AAGC ASKS: Jenna Ushkowitz
Actor, Co-Founder of Kindred: The Foundation for Adoption.
Photos by DEMI WARD PHOTOGRAPHY
What makes you undefinable?
Jenna: Staying true to what feels right for me at any point in time, allows me to keep growing and evolving, which means you'll never be able to define me for too long.
When did you know the entertainment industry was what you wanted to pursue?
I started in the industry when I was 3 modeling and doing commercials but it wasn’t until I was in my first Broadway show at the age of 9, that I fell in love with community that Broadway brings together and the real craft of Theatre. There is nothing in the world like the rush of performing on a Broadway stage in front of thousands of people. I continued to fall in love with singing, dancing and acting and was always performing in my bedroom when not on stage. When deciding what I wanted to study in college, i’ll never forget my high school theatre teacher and mentor saying, “if there’s anything else you can imagine yourself doing, do it” and when I realized there wasn’t, that’s when I decided to pursue it as an adult.
Your work in the adoptee community is incredible. Kindred: The Foundation for Adoption, is an American foundation you created with fellow adoptee Samantha Futerman. How did that come about?
Sam Futerman brought me on to Executive Produce her documentary, Twinsters, where she documented the reconnecting of her twin sister in her 20’s after being separated at birth and adopted to two families in two different countries, we had an outpouring of response from the Adoptee community. What we very quickly realized, was that there are so many organizations/non profits for aiding in the process of adoption but there was a real hole in world of support for adoptees. We decided to create Kindred to bring socio-emotional support and aid for adoptees and their unique and dynamic stories.
It is so cool that you were in "Waitress" on Broadway! Can you share a little bit about that adventure?
Yes, I had the absolute best time performing in Waitress. It had been quite a few years since I had done Broadway (7 years to be exact), so coming back to the New York stage in 2016 was a very special experience for me. I have been such a huge fan of Sara Bareilles’ music for years, so that made the experience even cooler. It was a bit of a whirlwind, I learned the show and had my first performance 10 days after I found out I got the gig. I have made lifelong friends from the show and it definitely reignited my love for Theater after doing TV and Film for many years previously.
You have so many amazing projects in the works! How do you stay organized and prioritize your tasks?
This may be my favorite question you’ve asked so far (haha).
I do enjoy wearing many hats and the simplest answer is: TO-DO checklists and Google Calendar. But the longer answer is that I believe in scheduling everything. I take each day one hour at a time and I make sure that I even schedule in an hour for myself each day when I can, whether that’s watching a TV show, getting a facial, reminding myself to use a face mask before bed or taking a bath. I make sure that I work out in the mornings and those have become a non-negotiable for me because otherwise I get too bogged down and tired later in the day and I won’t do it. I know that waking up in the mornings sucks but I do my best work in the mornings, so I make sure that I schedule the harder tasks in the AM and leave the errands for later. I allow myself 6 big tasks a day and below the line I write all the other notes and things I need to accomplish if they aren’t time sensitive and whatever I don’t get to, moves to the next days schedule! (Thanks to my Baron Fig Habit tracker planner :))
For more from Jenna, follow her at @jennaushkowitz.