Spotlight on Jen Jacob '07

When we dream, rarely do we dream about the road that needs to be traveled en route to reaching our goals; rather, we usually just dream about the destination.  Everyone wants to “make it,” but few realize the dangers and hazards that exist on that road.  For Jen Jacob ’07, her ride to landing roles in a hit show like HBO’s “Girls,” critically acclaimed movies such as Begin Again or her current Off-Broadway production The American Play, has been anything but smooth.  She’ll be the first to admit that she has not “made it” by any means, but her ability to handle such counteracting forces along with a commitment to stay well-rounded help drive her early success.
Promo Shot from The American Play.

Showtimes and Dates:
Sunday, August 16th at 7:15 p.m - Sold Out
Friday, August 21st at 4:45 p.m. - Sold Out
Tuesday, August 25th at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 27th at 7:00 p.m. -  Sold Out
Saturday, August 29th at 2:15 p.m. - Sold Out
When did you realize acting was something you might have a future in?
Freshman year at Hun was a turning point year for me.  At the time Julia Ohm was the drama teacher and she played a humongous part in me continuing into college and beyond, as did Mr. Bogad.  That year, Ms. Ohm took a leap of faith and gave me the opportunity to play the lead in Chess, which is a huge rock opera.  I think I sang fifteen songs – it was a ridiculous amount.  That was the moment where I thought, “This is something I could see myself doing.”

How has your experience in the theatre program at Hun helped during your professional experience?
We were always treated like professional actors - there was never a moment where we were treated like students.  The biggest turning point in my career came my sophomore year.  We were doing West Side Story and there were a couple of scenes that I was uncomfortable with.  Ms. Ohm approached me and said, “You need to decide whether you want to be a performer or an artist because the way that you’re acting makes it seems like you just want to be a performer.” She was making the distinction between getting on stage just for attention and applause versus actually getting into a character.  She was telling this to a fifteen year old.  Even now you see it with the new Global Commons building – Hun is not treating the students like they’re high school students; they’re treating them like professionals. The entire campus is being treated as a professional setting with professional learners exploring a bunch of different paths.

Ms. Jacob will be running in the NYC Marathon this fall, raising money for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research in honor of her sister Lindsay. 
After graduating from Hun, Ms. Jacob enrolled in the Tisch School at New York University, which boasts one of the top performing arts programs in the country. Before even stepping foot on campus Ms. Jacob was faced with the biggest challenge of her life.  That June her sister Lindsay, a beloved young alumna of the Hun School and Princeton University student, passed away at the age of twenty-one.  Lindsay Jacob ’04 was impossibly smart, funny, and tough. Today, there is a classroom at Hun named in her honor as well as a journalism prize given out at the end of each school year.      

After Lindsay’s passing, Ms. Jacob contemplated delaying her enrollment at NYU; however, instead of taking a semester off, she moved into the biggest city in the country to begin one of the most challenging programs in the world. 
Was there ever a point where you considered quitting acting all together?
My 4 years of college were amazing and therapeutic, but also really tough.  I wouldn’t change it for anything tough.  If I had been in any other field, I probably wouldn’t have made it because acting allows you to let things out and deal with some things emotionally.  It was a good combination that helped me get through it.
What was the first big role for you?
The first year out of college I did Begin Again.  It was a small part.  I remember the day my manager called me and told me I booked the role.  It was an awesome win because a lot of little parts like that don’t necessarily include you being in a scene with Keira Knightley and Adam Levine.  

    • "Begin Again"

      Jen Jacob '07 in "Begin Again," starring Kiera Knightly and Adam Levine.

After Begin Again, Ms. Jacob spent almost an entire year auditioning without landing anything in TV or film.  She eventually landed a role in another widely praised film, Top Five, written and directed by comedian Chris Rock. Then came her role in season four of HBO’s hit comedy “Girls.”  

Ms. Jacob first auditioned for the role of a young girl struggling with an eating disorder.  Having battled and overcome an eating disorder herself (Ms. Jacob now volunteers time to speak at schools sharing her story and how she handled this difficult time in her life), she figured the role was hers to lose.  She didn’t get it.  Shortly thereafter, she landed an audition for a different role on “Girls.”  This time, her manager confused the dates of the audition.  After a failed audition and a miscommunication, the casting department still held Ms. Jacob in such high regard that they asked her to audition one more time for an even more significant role.  Finally.  She nailed it.
Your experience so far is a great way for up-and-coming actors to learn about what actually goes into getting work in this field, don’t you think?

Absolutely.  I think there’s a conversation about drive and passion and hard work that gets confused with single mindedness. I really think some of the good things that have happened to me in this profession have to do with the fact that I don’t settle for this to be the only part of my life.  I spend time with friends, I run in marathons, I do charity work, and I’ve always had a day job. If you’re so focused on one thing and put all of your self worth into that one thing and it doesn’t deliver, it’s really easy to fall into depression.  Those are the people that wind up giving up on it.
Luckily for us, the thought of giving up is as far from Ms. Jacob’s mind as it can be.  It’s not in her nature, and it’s not in her blood.  It’s important to understand what she has gone through to get to a still infantile stage in her career.  What’s most important is to understand that more adversity will come.  But when it does, one would have to expect her to face it head-on like she always has. 
    • "Girls"

      Jen Jacob in HBO's "Girls."

The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school.  Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.

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