As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are coping with the self-isolation on a daily basis, both physically and creatively.
The series continues with Jenn Colella, who was nominated for a 2017 Tony Award for her passionate performance as airline pilot Beverley in the international hit musical musical Come From Away. The actor, who won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for that performance, has also impressed Broadway audiences in productions of Urban Cowboy, High Fidelity, Chaplin, and If/Then. Among her numerous other theatrical credits are leading roles in Peter Pan, Angels in America, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Company, Sylvia, and Victor/Victoria.
What is your typical day like now?
My typical day begins quite early because I'm living with a five year old. I get up and find a sunny spot in the living room and meditate with headphones on for 20 minutes while Henry begins his schoolwork. After an hour or so of homeschooling (I've become a math teacher?!), we have a break and go outside to play baseball or soccer. Chilina [Kennedy] has many talents and cutting hair happens to be one of them, so I have a badass haircut that I couldn't rock in the normal day-to-day. Chilina is also a fantastic cook, and she feeds us delicious meals all day long. (I clean.) Chilina is also teaching Henry and me French, so that's yet another bonus of being quarantined with Ms. Kennedy.
Be gentle with yourself. Keep the voice in your head as positive and kind as you can.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
The show I've enjoyed watching the most is the mini-series Unorthodox on Netflix. Chilina and I are now watching Shtisel, another fabulous Netflix show. I am reading Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza. He combines quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, and genetics to show you, the reader, that you are not doomed by your genes and hardwired to be a certain way for the rest of your life. This time in our history feels like a genuine opportunity for a major reset, so I am working diligently to change old patterns that are no longer serving me.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation?
My advice for those struggling with isolation is to focus on things that feel like self-care. From a hot bath, to listening to an album from beginning to end, to making a list of all of the friends who enhance your life and reaching out to them. Be gentle with yourself. Keep the voice in your head as positive and kind as you can. Limit the amount of news you watch.
How are you keeping your creative juices flowing?
I've been teaching some master classes in acting (and on kindness) online, and that helps keep my creative juices flowing. I was also fortunate enough to be a part of a week-long reading of a new musical via Zoom! That experience was both trippy and exciting. Recently I've become active on Cameo, a wonderful app wherein fans can reach out to me directly and request a happy birthday message or a pep talk or a dirty joke. It's been awesome to feel like I'm connecting with people and sharing positivity during this tough time.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I am working on a new musical, but we've been asked to keep it quiet for now. I long for the day when I can return to my favorite place to create, the rehearsal room. In the meantime, most of the work I'm doing is on myself, and I'm finding there's plenty there to keep me busy.