If you are looking to fall in love with someone new, hilarious, and with a good head on her shoulders, I think I may have just found her! Ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Levinson! She has got it all – both beauty AND brains! If you follow along on BuzzFeed, then you probably already know who I’m talking about. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jennifer began her career as an ensemble vocalist in “Oklahoma” and has since been in numerous stage productions and short films. I recently had the pleasure of getting to know Jennifer a little bit more, and let me just tell you, she is such a doll! Check out our interview together here:
Jessica: At what age did you start acting? Did you know from a young age that this is what you wanted to do for a living?
Jennifer: I was a very sassy, extroverted child, who would sing obnoxiously loud in public, put my signature crayon-touch on anything, and dance wherever, whenever. Yet I gravitated towards sports, running track and field and playing soccer regularly, and I wanted to be a competitive runner. At age six, my parents convinced me to join a summer drama camp, and that entirely changed the course of my life. I have a faint memory of walking onstage for the opening act of “Oklahoma,” seeing shadows of audience beneath the spotlight, and waving ecstatically at my mom: a no-no for stage actors. Lucky me, I was cute enough to get away with breaking the fourth wall, and I ate up all the attention. In that moment, I knew that I never wanted to leave the stage… so I didn’t! Until camp counselors finally pulled me off. I’ve since learned proper stage etiquette, and my passion for acting has transitioned from that childlike desire for attention into a love for the art of acting and the process of creation.
Jessica: Did you do a lot of performing in school? Take any acting classes, things like that?
Jennifer: I did a ton of performing in school. In fact, It’s hard to remember what required classes I took since I was so engulfed in performing. My schedule was insane: Vocal Jazz at 6 or 7 a.m., then AP classes, then chorus, tap dance, acting, more AP classes, and finally, rehearsal until 10 p.m. Under the guidance of both high school and college acting teachers, I learned how important it is to take things with a grain of salt and only embrace the lessons that you find beneficial. I had one instructor, on my first day of class, place me in the center of the room and comment that he’d “never spend a single penny to see me perform.” Though we hadn’t begun any acting yet, he proceeded to berate me until I started crying, to which he exclaimed “now that’s acting!” This technique is bullying, and once I could see that, I was able to turn a blind eye and proceed forward on my creative journey. On the opposite side of the coin, I’ve been fortunate to find several mentors who’ve nurtured my creative endeavors and enabled me to develop a strong work ethic. I think in middle/high school, it’s important to find instructors who encourage creativity, who allow students to play roles that they wouldn’t stereotypically be cast in. This is the time for exploration! I’m grateful to my instructors who took a chance on me by allowing me to portray roles completely outside my type, who encouraged me to build a strong repertoire so I can apply those skills to on-brand roles.
Jessica: So I read online that you create your own content. Is that difficult?
Jennifer: I love creating my own content. A lot of the breakdowns for women my age seek “sexy, model, tall, stripper, etc.” typed characters, and I don’t fit that! Rather than wait around hoping for the right role to reveal itself, I started creating roles and collaborating on scripts. I was inspired by the documentary “Hollywood Complex” to create a digital series about a mother-daughter duo who move to LA during pilot season… and never leave. With the assistance of my boyfriend, Steve Kanter, we developed that series, “Never Ever Land,” and explored other forms of digital content from parodies to shorts. There are so many outlets for digital media nowadays, and we’ve been fortunate to gain recognition from FunnyOrDie and Blumhouse for our projects. The most difficult part nowadays is coordinating schedules and finding people who are passionate enough to work on a project that has no budget!
Jessica: What has been your biggest break so far?
Jennifer: This is an exhausting, difficult industry at times, and I consider the following my biggest break because it was a turning point in my career: I had been auditioning for several projects, but the auditions were sporadic, and the callbacks and bookings were rare. Out of frustration, I promised myself that if I did not book the next project I auditioned for, I would pursue another career path. Lo and behold, I had auditioned numerous times for a pilot, obtained a screen test, and ended up booking the pilot. Months later, I found out that the pilot fell through. However, the director kept in touch with me and used me as a supporting role in a “Shop Til You Rock” promo with Demi Lovato. Since then, I’ve adjusted my mindset: nothing is a failure, and any sort of rejection is just added gas in the tank to keep pursuing this career path. I’m in it because I love the process, and booking the Demi Lovato short helped me refocus my energy and adjust my definition of success to mean more than just “booking.”
Jessica: Aside from the BuzzFeed videos, what are some films/TV shows that your fans may see you in?
Jennifer: The majority of my career has been on stage or in digital media. I began actively pursuing film and television while in college and have been in numerous indie and short films and a handful of commercials. I’ve taken a step back from stage acting to focus on the film side, although I’m regularly flexing my improvisational arm at Second City Conservatory.
Jessica: Let’s talk about Steve and his sleep talking videos! They are hilarious! Does he find them as amusing as we do?
Jennifer: Steve does not find his sleep talking as funny as we do. In fact, he makes me go through an “approval process” now if I want to post them… although I sometimes post the golden gems to Snapchat or Instagram @jenhearts247… Sorry Steve! Can’t help it! He’s over the “embarrassment” part, but I think he doesn’t want his “legacy” to be the guy who talked in his sleep. He says some really great, profound stuff, though, in his sleep!
Jessica: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What can we expect to see from Jennifer Levinson?
Jennifer: The industry is changing so rapidly. I think digital media will be a primary outlet for actors in five years (it already is!) I would love to have some co-star/guest-star roles under my belt, some additional film roles (perhaps more on the comedic side, as most of my current film stuff is very dark), and a successful web series produced, and starring, me! I love having my hands in all aspects of production, from conception to completion, and I hope to continue collaborating with passionate, reliable, and talented individuals. I hope to help widen the net for females in the industry by employing more women in production and by creating juicy, leading female roles.