Jaclyn Whitehair: “Don’t take things too seriously”

Don’t take things too seriously. Afterall, isn’t acting just “playing”? Well, then have some fun and go play! If you do the prep work, when it comes time to film a scene, listen to your scene partner and just live in the world. As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Don’t take things too seriously. Afterall, isn’t acting just “playing”? Well, then have some fun and go play! If you do the prep work, when it comes time to film a scene, listen to your scene partner and just live in the world.

As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jaclyn Whitehair.

Jaclyn Whitehair, actress and creator, was born and raised in Chicago. The Second City is also where she began her creative career. She worked with Collaboraction and the renowned Redmoon Theatre, where she performed at TedxMidWest, Lyric Opera House Chicago, and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.It was in Chicago that Jaclyn began her modeling and TV career, performing on shows for Discovery and Fox and starring in several commercials and print ads. She also truly shined on the dance floor while competing in national competitions with Latin Street Dance Company. She toured the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico while performing at congresses and winning championships. Her team specialized in salsa, mambo, and bachata.

Jaclyn embarked to LA, where she was classically trained, studying the methods of Stella Adler and Meisner. She learned directly from James Franco in his masterclass and Scott Caan in his performance class.

Realizing she had a passion for creating the work she performs, she dived into writing and producing. In 2017, she wrote and produced Breach, an award-winning short film that circled around the festival market. In 2019, she was associate producer for the Sell/Buy/Date tour, performed by Tony-winner Sarah Jones.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Of course, I’m thrilled to be included with such an inspiring group of women. I’m originally from Chicago. I grew up in the suburbs but then moved to the city for a few years before coming to LA. It’s during this time that I was part of the Chicago theatre scene, started my film career and competed nationally in Latin Ballroom.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

What excited me most as a child, when performing, was being able to share unique stories with the audience, to give them a glimpse into a different world. I have always loved listening to stories and learning about new ideas.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I find being a part of the writing process, and then being able to perform the work I helped create so rewarding. I really enjoyed doing research on Nellie Bly in preparation for this web series.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My props were mixed up backstage during a run on Antigone. Instead of a sword, I had to grab the next best thing- a rolling pin. I learned, when acting, you need to be as prepared as possible and then be open to the moment and able to use improvisation.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m so grateful to all of my acting, voice, movement coaches, and mentors. I’ve worked with many fabulous instructors along the way who have really pushed me to become the best I can be. You need to think of acting training as training like an athlete with daily practice. I currently train with Dana Martin and at Scott Sedita Studios.

Also, my small but mighty team on The Nellie Bly Story was incredible! Because of COVID, I filmed this project alone. My VO actress, Allison Hendrick, was fantastic. We recorded while she was reading the Qs on Zoom. Additionally, my editing team at KO Creative is always a joy to work with.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Embrace the failure. What?! I know, I know, the thought of failing makes me uncomfortable. I’m highly competitive and I don’t like to lose. The truth is, you need to fail in order to succeed. Meaning, you need to be open to trying new things that you won’t be perfect at in the beginning. Keep finding ways to challenge yourself and your craft, knowing that you are going to have to pivot and re-route along the way. There’s no clear path but you can make a plan, practice, and be flexible to what comes your way. Always put in the work.

What drives you to get up every day and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

I feel alive while working in TV and film. There’s exciting energy flowing when working with a team to create art that can change people’s lives — that’s what I live for. I’d love to see stronger female characters with unique storylines. We’ve come a long way, but still have a way to go.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

The Nellie Bly Story is the first installment of a series featuring interviews with women who were ahead of their time. My goal is to develop a series where we can celebrate stories that were never told before. I also star in The Scarf, which is currently circulating film festivals. Recently, I was added to the production team Foment Productions.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

Representation is everything. Theatre and film originated as a means to educate. It’s important to have a diverse cast and team, so that an inclusive story can be told. Otherwise, you only see things told from one perspective. Our culture and youth should have diverse inspiration to look up to. When you see someone, who has a similar background or history as you succeeding, you start to see the possibilities that are out there for you.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Acting is a lifelong journey. You will grow as an actor, just like you grow as a person. Never stop learning, training, and being open to improvement.

There are many paths to success. We all have our own journey, so don’t compare yourself to others. Stay focused on your own goals. You don’t want to be just like everyone else anyway!

Growth takes time. Nothing is overnight. It takes dedication to commit to an artist’s lifestyle. Go into it because you love the work. And remember, the journey is half the fun. 🙂

Be a team player. Putting together a project takes a team of collaborators, all tirelessly working towards one goal. Be a team player and always be someone other people want to work with. If you do a great job, you’ll open the door for new things. Opportunities will come when you least expect it.

Don’t take things too seriously. Afterall, isn’t acting just “playing”? Well, then have some fun and go play! If you do the prep work, when it comes time to film a scene, listen to your scene partner and just live in the world.

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

It’s important to remember that you need to make self-care a priority. I make it a practice to incorporate some sort of exercise daily. I usually take a strength training/HITT class or will walk my dog, Saint. Yoga is great for body/breath interaction. I’ll also practice Latin Ballroom moves! I was a competitive dancer for many years.

Just as you work out your body, you should also work out your mind. I love taking a few moments each morning to meditate and journal. Writing down your goals and dreams helps bring them into focus.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Be present. It’s a simple thought, yet this has influenced my life in such a positive way. Instead of reflecting on the past or worrying about the future, it’s important to enjoy the “now.” Enjoy the things in your life while living them in the moment, your experience will be greater. This has really brought a lot of joy into my life.

On a career level, staying present while acting keeps me connected with my scene partners. It allows me to “play”.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I wish the people could have more empathy and understanding of each other. This could potentially stop wars, racism, and poverty. If people really stopped and listened, they would see each other as human beings. There’s a saying: “same, same, different, different”. At the end of the day, we all have the same wants and needs and are just unique in our own ways.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Oh! I just wish I could go back in time and have lunch with Nellie Bly. I was drawn to do a project on her because I truly find her life fascinating. She had so many people doubting her, yet she carried on and triumphed in her endeavors. I feel like she had such an adventurous spirit. I’d also love to go back and meet Lucille Ball. Not only was she a brilliant actress and comedian, but she was also a fantastic businesswoman.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Check me out @JaclynWhitehair on socials and YouTube.

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Image via Getty

The Women Behind 4 Successful Brands Tell Us the Best — and Worst — Career Advice They’ve Ever Received

by Daniel Boan

Rising Stars Kaley Thompson, Jaclyn Brown, and Misty Harris of the The Cowboy Way: “Consistency is key.”

by Ben Ari

“You have an air of credibility” when you write a bestselling book, an interview with authors Sara Connell & Jaclyn DiGregorio

by Sara Connell
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.