Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Actor Profile: Jenna Lea Scott

Jenna Lea Scott is performing as Tracy Turnblad in the WFT production of  HAIRSPRAY
Jenna is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and has appeared at Wheelock Family Theatre in Peter Pan, Seussical, Honk, Annie, Phantom Tollbooth and Anne Of Green Gables.
"Auditioning is a hard but necessary part of being a working actor. I have found that the casting process can be particularly trying as an Asian American actress. It’s challenging to prove to casting directors that you aren't just your race. A play that requires an Asian actor may offer me a foot in the door, but I am often asked to portray a stereotype. Landing a role as a member of a family that is not Asian is even more difficult. WFT has been the only venue where I’ve been afforded opportunities to play a range of roles, based on my abilities not my race. Perhaps it’s because some people feel that family members need to resemble one another. Interestingly, this is not the case in my own family where my sister and I were adopted from South Korea by Caucasian parents. My older brother is adopted, too, though he's originally from the U.S. As a child on vacation with my family I can remember being asked if I was a foreign exchange student. Happily, the definition of family is ever-widening and I am encountering more and more acceptance that a family can be comprised of people who vary in a multitude of ways.
My reaction to being cast as Tracy Turnblad at WFT was like one of Tracy's lines in the show...'Ohmigod, it's a dream of a lifetime. I have to [play this part]!' I grew up loving '50s and '60s music, fashion and styles and saw the original film version of Hairspray with Ricky Lake as a kid. It really spoke to me as a girl who was just a little different trying to change the world around her while staying true to herself. I have that same feeling every time I’m cast in a role that's not traditionally Asian. As with Tracy’s desire to be on the Corny Collin's Show, I want to demonstrate to the world that art has the capacity to transform lives. I believe that the theatre world is changing with more new writers creating diverse roles and theatres like WFT championing non-traditional, or 'colorful' casting. Among my reasons for pursuing an acting career was a desire to see myself represented on the stage and inspiring others to do what they love. I’m glad I can pursue these goals at WFT."

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