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Welcome to the site! You are here because you are interested in the comic actor Jennifer Lanier or you took a wrong turn on your way to reading about Jennifer Lopez or Bob Lanier.

Now that you are here, check out the site. Later there will be information about booking our hero for stand up sets, emcee action, or for one of her solo comedy full length shows.

Jennifer Lanier is a classically trained big brown lesbian actor who stumbled into an improvisation class and was changed forever. After having the opportunity to work with Robert Moyer and Paul Sills, original directors of Second City, Jennifer started creating solo projects that leaned heavily on the funny. One result, NONE OF THE ABOVE, is an award-winning show that has been seen all over the US and Canada. She is currently acting and doing stand up comedy in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her wife, two sons, dog, 2 cats, & an anorexic tortoise.

An Actor of Color Speaks 

My name is Jennifer Lanier, Co Artistic Director of Original Practice Shakespeare Festival. A couple of days ago, I found myself remotely in front of a granting organization to talk to them briefly about what OPS Fest is doing to further equity, diversity, and inclusiveness and how I thought this organization could support us in that work. I talked about our online shows: our experimenting with remote performing, what worked, what didn’t, how we engaged our audience directly, and what we wanted to try next. I made them laugh frequently and answered questions and the call ended and I could not stop crying. I cried because all my theatre’s equity work did not stop those four cops in Minneapolis from killing  George Floyd. I cried because all my theatre’s focus on inclusiveness did not help three white men in Georgia see Ahmaud Arbery as a person jogging instead of as a threat to be extinguished. I cried because all my theatre’s work on diversity did not stop the police from assuming that any black person is a guilty black person and raiding the wrong apartment, killing Breonna Taylor. I cried because in order to guarantee that this big brown butch lesbian made it safely to my upcoming doctor’s appointment and back, I felt the need to ask my blonde, blue-eyed son to drive me.  

I am expected to write a well-reasoned, clear response to everything that’s happening in the country right now. I’m expected to exhibit calm and thoughtfulness, maybe even a little wisdom and hope. The problem is I am so angry. As a black woman, as a person of color, as a queer woman who is frequently mistaken for a man, I know that every time I walk outside, I am in danger from police. Every time I get behind the wheel of a car, I am in danger from police. Every time I play an intense character in the park, I am in danger from police. Every time I stand up for myself and my rights in public, I am in danger from police. So it’s hard for me to remain calm, cool, and collected in the face of this particular national upheaval. As artistic director of a theater, I’m supposed to talk about how we are standing by George Floyd’s family and standing by the beautiful people who are so upset about this heinous act that they are braving a pandemic to exercise their First Amendment rights. And I do. And my theater does. But the fact of the matter is I’m pissed as hell. And you should be too. “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is democracy in action. It’s Civics 101.  

Barack Obama wrote in the Medium today, speaking of this tragedy and the nationwide response, “the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States… [and] yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.” Many people used the phrase often credited to former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, “all politics is local.” Friends, there is an election coming up in November. Pay attention to the local and state races. They are the ones with the power to appoint the change-makers in police reform. They are the ones who decide whether more money goes to riot gear or arts in public schools; to tear gas or support for houseless folx; to checking federal government boxes on “substantial compliance” or giving the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing real power to fulfill the spirit of their mission.  

I write this today as the voice of my theatre company. OPS Fest stands with our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends as concerned citizens, as queer people, as people of color, as straight allies, as white allies. We are tired. We are heart-broken. We are angry. We say, loudly and clearly, BLACK LIVES MATTER. BLACK LIVES MATTER. BLACK LIVES MATTER.  

With you all in the struggle, 
Jennifer Lanier, Co Artistic Director  
Original Practice Shakespeare Festival 

Buy Me a Coffee 

Sometimes I don’t have anything particularly inspiring to say. Just that I hope y’all are okay. My family is doing what it can right now. We are trying to keep our heads above water but I am the only financial support and my work all dried up. We are hoping that one job will come back but I will believe it when I see it. Until then, my mother-in-law is keeping us fed and in toilet paper. I did find a cool way to get a little extra. It’s called “Buy Me a Coffee”. Here’s the link: 

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JenLanier 

You click it and you can do what you would do if we were together right now instead of in quarantine: you would buy me a coffee. If you want to do that, cool. If you want to share this site with other artist friends, please do! I hope many folks can utilize this to help them out in this wacky time.  

Until next time, stay safe, stay home. Read something funny. 

Working from home: an adventure 

My friend, Chris Murphy, shared some thoughts about working from home. I added a few of my own. Hope these are useful to y’all.

1) Create a schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible. That sounds pretty basic, but it is vital. Creating a daily triage always makes me more productive and feel accomplished at the end of the day. However, family dance parties are legit schedule breakers!

2) Do not work in the same space that you sleep. If you live in a small studio apartment, that can be difficult… but do what you can to separate your work space(s) from your sleep space.  Note that pets rarely follow this rule as everywhere in the house is a sleep-&-work space.

3) Work at keeping your home clean. A messy and cluttered room slowly saps my energy and fills me with a slight sense of tension that can have severe ramifications part way through the day. So do your best to do a 15-30 minute power clean first thing in the morning when you wake up (or before you go to bed if that’s your thing.) I will literally set a timer on the microwave each morning and clean stuff as fast as I can.  This will keep you from considering homocide when the kids “forgot” to clean the kitchen the night before.

4) Open windows and get in some natural light and fresh air.  Take the dog outside yourself this time!

5) Take a shower in the morning and get dressed like you would be going out. This is so so so important. I know everyone jokes about working from home in your pajamas and not showering all day. HAHAHA… so funny, it’s the best… yeah, I get it. BUT, that wears off REALLY REALLY quickly. You work from home now, take it serious. Showering and getting dressed does this weird mental shift in your brain which tells your mind and body it is ready for work. You will be more productive, and more importantly you will feel better.  When the cat sniffs you and does that weird-smell-cat-face, you know it’s been too long.

6) Get your emotions in check. If you’re like me and you need to be around people… working from home can get really lonely and leave you feeling weird. Feel the feelings, that is fine… but, don’t let your feelings make decisions for you. Drink water. Stretch your legs. Put on music. Go for a walk. Depression hits at random times when you are extroverted and work from home.  Remember they are your spouse/partner/child/UberEats driver and NOT the enemy.

7) Sit at a table more often then you sit on your couch or a comfy chair… your body will thank you for it, plus… the moments you decide to reward yourself by sitting on the couch with your laptop for an hour or so, will feel so much better.  The dog will disagree. Do not listen. The dog is compelling. DO NOT LIS...and we’re on the couch.

8) Mute conversations on Facebook messenger. SLACK however can save your life! Check it out

9) Stop checking your email all day (unless you have to). If possible set times for when you deal with your emails.  You don’t OWN me!

10) Instrumental music is your friend. YouTube has some great coffee house music mixes which is really awesome for background noise.  All Classical 89.9 is my jam!

11) If you are hopping on Zoom meetings, give yourself 5 minute buffers to join the room. With so many people working from home, Zoom and other conferencing tools are being a lot slower than normal. Expect it to happen.  Remember: they aren’t trying to mess up your day. Their dog HAD to go out NOW!
 

Remember: stay home, stay safe, love each other!

This is NOT us 

I was heading into a grocery store and I saw a young woman come running out with a small bunch of groceries in her arms. The clerk was running after her and a passerby grabbed her and stopped her, hollering, “get a job!”  

The young woman let go of the groceries, grabbed her bike to takeoff. She said “I’m just hungry y’all.” I turned to the clerk as he was walking back in the store with the groceries and asked “can I just buy those please and give them to her? I’ll pay for it don’t worry about it.” He said , “It’s too late for that. She steals. It’s not worth your time.”  

I went over to the young woman and said “I’m sorry I don’t have any cash on me. Do you have any where I can shoot some money to you?” She said “no it’s OK I’m just hungry.” I said “Cool. I’ll buy you some stuff and bring it to you.” She looked at me and said “I’m OK.” And she got on the bike and took off.  

What are we becoming? “Get a job!” Really?! I have three jobs and no work. I don’t see myself stealing. Yet. But really, what kind of people are we becoming?

Love in the Time of Corona 

There are approximately 160,000 actors in the United States. At any given time, roughly 1% are working. That is less than 2000 actors working. I am usually part of that 1%. In 2019, I worked in conventional union theatre and film in Portland Oregon for 20 weeks. I am also Co-Artistic Director of Original Practice Shakespeare Festival which performs Shakespeare in parks around Portland Oregon in the summer so add 12 weeks to that. And I work as a Standardized Patient (an actor who augments the training for medical, nursing, and other students in case simulations) at a major medical university. Those gigs are generally a day or so long. Added up, probably 10 weeks. I also teach workshops in acting, Shakespeare, auditioning, improvisation, and gender illusion. Call that 2 weeks. Out of 52 weeks last year, I worked as an actor for roughly 44 weeks. I earned about $40,000 for that work. I support my family of four (and Miles the dog & Ginny Weasley the cat) and receive few benefits: sick pay (when I call in on days I am working), free parking and lunch at the Standardized Patient job, comp tickets to shows. No medical, no 401k, no vacation pay. I’m not complaining; I know what I signed up for when I chose to be an actor. When so many of my colleagues don’t work as much as I do, I consider myself lucky. As the song says, who could ask for anything more? 

Then COVID-19 hit the world. And in a matter of days, I watched as all my work for the next two months (and likely more) was cancelled. Suddenly, thousands of dollars in income was cancelled. It’s terrifying. Some people have understanding landlords who are cutting their rent in half for the next few months. My landlord is not. I am contacting the utility companies to ask for some leniency so fingers crossed. I have already used our savings for my wife’s unexpected medical costs. It is hard to ask, friends, but I need some financial help.  

Whatever you can do, thank you. Your generosity is always greatly appreciated. And there are some premiums available! See, it’s just like a public radio fundraiser except my premiums are personalized! I am a talented writer & actor and I am happy to create a lovely, funny personalized special song for a birthday, anniversary, congratulations, etc. A video will be sent of me performing their special song to the person you are celebrating, continuing the social distancing we are all learning to live with. Happy to literally sing for my supper! If a song is not your speed, I can write a fun personalized poem for them (wacky rhyming is my specialty!) and perform that on a video for them. You don’t even have to know right now. You can hit me up for that video when you are ready; I am flexible.  
My email to reply is jenlanier25@gmail.com 

 

My email for PayPal is jenanddustina@gmail.com 

My Venmo is  

https://venmo.com/code?user_id=2175113726263296958

Y’all have always been so wonderful to me and other theatre artists and I know many folks are asking. Please keep me in mind as you make your giving decisions during this bizarre period. I thank you. My dog Miles thanks you. And Ginny Wesley the cat thanks you. 

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OPSFest Online: AS YOU LIKE IT

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Our wonderful improvised Shakespeare company is doing shows online now with all the actors participating from their own homes! We still have our scroll, you can still boo & cheer (from the comments section), and the prompter will still interrupt the action from time to time! AS YOU LIKE IT: Frederick exiled the rightful Duke to the Forest of Arden. Orlando's brother won't raise him right. Orlando and Rosalind fall in love. Frederick banishes Rosalind. The girls escape to Arden (Rosalind cross-dressed). Rosalind gets Orlando to pretend she/he is Rosalind and woo her. A god appears and performs many marriages.

Want to donate? https://www.buymeacoffee.com/OPSfest