Rising Star Jane Bonem: “Why we need to start a movement for everybody to volunteer to assist the homeless population in some way”

The movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the most amount of people would be if everybody were to volunteer to assist the homeless population in some way, whether assisting children, adults, or the elderly. I think if it were mandatory maybe we could cure some of our country’s problems. As a […]

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The movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the most amount of people would be if everybody were to volunteer to assist the homeless population in some way, whether assisting children, adults, or the elderly. I think if it were mandatory maybe we could cure some of our country’s problems.

As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing actress Jane Bonem. Jane was born and raised in New York City and is a television, film and theater actor. She has appeared in regional theater, national tours and has had supporting roles in the independent films ”Cell Mates” (winner of Hollywood Shorts Film Festival) and “Taken Over.” This past year she played Joanie’s Mom and four other roles in Group Repertory Theater’s comedy production “Whoopsie Doopsie” directed by Art Shulman at the Group Repertory Theater in North Hollywood. The Tolucan Times said she “brought colorful zest to all of her characters.”

Thank you so much for doing this with us Jane! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Ironically my mother registered me for acting classes when I was a young child in Manhattan, but to this day I do not know what gave her the idea to do so. My parents divorced when I was one and a half years old and I guess maybe she thought it would be a good outlet for me. My paternal grandfather from Germany was an amateur conductor at the age of eighty in Denver, who had his own orchestra which performed in nursing homes. My maternal grandparents in Fort Lauderdale were amazing amateur dancers even in their late seventies. Although I am a character actor, I did some musical theater in my twenties and sang and danced so maybe somehow I inherited creativity from both sides. Looking back on it, I think that after I was put in acting classes as a child and as a teenager and being encouraged by teachers and my peers, I became more confident and saw a lighter side of myself that was in a different vein from the atmosphere I was raised in. Acting may have given me a freedom I did not feel to express myself. Whether onstage, behind the camera or in rehearsal, I always feel happiness and excitement due to the concentration and focus it requires, the shutting out of the daily life, and the creative process.

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

In the late 1990’s when I was touring forty five states doing musical theater in Denver, by sheer coincidence I was approached after the show by a woman in charge of the performance facility who recognized my last name. She told me that all of my late grandfather’s classical sheet music was stored there. My paternal grandparents left Germany as a young married couple in 1937 to flee Hitler and the Nazis and I have actually seen my last name in the Holocaust museum. My grandmother told me about her cousins who had been killed in deathcamps. My grandfather drove a taxi in Denver but I suppose he must have wanted to be a conductor all of his life. Luckily he was featured in the Denver Post with his orchestra at the age of eighty.

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?

The only funny mistake I can think of was turning down the lead role in a community production at a young age. After everybody auditioned, they offered me the lead role of Merlin the Magician and I was so shy or not accustomed to taking ownership of my talent, that I ended up having to play a minor role as a chipmunk singing “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.” The obvious lesson is to own your creativity and talent even at a young age.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

The most interesting people I have interacted with are the young actors who come into acting with an attitude of not being delighted to have the opportunity to act, even without pay in the beginning. In the beginning, if you love to act you should be doing everything you can to act and not have an attitude of “well, they are not paying me.” I once heard an understudy say she did not want to go on stage on her birthday when it was her first opportunity to be perform the role. She added that besides they were not paying her. I thought to myself if I were in her shoes I would have been jumping for joy for such a great birthday present.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

My tips to thrive and not burn out are to eliminate negativity and negative people as much as possible, have a spiritual belief system, workout at the gym, eat healthy food, take vitamins, and to avoid drinking and smoking as much as possible. Its imperative to always continue to fine tune your technique by taking classes like acting, improvisation, dancing, voice and speech or singing and interact with other actors regularly or belong to a troupe if possible.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the most amount of people would be if everybody were to volunteer to assist the homeless population in some way, whether assisting children, adults, or the elderly. I think if it were mandatory maybe we could cure some of our country’s problems.

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

“The true cost of following your dreams isnt what you sacrifice when you chase them, its what you lose when you dont.”

-Simon Tam

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

A current project I am working on is volunteering for School on Wheels as an Academic Tutor on Skid Row in Los Angeles where I live. I am still in the process of training but I will be paired up with one school aged child to tutor them on weekends for one hour a week because obviously due to inadequate housing, homeless children miss a huge amount of school hours each year. Our role as tutors is to supplement their lessons and I intend to being grade level appropriate plays to read into the classroom. If they allow me, I might be able to bring my student to a low cost or free show.

I am also currently auditioning for pilot season in Los Angeles and looking forward to new projects.

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 can’t really say that anyone was responsible for me being an actor. I was extremely close to my paternal grandmother and whenever I saw her doing things even in her advanced age I would ask her how she did them to which she always replied, “ I make up my mind to do something, and I tell myself I can.”

I would like to say that I cannot identify one person that pushed me to pursue the life of an actor except myself. It was all me. When I found out that I did not have familial approval it was stupifying, but I think I learned to depend on myself and I realized that I must approve of myself first. I got support and encouragement from alot of people I worked with along the way thankfully. I would like to reveal this because I am aware that there must be artists out there who might be going through this experience themselves.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

The person I would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with is Anne Frank. I played her boyfriend Peter’s mother Mrs. Van Daan once many years ago. I would like to find out how she could have been that hopeful under her circumstances and how she could have pressed on living in the attic knowing they could be taken to concentration camps at any moment. I think it is a glorious testament to the human spirit and to optimism.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

IMDB: imdb.me/janebonem

Instagram: @janebonem

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