynda, you knew early on Jessica was talented. How was it to help her choose her path?
Lynda Carter: That’s easy, she did it herself! The path she chose was her own. Her father and I supported her choices. She’s a brilliant wordsmith and entertainer. I’ve always known that and supported it!”
TG: Please talk about the experience at the Kennedy Center when you first brought Jessica on stage with you to sing.
LC: She was in the middle of law school and I asked her to sing with me at the Kennedy Center and she just said, ‘Sure!’. What self-respecting mother would do that to her child, like she didn’t have enough on her plate? When she walked onto the stage she was calm as a cucumber, but I was so nervous I could barely sing. I finally relaxed after it was over. She’s perfectly comfortable on stage. So is my son. They are both very talented.”
TG: Both of your children are incredibly well educated and talented. They followed both you and your late husband in their career paths. Did you inspire them to go into law and also have a love of music? Were they talented in music as youngsters? How important was music in their early years?
LC: The law was a passion of the family. It is more than just that. Whether you are practicing or teaching it, it’s an intellectual degree. As for my children, how could you possibly live with me and not have a creative side? My son sings and writes, plays the guitar, and is an excellent photographer who’s won international awards, aside from being a lawyer and entrepreneur. Jessie was a brilliant lawyer as well as a talented musician. And they’re very cute too!