When Jordin Sparks debuts as Jenna in Waitress for the first time September 16, it won’t be hard for her to tap into the role. Sparks has a deep passion for baking, instilled in her by her grandmother.
In fact, she tackled a family recipe for rhubarb custard pie recently. “It was amazing,” the In the Heights alum says. “I hadn't had it in so long.” The pie turned out so well, in fact, that during a press event she kept taking bites in between interviews. “They went to take it away, and I was like, ‘No, I’m just going to take this with me.’”
Playing Jenna goes beyond pie making, though. At the heart of the story is a young woman trying to take control of her life. “I understand the emotional turmoil that she goes through in terms of her relationships and the things she deals with,” says Sparks. “I’ve been through the crazy ‘what the heck did I just get myself into?’ type of relationships and navigating how to get out of that.”
Thankfully, the American Idol Season 6 winner is in a better place—happily married and a new mom, Sparks says that her family is her whole world now. Balancing that with a new job on Broadway is something she feels ready to tackle. “Being able to delegate and shut off the performance part of my brain, so I can be present at home will be something that I have to think about more than I did before,” she says. Another challenge? The famously mercurial New York City weather. “I’m from L.A. with lots of sun and no snow! I'm going to have to watch out for my voice and pay attention.”
Compared to being in the spotlight with a mic, a band, and a few back-up dancers on tour, the Great White Way will give Sparks a company to play off of. “It’s really nice to have that support to lean and fall back on. I know there are going to be days when I’m so tired and they’re going to be like, ‘OK, we got you, we’ll carry you.’ That’s an amazing feeling.”
As for one wish Sparks has before Waitress closes early next year? A meeting with musical creator and songwriter Sara Bareilles. “She's a musical genius! She is so incredible and I really hope she can stop by, so I can give her a hug and tell her that in person!”