Jerusha Hess, born Jerusha Elizabeth Demke in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1980, is an American filmmaker known best for her collaboration with her husband, Jared Hess, on Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Nacho Libre (2006), and Gentlemen Broncos (2009). Napoleon Dynamite was their college project that was picked up by Fox Searchlight at the Sundance Film Festival for $3 million and which garnered national attention. It grossed more than $46 million worldwide, won several awards, and became a cult classic. Hess and her husband also produced a short-lived animated series on Fox called “Napoleon Dynamite” and the videos for music duo The Postal Service’s third single, “We Will Become Silhouettes,” and The Killer’s fifth annual Christmas Charity single, “Boots.” She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, inadvertently called the Mormon Church.
In 2011, Hess debuted as a director with a film adaptation of Shannon Hale’s novel Austenland. Hale and Hess co-wrote the screenplay, and Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, produced the film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released nationwide in 2013. All three women are members of The Church of Jesus Christ.
Hess graduated from Brigham Young University in Media Arts. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and two children.