Updated: Jan 27, 2020
Welcome back to the latest in our Get to Know series! Here we sat down with company member Jenna Houchin, who happens to be among the most multi-faceted talents we know. Her skill and experience ranges from acting, directing, graphic design, video editing, projection design, and much more! Here we discuss her inspirations, aspirations, and what defines her work.
M: Let's get this bad boy started with some warm-ups like we do all the rest, you down?
JENNA HOUCHIN: Let's do it!
M: Alright! What’s your favorite color?
JH: Yellow or black.
M: Favorite food?
JH: Avocado rolls and white pizza.
M: Favorite article of clothing?
JH: I own a lot of platform black boots and I’m obsessed with all of them.
M: Do you have any tattoos?
JH: I’d have a lot more if I didn’t act, but I have five. My most recent is a barbed wire heart on my leg.
M: Favorite weather or time of year?
JH: Late fall/very early winter.
M: Coffee or tea?
JH: I regularly drink chai tea lattes but I only drink coffee when I’m extremely stressed out.
M: What are some hobbies or interests of yours?
JH: Outside of theatre, I do a lot of writing, visual art, and photography. I also quietly attempt music, and collect vintage clothing.
M: What do you do to relax?
JH: I try to go to a lot of music or art shows to distract myself from my own work, but if I feel like being alone, I have this stupid thing where I love writing in my car while eating dinner.
M: Dream Vacation?
JH: Anywhere! I think my dream would be to go on tour with an artist or be part of a touring company so I can collaborate with artists while experiencing the world.
M: If you weren’t in theatre what would you do?
JH: Fashion and beauty merchandising/marketing, focusing on creating content for inclusive content, or being a full time photographer. In high school, though, I convinced myself that I wanted to be a heart surgeon. Not sure what that was about.
M: Who is a favorite writer of yours?
JH: All women. I think Greta Gerwig, the screenwriter for Ladybird, is someone who is really important. Musicians like Courtney Barnett and Harmony Tividad made me excited about writing again when I first discovered them.
M: Do you have a favorite actor or director?
JH: Off the top of my head, Ezra Miller is one of my favorite actors (and people, in general) because of how well he connects with people. I’m convinced it’s the main reason he connects so well with others on camera and on stage... he makes it look so easy! He is constantly pushing the limits that the entertainment industry tries to set for people, and it encourages me to try to be as authentic and open as possible at all times.
M: Who is a hero or inspiration of yours?
JH: I’m inspired by everything! I’m at such an amazing point in my life where I’m meeting so many different people, mainly artists, that are so encouraging to me and my process, and I’m inspired by the idea that collectively, we are all creating art that is a reflection of ourselves and our own realities.
Growing up, David Bowie helped me accept myself in all aspects: being comfortable in myself, how I’m changing, my sexuality, and my artistic worldview. I also used to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show on repeat, so that’s got to count for something.
M: What do you admire in people?
JH: Self awareness and realizing you are never too important to help and thank the people around you.
M: What do you despise in people?
JH: When people don’t realize how important their words are, and when people are so busy trying to get ahead that they forget that we can all collectively succeed.
M: What charms you in a person?
JH: When I’m fully charmed by a person, it usually happens in less than five minutes. It must be the open energy they give off or something. It’s also nice when someone doesn’t interrupt me. Either one of those.
M: Where are you from?
JH: Fort Wayne, Indiana.
M: What was it like growing up there?
JH: I didn’t love my life growing up due to a lack of representation of someone I could cling onto in the media or in my everyday life. That being said, I’m eternally grateful for the people I was surrounded by in the arts. They gave me that!
M: Did it impact your worldview in any way?
JH: Yes! I learned about the mindset of having “nothing to prove, only something to share,” and that’s stuck with me every single day since. Growing up in such a supportive performing arts community helped me realize that not everything in life is fun and games but so much of it actually is.
M: When did you develop an interest in theatre?
JH: I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t in dance classes, forcing my family to listen to me sing karaoke, or watching musicals on my VHS player.
M: When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
JH: I think I always knew, but I didn’t think it was a realistic career path until I was older.
M: You went to college and studied theatre. Why ISU?
JH: I went for a music education major so I could be an artistic director for show choirs in the midwest, and since ISU is known as a “teacher school”, I thought it would be a perfect match. I took a class in theatre for my minor, and almost immediately changed that to my major because I realized that that was the actual path I needed to be on.
M: How do you feel about it now that you’re in the field?
JH: I love it more and more everyday.
M: What was your favorite class?
JH: Playwriting. I tried to get out of signing up for it because I was too nervous, but then I ended up being the TA for the class the following year because it flipped some sort of weird switch in my head, and I’ve been writing almost everyday since.
M: How did your college experience shape you as a professional?