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New York, NY
USA

The Ensemblist is an inside look at the experience of being a Broadway performer- from the first rehearsal through performing eight shows a week and beyond. Whether you’re an experienced theatre professional or a passionate fan, The Ensemblist will give you the opportunity to get to know new performers and the great work they do onstage, while also shedding light on some of the hidden innerworkings of the Broadway experience. Created and hosted by Mo Brady (The Addams Family, SMASH) and Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Chicago, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), The Ensemblist is the only podcast that shows you Broadway from the inside out. 

Q&As

Connect with each of our guests as they tackle The Ensemblist's Q&A!

Q&A: Jessica Wu

Nikka Lanzarone

Connect with Jessica

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Jessica's Episode: Shakespeare in the Park (#28)

Where are you from?A small town called Kindersley in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Broadway creditsA Chorus Line

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I had my last callback for the original company of the 1st National Tour and I didn’t realize I was also auditioning for the New York company - it’s silly but not knowing probably worked in my favour because I would have put a lot more pressure on myself at the time. Since I’d already toured so much, I guess I didn’t stress out as much as I could have if I’d known Broadway was part of the deal. They did it in these super-small final calls - four of us in the room up for two different characters so it was essentially me and one other girl up for the role. I’d actually torn my foot two weeks prior and I was supposed to still be wearing that boot thing - but I taped up my foot, shoved it into a dance shoe, cried inside during that crazy audition combo (you know the one!), and didn’t say a word about it to anybody. Afterwards, I thought I’d bombed it and did that thing where after a big audition you just wander around and a half hour later I ended up limping 20 blocks up to my agent’s office. I got there and was telling them about how I thought I’d screwed up royally when Nikole Vallins, who was at Binder Casting at the time, called the office and said I’d gotten it and that I’d be joining the New York company in a couple weeks for a stint before beginning the 1st National. 

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? Broadway Bares! I’ve done it 3 times and while it’s really amazing and a great experience to be a part of, I finally saw it as an audience member last year and I have to say that it’s even more fun than performing in it! And you get to drink without worrying about falling off a 5’ high runway.

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? I’m always interested in the personalities of performers - how for some the extroversion comes so naturally and then for others how getting up on stage is not second nature. I’m particularly fascinated by the extremely introverted who find themselves performers and what it takes for those two things to coexist in the same person.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? I had a pretty life-altering tragedy happen in January and the abundance of kindness and generosity from the people I call my New York family was awe-inspiring and just as life-altering. It’s cheesy, but all that ‘goodness’ has really inspired me to be an all-round better and more giving person as well as to try to lead a richer and fuller life.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… My Mom. I’m pretty far from home and have been for a long time and I think I’ll set up a Skype coffee date with her ASAP! Also, Jon Stewart.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… Bill Gates. To have the serious means to really positively influence society in the way that he is able to would be incredible. However, it would also be a huge responsibility to bear.

To be successful in this business, it takes… Having a real life. If you make the business your whole life, you’ll go crazy obsessing about auditions or why you didn’t get the job or why that other cast member got the understudy when so-and-so left. Make friends outside of theatre, date someone(s), date yourself, take vacations, connect with your family! Prepare for auditions and take your job seriously, but if all you do is eat/breathe/sleep theatre it doesn’t give you much to draw from as a performer. 

Tellus a secretI didn’t do a musical until my junior year of college at NYU and I was so embarrassed that I made up a bunch of things to put in my bio. I found the program the other day and it’s a completely hilarious fabrication!