10 Things with Jennifer Holland
You’re not new to performing, having been in gymnastics. What propelled you to a career in acting?
Being a competitive gymnast growing up, definitely gave me a taste for the feeling of accomplishment you get performing in front of an audience. So, I think my love of performance started there. I was propelled into acting when I started taking a serious interest in the drama program at my high school. I started learning the craft of story telling, doing plays and making some short films, and it felt so creatively rewarding. I was very studious, but I was most happy when I felt creative. Acting just felt like such an unconventional, creative path. I was hooked, for better or worse.
Which actors body of work have had the most positive impact on your own career thus far?
I really admire Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain, they both seamlessly transition from comedic to dramatic roles and although they are both sex symbols, they both portray really strong women and are incredibly talented. They both also struggled early in their careers to really gain traction in the business, and they persevered. At the moment, I’m really inspired by Greta Gerwig. Her performance in 20th Century Women is just… perfect.
What was your first big role and how did you react when you finally landed it?
My first big role? I guess it was when I booked the lead in this totally ridiculous low budget feature film called “The Sisterhood”. I was so young and had so much to learn! But, man was I excited. It was a total campy horror film, but I took it just as seriously as any other job. I mean, I booked a role in a movie! I was really doing it! My mom was so proud of me.
You’re currently on CMT’s Sun Records. How were you first introduced to the series?
My agent sent me an audition for it. My friend taped the audition for me and we sent it off to casting, and that was that. I didn’t know anything about the story and I hadn’t even been sent a script, so I didn’t even know what I was auditioning for! I just knew what was in the small bit of pages that I had been given. It wasn’t until I got a callback for it and read the script, that I found out it was about all of these iconic characters in history. I remember reading it and thinking “Oh my gosh! Elvis and Johnny Cash are characters in this story! How cool!” Then, I got to do some research on my character Becky Phillips and I was blown away that I hadn’t heard the story of Sun Records before. It really is such a poignant story in American History.
What was it about the script that made you want to jump on board and be a part of this project?
I was most attracted to my character Becky. She was completely unlike any character that anyone had ever let me play before. She was conservative and strong, in the face of a lot of internal and external struggles that came along with being a woman in the 1950s. It’s also just… the story of the birth of rock and roll during the civil rights movement in Memphis. It’s such a rich time in history, of course I would want to be a part of telling this story! It’s a dream.
On the show, you play the role of Becky Phillips, the wife of Sam Phillips, played by Chad Michael Murray. What are the many sides of Becky and what do you enjoy most about playing her on screen?
Well, Becky is a strong wife and support system for the craziness that is her husband, as well as a present and loving mother. But, the most fascinating part about the real Becky Phillips was that she started a career in radio when she was in her teens, and maintained a career, while still being a devoted wife and mother. With her husband, she went on to start the first radio station in the country with an entirely female staff. It was called WHER (W”her”). It was so progressive for the 1950s, I mean that would be progressive by today’s standards. I guess I enjoy playing her because she’s complicated, and complex, and strong. Besides, any day I get paid to play make-believe is a pretty magical day. I’m so lucky to do what I do.
Being that this is based on actual events, what kind of pressure or challenges did you have to keeping the series authentic?
Well, there’s a certain pressure that comes along with playing a real person in history, for sure. There’s always a chance that you could effect that person’s story and the way that person is remembered, forever. But, we also knew we weren’t making a documentary. Our story is a scripted, fictional drama, based on real events and real people in history. So, we did have quite a bit of creative license in that way. I also didn’t have the pressure that the guys had who were playing these iconic characters such as Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. No one really knows who Becky Phillips is, so for the writers as well as myself, there was freedom in that.
What can viewers and music fans alike expect to see from the first season?
It’s sexy, and funny, and really beautifully shot. And, the music gives you chills! It’s a coming of age story about all of these people before they were famous and successful, and how they got there. These people were imperfect. There’s infidelity, and financial struggle, and racial turmoil, and lots and lots of attractive guys singing iconic early rock and roll and blues tunes, sometimes shirtless. Did I mention it’s funny? There’s so much more comedic relief than I even knew from shooting it. Our director Roland Joffe really created an original tone. There’s something for everyone.
When it comes to fashion, who are some of your favorite designers and what style of clothes appeal to you the most?
Most of what appeals to me is something I found on a bargain rack, but still looks amazing! I grew up pretty lower-middle class and I’m always worried about not being able to take care of myself, so Im very frugal. I don’t spend much money on clothing! But, I love fashion. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to buy a pair of jeans that cost more than $80 without having that horrible shoppers-remorse-hang-over afterwards.
We look forward to seeing you on Sun Records. What other projects do you have coming up?
Fingers crossed for Sun Records season 2! I’d love to get to tell more of Becky’s story.