“There is no time to be "under" or mediocre. Just be the brightest and the fiercest."
So tell us who is Jené?
I am first and foremost, a Humanitarian, Healer, Connector, a major Lover, a passionate undying true Friend, and an Advocate. I am blessed to be a proud and happy Angel of New York City, and a creator - put on this earth to touch the world with my gifts through Film, Television and as a live Entertainer on stage and in Soul/R&B Music.
You're a Actress and Singer was this always your aspiration growing up?
Yes...well, I truly believe that you are born this way...born into the world as an Artiste...and that it is what you do with that magic and those God given gifts, that will determine your journey. That, and your self care and whole body wellness. As only a toddler, I was singing as soon as I could make sounds and melodies. It's something that comes natural. To perform and make art, to express and make people feel. And so, I was born already loving and knowing how to do these things...and I have never ever known any different.
I would die if I couldn't sing or make movies and tell stories. So, yes, an aspiration, but really a destined calling.
Who or what were your biggest influences?
My Father was the one who helped me realize my love and skills for Soul music. He would sing gorgeously and in full rich voice around the house all the time when I was very tiny. I thought he was phenomenal and I wanted to make sounds and music like him. I was too young to even speak at that point. But music is an extraordinary language. My Dad sounded like Donny Hathaway, which is my favorite male Singer. Other influences are Aretha Franklin, Deniece Williams, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie/The Commodores - and a couple big ones for me that people would be very surprised at, Dolly Parton and Olivia Newton John!...they are beautiful women and incredible singers and triple threat performers...they have been so influential since I was a little girl, in giving me powerhouse energy and vision to put on fabulous sensational shows and concerts with good energy and beauty all around! My parents bought me their vinyl and their concert videos as gifts and I was mesmerized. I watched them endlessly. The true talents and Divas. That's where it's at. Everyone should watch those old live videos concerts of theirs! My musical influences that are current today are extra special Artistes like Arlo Parks, RY X, James Arthur and Alicia Keys. In Film, I am seriously influenced and inspired by the kick ass Female Directors out there and especially the ones I've been blessed to work with! They are Rockstars, they do and handle it all. Watching them work, I find them so sexy and so motivating. I also get so illuminated and touched watching Marion Cotillard in all her incredible untouchable works and roles.
What's the best and worst piece of advice you've been given?
The best piece of advice I've been given is the exact advice that I myself always give to everyone, young and old...and that is: 1. BE KIND TO EVERYONE...and I mean EVERYONE. Firstly, it is the best way to be, and secondly, career and life wise, you NEVER know who you're encountering, speaking to or interacting with! They could be really influential to your life in huge ways, or they could also be in a powerful position to make or break you, simply by not appreciating or liking your negative energy and attitude. 2. Be at your very best at all times! Live in or as close to 100% whole body physical and emotional wellness as much as possible. Treat yourself right and take care of your body and remember your self care and nurturing. Once all of this is right, you can do anything the clearest and to the best of your ability. There is no time to be "under" or mediocre. Just be the brightest and the fiercest.
The worst advice I've ever been given probably has to be any time anyone has ever told me that I have to "settle" or "compromise " for something, or when people tell me stereotypical things that will be "expected " of me, and that could be in anything - work or life or socially, etc. I really stick to doing what makes me feel best and happy and I avoid anything toxic or that makes me feel unappreciated fully or anything/anyone chauvinistic or disrespectful. I am happy to walk away from jobs or life situations or even people, if I feel or experience any of this kind of vibe or treatment. You absolutely do not have to settle for anything in life - you can have the best and the most, and you deserve to have things be exactly the way you want them and how you believe they should be. I can't stand when anyone is trapped in any situation where they are miserable and being mistreated or taken for granted, or if they are being disrespected. No job or person is worth sticking around for like that, at all. Honor yourself and your feelings.
What's been your best role and gig to date?
That is so difficult to choose after so many golden opportunities performing for the world. I suppose if I had to narrow it down, I would say: playing Mimi in RENT - that is a very deep and majestic, emotional experience and hard to say goodbye to that luscious phenomenal music, and that girl/ character, Mimi, who lives in me when I finish the show...On screen, a favorite experience/role has been playing Delia in the Feature Film, The Last Thing He Wanted. Playing two roles in the film as an Undercover Intelligence Agent, I feel so honored to be in that movie amongst so many legends and Stars. I also LOVE wearing menswear and uniforms, and I was made to look top knotch there by Ane Crabtree the Costume Designer, and it was empowering. In Music, my favorite time and moments were doing all the huge Music Television shows in London and performing all around the UK. Nothing will ever beat the Music and Music scene in London!
What are you working on at the moment?
Oh my goodness - well it just gives me so much joy and fire to speak on it, but it is a deep and rich film called "OVERFLOW", which is actually an extremely cinematically, visually gorgeous SILENT film! I have always admired watching the silent film creations of the past and the amazing ones of today, and then in getting to do one, it just is such a majorly intense, emotional and completely beautiful experience. Doing a silent film, it's like everything is elevated, your performance, your craft, your feelings, and especially my relationship to my Co Star and Director...because there's no speaking, and so it is so important to get and give the MOST of yourself and show everything you have inside in your heart and soul and behind your eyes, and tell this story...and overall, to connect...Through making this film, my connection to these people has been so powerful and I fell in love with them immediately. The movie is about relationship and communication, and about what happens to you when you do not choose happiness or don't choose yourself basically, and when you are stifled and trapped staying in something that is not for you. The Actor Ryan Mallon and I star in this together alone, and it is written and directed by this new, stunning Boss Woman Director, Jaidan Royal, who can do it all.
A dream role?
There are a few things burning in me that I need to do, more like dream projects...but I absolutely MUST do And Just Like That(Sex and The City)" and play a fabulous comedic or powerful role there! I want to do an action movie and be seen and portrayed as a Action Star who is Polynesian Islander, since I am an Islander and the world needs to know more of that. I want to work with lovely Martin Scorsese. And, honestly, I also just want to make movies where I can be myself and look like ME, and be fun and hilarious and funny as hell, because that is also who I am...and often times, a multiracial/mixed race or simply ethnic person gets typed into playing only roles completely opposite of who you you really are, and truthfully I am so over, exhausted and turned off by that now, and I've been putting my foot down...but, when I see fierce, hysterical movies such as Girls Trip, The Hangover, Bridesmaids, and wonderful things like my fave, Love Actually...I'm like, YES! I love that! So awesome, so real, so good - I just want to make people laugh their asses off and look amazing and feel good doing that.
Here at the Hobo Journal we love to travel hence the name, you have travelled all over where is your favorite place and why?
My favorite places I have traveled and made most cherished treasured memories in, are Tokyo and London. Tokyo just melts my heart because it is where Human Kindess is the greatest and grandest in all the world. People there do things for you because they truly care and they truly want to. It is also a non tipping culture as everyone is just doing things of service out of the kindess of/in their hearts. Everything there is exquisite and like a piece of art...the mannerisms and gentleness of the people, the buildings, the food creations and the cocktail masterpieces, the fashion and clothing, the temples, the flowers, greenery and water. I feel a floating, peaceful ethereal energy there, even when I'm in a high powered or energetic atmosphere, event or environment - everything just remains so dreamy and chill. Japanese women are amongst the most beautiful women in the world to me in all ways. Even though the culture is so reserved and held back, I love everything and everyone so much there that I do get them to break out of their shell a little bit and they will do things out of character for them, like happily accept my big hugs and my generousity etc...it makes me overjoyed. As for London, it's supreme for me. London is my second, soulful spiritual home. When I leave London I break down every time and it leaves me breathless. I am connected to London in an other worldly way, and London has always been so good to me. In London, I am always living in extreme magic..magical moments and magical connections with the most magical people, loves and friends. It is so old and ancient and it holds such majestic, radiant energies, vibes and spirit. I am an empath so I feel every single bit of it at all times. I walk down the streets of London alone and I am in a zone and I feel the city reaching out for me and pulling me, and humming and buzzing throughout me, much like New York City. I am obsessed with London history, and so when I'm not there, I'm always watching wonderful historical documentaries or precious travel guide shows on London. I love it all - the melting pot of cultures, the English cuisine, the tea times, the nostalia, the streets,the markets, the many crafts, artistries and trades of the people, the architecture, and the marvelous friends and strangers in London! I am blessed with the best of all of it there. It's really too hard to put into words. I have often felt that perhaps I've had a past life in London, which is why now everything is so intense there for me and excruciating to leave and part from...People close to me know that a big dream of mine that I've been manifesting, is for me to have a true home and a solid life in London... A couple of days ago when I left London, my friend said strongly and confidently to me, "no - it's not that you had a past life in London that makes it so hard for you to be away...it's because London is YOUR FUTURE..." ...and I felt so good and happy about that. That was everything, and so on the money. I'm looking forward to that.
More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer