Meet the Artist: Jeanine Follette
Our series dedicated to meeting the artists and collaborators of Mother/Daughter, continues with EBP founder Lauren Leonard (LL) interviewing actor Jeanine Follette.
Jeanine is a native of Rochester, New York who studied voice and music at Monroe Community College and Musical Theatre Performance at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Follette has headlined as a Featured Singer on Holland America and Royal Caribbean cruise ships; toured the Northeast and Canada with Cirque Dreams: Holidaze; and understudied for The Walnut Street Theatre's production of Saturday Night Fever.
LL: What brought you to Philadelphia?
JF: I moved from New York City with my then husband because he booked an Equity show here. We decided to stay once we realized it’s cheaper to live and we could still build a decent resume.
LL: What’s your theatrical background?
JF: I fell in love with theatre at 8 years old and have been involved ever since. I worked on school productions and in local theatre before moving to New York City when I turned 21. Once there, I enrolled in The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, majoring in Musical Theatre. I was lucky enough to book right out of school and have toured the country and seas performing on cruise ships.
LL: I confess to Googling you (I Google all my collaborators. Is that creepy?) so I know you can sing and dance. What’s your favorite number to perform?
JF: Oh jeez, seriously?! That is too funny! My first love was singing. I used to want to be a singer on the radio, like legit! My favorite number to perform is hard to choose! I’d say when I was in a wedding band, I loved singing “Redneck Woman” and “Lady Marmalade” on the ships.
LL: What’s it like to work on a cruise ship?
JF: I was in an ensemble that was worth over $10,000 and I got to rock this kind of “sass” that I’d never embodied before in my life! It was so much fun! It’s an experience I am grateful for and always recommend to anyone learning how to hone their craft. I learned SO much about performing while on the ships, but there’s a give and take. Eventually, you miss your friends and family and being a part of normal day-to-day life on land. It’s difficult spending every holiday away from home and in constant motion. That being said, I look back on that time fondly; I don’t regret it one bit.
LL: At your audition you said you’re cast most often as the Tough Girl and that you’d like to play someone more vulnerable. Without giving too much away, would you say you’re getting that opportunity with Mother/Daughter?
JF: Absolutely! I’m good at glitzing it up, acting strong and confident with some heels on, and belting out a song, but I haven't had the opportunity yet to really work in those quiet, private moments. With Mother/Daughter, I’m outside of my comfort zone but trying to graciously accept those uncomfortable feelings and recognize that this woman has something to say that isn’t easy for her. I’m doing my best to honor that.
LL: What drew you to Mother/Daughter?
JF: Here’s the thing, when I found out what Fringe was back in 2016, I was determined to be cast in it! It’s something that has always been on my radar. When I saw auditions for this year's shows, I jumped at the chance to be seen. Yours was the second Fringe audition I had and—my friends will confirm this—I was in such a great mood after your audition. Everything about the audition process for this show was warm, and inviting, and it left me feeling like even if I didn’t book it, I had a great time being myself in the room with you. Now that we’re here, I am so very grateful to be a part of an original piece that’s meaningful and present a subject worthy of discussion. I think show has the capacity to touch those who have a loving, strained, lost, or even spiritual relationship with their mothers.
LL: What do you hope to gain from the Fringe experience?
JF: More experience working on a living, breathing piece. It’s rare as an actor that you get the chance to collaborate on a script with the writer. This process has taught me to go with the flow and not be so hard on myself; to stop trying to get every word right and be less rigid in my approach. One day, it might all be re-written, you know?
LL: Where can audiences see you after Fringe? What’s next for you?
JF: I’m focusing on finding more auditions and creating opportunities to be seen. Nothing is booked now, but we actors know that can change at the drop of a hat! I hope to work with Earlie Bird again and play in the Philly PACK garage. For now, though, I’m grateful to be here and able to perform.
Mother/Daughter Sept 15 8pm & Sept 16, 2pm, Philly PACK (233 Federal)