Not all artistic people are merely artistic. Some are multi-faceted in their abilities. Leonardo da Vinci was an inventor and artist. Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr co-invented a radio frequency hopping protocol during the Second World War, which is still in use today.
ActressScientistWriter Jenn Robinson, while relatively new to the acting business, is an example of an artist who uses her analytic skills (read her science writing here) not only in her day job, but in preparation for her theatrical roles as well. Jenn stopped by this space to tell us how she does what she does.
Q – How did you go from Physics to acting?
A – I’m still in physics! But I’ve been acting since grade school and did 7 shows during my four years as a physics major in college, as well as a few student films. I took a break from theater while getting my PhD, but always planned to try out for community theater. A little over a year ago, I took the plunge and went to some auditions and got my first local role inHabeas Corpus at Greenbelt Arts Center. The friendships I made in that show have served me well moving forward in my fledgling community theater career.
Q – What’s been your favorite role so far?
A – As much as I’ve loved all the roles I’ve played so far, my favorite local role so far was in a one-act play in the Silver Spring Stage One-Act Festival last year. I played Julie, a recent graduate who ends up on a blind date with a mysterious reclusive billionaire named Bruce Wayne. The show was so clever in how it presented everything from her point of view, and the chemistry with the actress who played my roommate (Juliana Ejedoghaobi), the guy who played Bruce (my longtime friend Ricky O’Steen), and the director (Jennifer Harvey) was amazing.
Q – What actors inspire you?
A – My inspiration comes from working with actors who are obviously above me in talent, driving me to work harder and deliver a fantastic performance for them. Every show I’ve been in so far has had at least a couple actors who are so talented and work so hard that I feel like I have to do my very best to be worthy of sharing the stage with them.
Q – Where have you trained?
A – I trained in middle school and high school at the Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts. But after that, the only acting training I’ve had is from being in shows. That said, I’ve taken some physical training in dance, stage combat, and the Alexander Technique.
Q – How do you prepare for a role?
A – Physicality is a huge part of how I craft a character. I usually do a little writing about what the character wants, her relationships, and her history. Then, I play around with voice and how she would carry herself physically. Connie, for example, morphs from a mousy spinster into a buxom hottie, and I was able to convey a lot of that with how I held my shoulder and hands. Victoria, on the other hand, is supposed to be a trained dancer, so everything she does, whether she’s improvising a dance, strangling a fellow, or falling down drunk, has to be done with the intense body awareness of a dancer.
Q – Any plans to do more (or any) film?
A – I’ve done some film in the past, and I just finished filming some sketches for a friend of mine, Valerie Mickles. I enjoy the unique challenges of film and would certainly jump at the chance to do more, though I don’t have any specific plans.
Q – What’s next?
A – Right now, I’m taking a much-needed break after over a year straight of back-to-back roles. I’ve been cast in a podcast called Silver Spring Inquiries, but the recording schedule is far from strenuous, so I expect a light summer in terms of acting, and plenty of relaxation and maybe some new dance classes. Next season, there are shows all over the DC area community theater scene that interest me, so hopefully I’ll have another busy year.
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Remember to do something for your career every day and break a leg!