by Morgan McMurrin
Name: Jolene Purdy
Hometown: Torrance, CA
Best Known For: “10 Things I Hate About You” TV series
AC: As a kid, did you imagine yourself becoming an actress?
Jolene Purdy: I grew up taking singing and dancing lessons and participating in local musical theatre productions, but I never dreamed that what I loved to do could be my job in the future!
AC: Can you tell AC about your first role?
Jolene: It was for Donnie Darko. I was so excited and nervous. It was such a life-changing experience. I remember meeting Drew Barrymore in the makeup trailer and thinking “is this real life?” When I wrapped, Jake Gyllenhaal said to me, “You should be proud of your work on this film. Think about the kids who are bullied and can relate to your character and think about bullies who can see how badly they hurt other people.” That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue entertainment as a career.
AC: Were you starstruck when you met Drew and Jake?
Jolene: Yes! When I met Drew Barrymore I couldn’t really speak. I swear she glows.
AC: You were recently on the show “10 Things I Hate About You.” What’s one of your favorite memories from the set?
Jolene: My favorite memory from “10 Things” has to be filming the rally scene in the last episode of first season. I remember standing there with Lindsey Shaw and Dana Davis singing “Let Freedom Ring” —for like, 4 hours. There are so many ways to sing that song—gospel, R&B, opera, off pitch— and forgot it was even work, because we laughed so much!
AC: Now you’re getting ready to play Piper Katins, the brash and ferocious instigator on the highly anticipated new TeenNick series, “GIGANTIC.” Give us a quick run-down of the show.
Jolene: “GIGANTIC” is about a group of Hollywood A-list actors’ kids. It’s a glamorous world, but with all that privilege comes some drama. The characters face all the issues teens face today, only theirs can be found on the cover of tabloids. I mean, imagine having a pimple and everyone in the world is seeing it! That’s a gigantic issue!
AC: How excited were you when you landed this role?
Jolene: The beauty of acting is getting to become someone you’re not. Piper is definitely a great alter-ego, and I can’t wait for people to see just how outlandish she can be.
AC: It looks like the show’s going to be a hit! Were you nervous auditioning for the part?
Jolene: I auditioned and thought I bombed it, but to my surprise, I got a call back! I went shopping to edge up my character and ended up reading for the network at Nickelodeon Studios. I bonded with the actors waiting to audition by sharing my Rockstar and Mentos. The boys played basketball on an inside court while waiting. It was as stress-free as an audition can be.
AC: What attracted you to the role of Piper?
Jolene: Piper’s confident in who she is and what she wants. She doesn’t let anyone intimidate her; she won’t back down and is ready to face anything that comes her way.
AC: How do you relate to her?
Jolene: I’m very outgoing and love tackling challenges as they come, just like Piper.
AC: Your best friend on the show, Anna, is played by Grace Gummer. Are you guys close off-screen as well?
Jolene: I love Grace. I didn’t meet her until our first day working together. She’s warm and inviting at first and then goes on to show how funny and kooky she can be. We have a blast together!
AC: How’s your life changed since you started acting?
Jolene: It’s changed the way I watch TV. Instead of kicking back with popcorn, I’m interested in the shots and what it took to complete each scene. I have so much respect for actors walking and talking in a scene. There’s really so much more to it than that. Who knew that walking and talking could be so complicated!
AC: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Jolene: “Don’t read what people write about you!” People can say some very hurtful things and not realize the impact it has on other people’s lives, and ultimately they have no say in what you can accomplish.
AC: Do you have any tips for plus-size girls trying to make it in the entertainment industry?
Jolene: Be strong and confident in who you are. Don’t let your size define you or limit you. As long as you’re healthy and happy with yourself, don’t change who you are.
AC: Aside from acting, what else are you passionate about?
Jolene: I love camping. I’m planning a trip with friends to go white water rafting next year. Campfires, friends and water fun make me smile!
Five fun facts about Jolene:
1.She used to work at Disneyland as a singer in one of their shows.
2. She can’t stand spiders!
3. She taught her beagle Lucy how to sing (howl) with her.
4. She’d wear flip-flops every day if she could.
5. She says she’s uncoordinated and could never be a cheerleader after once attempting to do a one-handed cartwheel and dislocating her elbow.
Photos: courtesy of Anderson Group Public Relations