Interview with Tony nominee Jenn Colella
Tony nominee Jenn Colella is currently starring in the hit Broadway musical Come From Away at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
Jenn made her Broadway debut in Urban Cowboy in 2003 and went on to appear in High Fidelity (2006), Chaplin (2012) and If/Then (2014). She is currently Tony-nominated for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical" for her role(s) in Come From Away and she also appeared as Val in the TV series Feed the Beast last year.
We caught up with Jenn to talk about playing a female airline captain, her own memories of 9/11 and the amazing competition between new musicals this season...
Thomas Hayden Millward: Congratulations on all your individual success, Jenn, and on the success of ‘Come From Away’ so far this season. How are you feeling?
Jenn Colella: I’m feeling fantastic, brother. I’m actually really, really, really deeply grateful.
THM: Now, before I went to see ‘Come From Away,’ I packed my Kleenex and really thought it was going to be a weepy one. But actually the main thing I took away with me from the show was its celebratory tone. Would you agree?
JC: I would agree. I find people are discovering that for themselves. They think: “Oomph, this is gonna be hard to work through!” But there’s a great deal of laughter. And as you said, there is a celebratory tone about it because we’re talking about the human spirit coming together in love and goodness and kindness and compassion.
THM: What has it meant for you to be able to play Beverly, this astonishing female captain?
JC: It means the world to me. It’s a huge responsibility. She was the first female captain for American Airlines. She was also the first woman to fly a Triple 7 – those huge jets. And she’s become a tremendous friend as well. It feels like an extraordinary privilege.
THM: I know it’s a delicate subject, but would you mind me asking you personally where you were during the events of 9/11 yourself and what was going through your head at that time?
JC: Of course you can. I was in grad school in California. So I was in Los Angeles and I remember everyone wanting to be out of their cars and stand on the sidewalk, which doesn’t happen a lot in Los Angeles. I could sense that the community wanted to be near one another. I went to several vigils that were popping up on street corners and we lit candles and sang and met a lot of people. I had a lot of eye contact with strangers that particular evening.
THM: ‘Come From Away’ is in a fantastic category of new musicals at the Tonys this year, alongside ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘The Great Comet of 1812.’ Did you get chance to see any of the other shows at all and how would you rate your chances?
JC: You know what’s hard is that we don’t get to see each other’s shows. I’ve seen ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ though. I’m actually part of the show because I’m in the virtual chorus and I’m so proud of that.
THM: Yes! I saw your name listed in the Playbill.
JC: It’s so extraordinary. But no, we haven’t been able to see the other shows yet. What’s so wonderful about this season is that we’re all supporting one another and the energy is good and it’s loving. I wish everyone the absolute best!
THM: And I wish you all the very best, Jenn.
JC: Thank you, brother.