Her family confirmed Campbell died on Dec. 29 in Portland, Oregon.
According to Variety, Campbell retired from acting to become a naturopathic physician. On Dec. 29, she collapsed after seeing patients at her practice and was unable to be revived. At this time, her cause of death is still unknown.
Campbell forged a career in acting in the 1990s. She first appeared alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in the 1992 TV movie In The Best Interest Of The Children. However, Campbell got her big break in 1999 when she starred in the satire film Election with Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick.
In the film, she played Tammy Metzler, the sister of school jock Paul whose girlfriend leaves her to start seeing Paul. To get revenge, Campbell’s character runs against him for class president. Her performance in the 1999 movie went on to earn her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best debut performance.
Jessica Campbell as Tammy Metzler was one of the best parts of Election. A lot of people probably felt like her character this past year pic.twitter.com/r0blbWB8hr
— cx (@CalXtian) January 13, 2021
Campbell also starred alongside Seth Rogan and James Franco in Freaks and Geeks. She portrayed Amy Andrews, a tuba player in McKinley High’s marching band. Eventually, her character briefly dates Ken, played by Seth Rogan.
Following Freaks and Geeks, Campbell went on to star opposite Glenn Close in The Safety Of Objects. Campbell’s cousin Sarah Wessling has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for funeral costs and provide for Campbell’s son Oliver who is 10-years-old.
“A true adventurer in every sense of the word, Jessica packed a staggering amount of experiences into her tragically short lifetime,” Wessling says on the GoFundMe page. “She could always be counted on as the instigator of, or at the very least a willing accomplice to, various forms of mischief and hijinks. To know her is to have an over-the-top story involving her. To know her is to have known true friendship.”
Former colleagues, friends and fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to Campbell. Campbell’s Election co-star Reese Witherspoon penned an emotional tweet honoring her.
“So heart broken to hear this. Working with Jessica on Election was such a pleasure. I’m sending all my love to Jessica‘s family and loved ones.”
So heart broken to hear this. Working with Jessica on Election was such a pleasure. I’m sending all my love to Jessica‘s family and loved ones. https://t.co/xEt6bOwWqE
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) January 13, 2021
RIP Jessica Campbell, who gave us two truly iconic teen girl performances (!) in the same year (!!!) pic.twitter.com/ffLqLKmqn3
— emily (@emilygagne) January 13, 2021
Jessica Campbell starred in one of my favourite films, ELECTION, and one of my all time favourite TV shows, FREAKS & GEEKS, then left this Earth at just 38 years of age. How truly sad and unjust. #RIP
— Gønzø McNűlty ©™ (@Jerk_Burton) January 13, 2021
Just found out that Jessica Campbell, the actress who played Tammy Metzler in 1999’s Election (one of my favorite flicks), passed away. R.I.P.
— JD (@JimmyD86) January 13, 2021
Jessica Campbell’s portrayal in Election spoke to me. A queer anarchist who was above the bullshit and got what she wanted in the end. Tammy Metzler forever. pic.twitter.com/2y6rIB2FUb
— Nacho business (@136percentNick) January 13, 2021
Rest In Peace Jessica Campbell, You were awesome in Election & Freaks & Geeks, So young 😔 pic.twitter.com/fZfcxjlYpX
— 🖕🏻 (@jimmieXXX) January 13, 2021
Our thoughts go out to Jessica Campbell’s family during this time.