On August 12, 2015, atombash.com was on the scene for the New York premiere of Fox Searchlight’s “Mistress America” at Landmark Sunshine theater. An after-party followed at the Top Of The Standard. The film is now playing. Director and co-writer Noah Baumbach was in attendance. The hilarious film, tells the story of soon to be step sisters Brooke (Greta Gerwig) and Tracy (Lola Kirke). They are both trying to make it in the big apple. Tracy arrives in New York to attend Columbia University. She is an aspiring writer. After confiding that she is having trouble making friends, her mom suggests that she call Brooke (the daughter of the man she is engaged to). An entertaining adventure ensues. Actress Jasmine Cephas Jones plays Tracy’s Columbia classmate. She is paranoid that Tracy is trying to steal her boyfriend. Jones does a stellar job in the film. Jones also stars in the hit Broadway hip-hop musical “Hamilton.” It’s nearly impossible to get tickets, but definitely the must see theater event of this year. She plays Hamilton’s (Lin-Manuel Miranda) sister-in-law Peggy Schuyler in the first act and his mistress Maria Reynolds in the second act. Jasmine is a Brooklynite who studied at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts, Berklee College of Music and Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. She looked chic in Ted Baker at the premiere. She discussed working with Noah and Greta on “Mistress America” and being apart of the historic Broadway show “Hamilton” in our exclusive interview below:
Shaina Moskowitz: Talk about the role you play in this film.
Jasmine Cephas Jones: I play Nicolette who is the girlfriend of Tony. She’s very paranoid. She’s always afraid that her boyfriend’s going to cheat on her. She’s constantly being put in situations where she’s not welcome because she’s so paranoid. It kind of sucks for her that she has to live her life like that. But, she ends up going on this huge journey, with Tracy and Brooke and Tony, that has nothing to do with her. She was very fun to play, she’s very blunt. She’s doesn’t really care who’s around, she says what’s on her mind. She has an attitude, which I’m from Brooklyn, it comes out sometimes.
SM: Can you speak about working with Noah?
JCJ: Working with Noah and Greta, both of them together, they’re such a force. You can tell they really have this idea of what they want but they’re also very open to your ideas and open to improv, which is great. I thought that was really fun. What was really amazing was seeing them work through the ideas that they already had on set and while we were doing the scene and being like, “Let’s try this! Or like this. What do you think about this?” Seeing their minds going back and forth and working with us, I thought that was really cool.
SM: Speak about working with Lola.
JCJ: Oh, Lola. Lola’s hilarious. She’s so funny. She’s very down-to-earth and this was her first big film, too. She’s the lead girl in it and she plays it beautifully. She’s very genuine and she plays everything very truthfully, which I love.
SM: You’re also in a little musical called “Hamilton.” Talk about how you first got involved with that project.
JCJ: I was actually one of the last people to come on board. There were people that had been workshopping this thing for two years. They needed an actor for the Peggy Schuyler / Maria Reynolds role and I was just walked up in and I was like, “Hello, this is who I am.” I did about three auditions, in the audition I did it for like 40 minutes, it was a very long audition. I just did it in my audition.
SM: Do you have a show tonight?
JCJ: I just did a matinee today. I’m off for tonight but I did the matinee and I changed, did my hair and makeup and came here.
SM: Can you speak about the two characters you play in “Hamilton”?
JCJ: I pay Peggy Schuyler, she’s the youngest of the three Schuyler sisters. Eliza Schuyler ends up marrying Alexander Hamilton. She’s a very joyful, curious girl who loves her sisters so much. I end up playing in the second act Maria Reynolds, who is the mistress, which is so much fun because I get to fall to the ground and be dramatic and belt, be a sexy woman. It’s two completely different characters, which is great.
SM: Can you speak about working with Lin-Manuel and what that has been like?
JCJ: It’s been a ball, it’s been amazing. What’s crazy about him is that he is a genius. What’s so cool is that he’s doing so many things but at the end of the day, he’s always so focused with you on stage. I’m like, “How can you do a three hour show that you wrote and be amazing as Hamilton and then go off and do all of the five million things that you have to do?” He’s good … putting everything in order. “I have to do this and now I have to do this. Now I have to do this.” There’s just so much that he does. It’s to be able to be focused and present in all those things.
SM: This show has been such a smash. Why do you think it has resonated so strongly with audiences of all ages, everywhere?
JCJ: There’s nothing that’s been done like this ever before. We had every single genre of music in this musical and it’s about Alexander Hamilton and you have a multicultural cast in it, rapping and singing. It’s never been done before. What’s the amazing thing is that you have these old people that come out crying or speechless and was like, “I’ve never heard hip hop in my life.” Or, “I’ve heard hip hop and I hated it but this was absolutely amazing.” The fact that it can touch people, all different colors, ages, sizes, you name it, means it’s pretty amazing.
SM: You get to collaborate with The Roots for the soundtrack?
JCJ: We’re about to start our cast album … I’m so excited, are you kidding me? It’s amazing. They’re legends.
SM: The president came to your show. What was that like?
JCJ: I had to pinch myself and be like, “Is this really happening?” The coolest thing about it was he was just a dad with his two daughters going to see a play and hanging out. Obviously, he’s the president, but you just saw that he was also a regular person just trying to enjoy himself with his two awesome daughters.