Jossara Jinaro: Pure Inspiration by Triantafillia Memisaki

Photography by Vanessa Preziose
Feature Cover Story by Triantafillia Memisaki
Editor: Ramona Gonzales

You may have seen her in movies such as “Collateral Damage”, or “Chicago”, you may have even heard her voice in “Happy Feet 2”. Whatever your experience with Ms. Jinaro, I’m sure it was an astounding one. We’re talking about a young lady of many talents. She acts, sings, dances, plays musical instruments and is even good at a surprising array of sports! There is nothing this woman can’t do!

And now, she’s given The Revista Magazine the honor of a feature interview I therefore proudly present to you: Jossara Jinaro!

When did you realize you wanted to act?
When I was a little girl I would love to sneak into the TV room with the adults and watch the old black and whites. Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Barbara Stanwyck… They seemed to float through the air. They seemed to jump through the screen and make people laugh and cry. I wanted to make people feel passion like that so I decided to jump in.

Have your loved ones been supportive of your choice or do they disapprove of it?
I left home at 16 and since then I’ve been lucky enough to create the family I want to have. People that I respect and whose qualities I admire. I’m blessed to be surrounded by friends who love and support the journey I’ve chosen.

What was your first big break and what did it do to help advance your career?
The first big one was the Columbia Tri-Star sitcom VIVA VEGAS. Being a regular on a show gave me the credibility I needed to get in the door to studio films, which is the reason I got into acting in the first place.
How did you do in your very first audition? Can you describe to us what it was like for you?
It was this play about a little orphan girl who was able to talk to her Mother in heaven through these angels around her. We were all in the theater together watching each other’s auditions. Brutal! I closed my eyes and pictured my Mother, which brought tears to my eyes. I got the part.

Have you had any formal training or studies regarding acting? If so, do you feel you would have been successful without training?
Yes, and I still study my craft. Richard Lawson, whom I deeply respect, guides my practice. Painters, dancers, singers… they practice their craft on a daily basis. Pavarotti was still taking voice lessons [until he gave up singing]. Maybe you can make it [without training] in the beginning, but at some point you have to deliver the work.

Can you describe to us how easy or difficult it was to get an agent?
My last year in college I was recommended for a play at the American Conservatory Theater. I went in to read for the role and this woman in the room came up to me afterwards and asked me to sign with her. She became my first agent and lucky for us I booked the role.

You have acted parts in theatre, television and film? Which do you prefer and why?
What I love is being a storyteller. As long as it’s a good story that moves and excites me it doesn’t matter if it’s theater, television, or film.

Have you ever played a bad guy? If so, do you prefer it to playing the good guy?
Yes, and I love it. You have to go into your shadow and dive into the scariest parts of yourself. I’ve always been a big daredevil. Love daring to be bold!

Who has been your favorite character that you played so far?
I don’t know. There are so many parts that I’ve loved. If she’s smart, strong, sexy, has an opinion, and [is] not afraid to be vulnerable I’m thrilled to dive in!I understand you have given your voice to quite a few well-known animated features. How did that feel compared to acting in front of the screen?

I love the puppetry of voice-work. I find it gives me a chance to play in a whole different way. I mean how often does one get to be an animated penguin? How fun!

How do you get into the role of your character? Is your process different for voice-over work as opposed to a live role?
I always look for a hook and usually it’s my first thought right after I read the material. Like, I just read this screenplay and the first thing I thought was “this is a cat and mouse game.” I then went through the script and played with the moments where I’m the mouse and the moments when I become the cat. This will now inspire me with lots of ammunition for rehearsals.

Not only do you act, but you also sing. And very beautifully, I might add. Is there any part of you that wanted to be a singer instead of an actress? Or would you prefer to stick with acting and just sing occasionally?
My BFA is in Musical Theater, so I got to play Velma in CHICAGO and Lola in DAMN YANKEES… great roles I would never get to play if I didn’t sing, but other than singing in my living room with my guitar or in the shower I have no other singing goals.
Have you ever had to do more than one project at once? Was it a challenge that you welcomed or a necessary evil you’d like to avoid?
Yes, and it is challenging but very rewarding too.  Right now I’m preparing a woman who confronts the man who tortured her husband to death, and a free-spirited flamenco- dancing gypsy who’s wise beyond her years. Where one woman is bound the other is free and because I’m working on both at the same time one journey informs the other. There is where I can really delineate each character.

Is there or has there ever been anything else in your life other than acting?
Dancing feeds my soul. I was once part of a professional modern dance company and [competitive] salsa. I’ve studied belly dancing, flamenco, Bollywood, tango, hip-hop, you name it. Dancing has always been my drug of choice!

Dare I ask… is there a special someone in your life?
Ha! Ha! No.

What would you say it’s like trying to date in the acting business? Some actors say it’s easier and some say it’s harder than dating in any other business.
Yes, it’s different for everyone. There is good and bad. Someone in the business can be very understanding but could be competitive. Someone outside the business can be a breath of fresh air from the work but could be jealous and possessive about “love” scenes. For me that person has to love, support, and accept who I am, and being an artist is part of the package.

Everyone knows how hard it is to score an acting job. Does that mean you also have other professions in between? If so, what kind?
The last few years I’ve been acting full-time but early on I did other jobs like running a non-profit [organization], go-go dancing, MC for company pic-nics, and the most rewarding was: teaching Middle School math & science. I had no plans to become a teacher – . I was recruited during the SAG strike. But it was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. My students were by far the toughest audience I’ve ever had, and believe me, there are no standing ovations in the classroom. Once in a while I’ll get an e-mail from a student telling me I inspired them in some way and I sigh with relief.

Do you try to help upcoming actors, or are you just focused on your own career at the moment?
I’ve taken many actors under my wing throughout the years. I also volunteered at SAG, served on the EEOC and Latino subcommittee, and chaired the committee responsible for the first SAG study “Missing in Action, Latinos in and out of Hollywood” in conjunction with the Thomas Rivera Institute. It’s too hard to do it alone. You need a community where you can feed and feed others.

Could you share with us the saddest moment of your life?
I had the privilege to study with Milton Katselas. He was one of the greats and I can honestly say the mentor who made me a real actress. He also taught me that life IS a celebration and to wear my badge of artist with pride. The day he left this world is the deepest heartache I’ve ever known… because he saw me. He really saw me.

Now to end this on a lighter note, care to share with us the moment that most made you feel proud of yourself.
From time to time I get these crazy ideas to take on something that will make me feel like a superhero. I’ve ran marathons, been skydiving, zip-lining through the jungle, white-water rafting, and most recently jumped from a cliff down a waterfall in Costa Rica.  I usually throw my arms up in the air and scream “I did it!” That’s when I’m most proud.

A truly fascinating look into the world of Jossara! We thank her deeply for her time and wish her the best of luck in the near and not-so-near future with all her endeavors. If you’d like to learn more about her and stay in the loop with all her projects, you can check out her blog at : http://jossarajinaro.blogspot. com/. If you’re as impressed as we are and would like to cast Jossara in a role, you can find her online resume, as well as her bio, pictures and reels at: jossarajinaro. You’re welcome!

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