Tell us your story. Who is Jolene and also tell us about your ethnic background.
I'm a born and raised So. Cal kid. I am "hapa", which literally means half.
Growing up being a mixed race was a challenge. I tried to find my identity, but once I just gave up fitting into peopleís boxes it was smooth sailing. I am me, I am mixed up in so many ways.
Tell us about your recollection of your first acting experience. What is it for and how was it?
During my first dance recital, I ran out on stage and fell on my face. But, I jumped back up and resumed the choreography and got a huge round of applause. I was 3 years old and I was hooked!
Are you the only actress in your family?
I kind of started this whole artistic craze amongst my family. My auntie started costume designing and my cousin is a cirque performer. But, I am the only actress so far...
When did you start acting and what inspired you to be an actor?
I grew up doing musical theater since age 7. I think it started because I loved to sing and play pretend. As I got older, I loved putting myself in other people’s shoes and feeling what it would be like to walk. Now I think it’s a mixture of playing pretend and really diving into other people and their perspectives.
Actors have various methods to get into character but we are curious about how you approach the characters of the roles that you play?
First, I try to really dissect the writing and establish who the character is. I find things about them that I relate to. What can I personally bring to make this character unique?I use a lot of my own personal experiences in creating a character.
Tell us about Stephanie Hapakuka from Orange is the New Black.
Hapakuka (we go by last name in prison LOL) is Pipers new bunkmate. She was transferred from Hawaii, where she is from. Hapakuka is a good person deep down, but will do what needs to be done to survive. She is a pacifist and she tells Ouija before she tackles her and steals her contraband. Instead of making waves, she'd rather make peace. But why then is she in prison? I hope we find out!
Do you relate to her character?
I would definitely rather make peace! However, I can raise some hell if I and any of my loved ones are being taken advantage of.
How is it working alongside Taylor Schilling and a huge group of diverse talented actors?
Amazing! I am so used to being the diverse one, but to have a cast and crew full of talented and diverse individuals has been so inspiring and freeing. Taylor welcomed me from day one and made me excited to work! She is so good, I don't have to do anything other than be present with her on the ride.
Who is your acting idol?
So many! Melissa McCarthy is the funniest lady, such a great inspiration. Octavia Spencer has worked so hard and given us so many different characters, she's so versatile. Tina Fey is such a strong, funny, intelligent, creative woman. There are really, too many.
Oh my gosh!! Again, too many! My most recent one- Miles Teller, He can do anything! Whiplash (amazing), Footloose (musical), That Awkward Moment (so funny). And ya know, he isn’t too hard on the eyes.
What’s your favorite aspect of being an actor?
Getting to tell other people’s stories. Having the opportunity to be in a medium that helps to challenge other people’s perspectives.
Tell us about a really memorable experience in your acting career so far.
It would have to be what Jake Gyllenhaal said the day I wrapped “Donnie Darko”. It really has been something I’ve carried with me and used in every project I work on. He said (paraphrasing) - What we do as actors is powerful. Someone who has been bullied will watch this and feel comforted by your work knowing that they’re not alone. Someone who is a bully will see your work and maybe understand how they make other people feel. Jake made me realize what an honor and responsibility it can be to create these characters.
Full time employment?
What is on your music playlist right now?
Waitress the musical. Sara Bareilles’ music is so good and the cast is so talented! Hamilton because duh.
Book that you’re currently reading
Tell us a secret.
My husband told me I don’t ever have to wear heels again because they make me really mean.
Last movie you saw.
Currently binge watching:
Jane the Virgin - so good!!!!!!!
If you’re going to have your own book, what title would it be?
Mixed Up and Messy
If you had the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?
Children, and as corny as it sounds (insert music) I believe the children are our future. Children are innocent and when encouraged to explore they can flourish and take us on an incredible journey.
Photography IRVIN RIVERA
Styling GABRIEL LANGENBRUNNER
Makeup JOSEPH ADIVARI
Hair SHELBY SWAIN
Photo Asst PHIL LIMPRASERTWONG