If you have ever been in a theater production, you know the heart-pounding feeling you can get right before you step on stage. It can be an exhilarating experience and one that drives many people to keep performing. For Zoe Jensen, an Alpha Gamma Delta alumna, being on stage to perform for others brings her joy. Now, Zoe gets to perform in her favorite role yet – Eliza Schuyler in the Broadway production of “Hamilton.”
Zoe has had an affinity for music since she was young, taking violin lessons and singing whenever she had the chance. “I have always been singing,” Zoe recalls. “I think it comes from watching Disney princess movies and wanting to sing along with them.”
Though she has been singing since she was young, it wasn’t until middle school when she starred in her first musical production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
It was thanks to the encouragement of a teacher that Zoe became interested in performing on stage and since then there has been no stopping her. “I was hooked after that show, and continued to work on musicals throughout my high school career,” Zoe says.
Preparing for Eliza
When asked how you prepare for a role like Eliza, Zoe says she has been preparing all her life. She attended college at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she majored in Musical Theatre which gave her the foundation of acting, dancing and singing that she needed to build a successful stage career. But, Zoe says you need more than the ability to act, sing and dance to make it in the professional performing arts world.
“It takes stamina, self-discipline and thick skin,” she says.
As a Broadway show cast member, Zoe performs eight shows a week and has to always be at peak performance each time, which can be emotionally and physically tiring. Having the stamina to keep up and show up as your best self is vital, she says. You have to be aware of your limits while, at the same time, push yourself to reach your goals. Zoe also commented on rejection in the industry and the need for confidence and resilience to pick yourself back up. “Your success in this business does not define you. That’s something I always remind myself,” Zoe says.
Since Zoe discovered this was the path for her, she has had a support system of friends and family cheering her on along the way. These supporters are her motivation each night when she steps on stage. “I know how much faith, support and money they have put into me over the years,” Zoe says. “I feel like it is my duty to do the best I possibly can.”
The audience also acts as her motivation. Bringing them joy is just one of the many reasons why Zoe loves what she does. She says she does each show for the audience keeping in mind that “Maybe there is someone who hasn’t had the best day and is looking for an escape or pick-me-up.”
Looking back at her past roles and the love and support she has, Zoe says she is living her dream. Having the opportunity to be on Broadway and in a show she is proud of has left her feeling grateful. However, the future is bright and the best is yet to come.
“My dream role is one that probably hasn’t been written yet – I’d love to have more opportunities to originate some.”