The Working APA Actor is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander American actors in the entertainment world, whether it be theater, film, television, or commercials. It is an inside look at these actors exploring their passion in their craft and how they balance their personal lives with their work. But more importantly, this column is dedicated to knowing these busy actors a little better as individuals.
It’s been a minute since the last interview but we’re back! For this week’s edition of The Working APA Actor, we have an incredible lady, Jennifer Jajeh, who just moved to Los Angeles a few months ago from the Bay area. I was referred to this actor and performing artist by a friend of mine who told me that she was performing her solo performing show I Heart Hamas And Other Things I’m Afraid To Tell You. Say what now?? She loves what?? WHAT DOES IT MEAN? I had to find out who this woman was.
One of the really awesome things about Jennifer is that she coincided her move to Los Angeles while also opening her I Heart Hamas show without really knowing anyone here or settling in first. But in the three weeks that it has been playing, her shows have been consistently selling out and due to overwhelming demand, it has been extended through March 19th. Yowza! That’s some hot stuff. I got a chance to see it during the opening weekend and I can honestly say, this actress knows how to tell a damn good story. The show’s extended run comes as no surprise because it is clear people want to know what this story is all about.
Tell us about yourself! What are you most passionate about in this world?
I’m a sucker for a good story and am really interested in what makes people tick, getting under the hood so to speak. The choices people make are endlessly fascinating to me and I’m interested in exploring them in creative ways.
When you’re not acting, what else do you like to do?
Over the past few years, I’ve been so busy producing and promoting my own projects, there hasn’t been much time for anything else. But when I do carve out time, I like trying things I’ve never done before. Trapeze was the last amazing thing I did.
When did you know for sure you wanted to be an actor? What inspired you to become an actor?
As a kid I saw the movie Grease and knew I wanted to be doing this. Dorky, but true.
What has been your most memorable experience as an actor?
Touring the country for the last 3 years with my solo show has been pretty epic. The reactions from people right after the show are priceless, often moving or challenging but they make it so worthwhile.
When it comes to auditions, what has been your most awkward/fail one you have had so far?
Does any actor like auditioning? Once I was asked to act with a paper bag over my head so they could see my physicality!? Enough said.
Acting requires a tremendous lot of work, both physically and mentally. How do you keep yourself active and level-headed?
It’s a constant challenge keeping yourself sane and motivated when everything is so uncertain. I try to focus on the work at hand as much as possible, and let everything else take care of itself.
Who would you love to work with, whether directors, writers, or other actors?
I have a serious professional crush on Wong Kar Wai. His movies are so lush, and sultry and just ooze longing.
Where do you see yourself in the future in terms of what you would like to accomplish?
Creating my own original content and telling stories that aren’t getting play in the mainstream, but in offbeat, funny and fresh ways. These days it feels like there is a demand for people who can not only perform, but also bring ideas to the table and present alternative perspectives.
Promote yourself! What new projects are you working on right now that you want people to know or keep an eye out for?
My latest project just launched in February is a web series called “In Bed with Jen Jajeh” where I interview artists and cultural figures in their beds in pajamas. I’m working with filmmaker Maressa Stertz of the Seeing Machine on the project, and it has been so much fun.
Of course, there is also my solo show I Heart Hamas… which has been my baby for the last 3 years and is enjoying an extended run in Los Angeles.
What advice would you like to give to aspiring actors?
Love it, and make sure there is nothing else you could be doing that would make you as happy. It’s hard work, rarely glamorous and takes up every ounce of energy you have.
BONUS QUESTION: What’s the top 5 five things that people do that absolutely irritates you?
1- Being mean to waiters. 2- Self entitlement. 3- Bringing children to nice restaurants. 4-Bad driving. 5-Death threats. You know, the basics.