pleased to meet you


︎ USA
april 16, 2021

Please introduce yourself in one sentence:

I’m a former theatre director who navigates chronic illness while being a mom and wife and expert Netflix watcher. 

What’s been keeping you up at night? 

My worries at night are like a greatest hits record. I play the same tunes nightly, which include, “am I doing well as a mother, wife, person- will something terrible happen tomorrow?”  

If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would love to have tea with C.S. Lewis and talk all things theology, literature and beauty. I’d also like to have tea with Noel Coward and gossip about all things theatre, wit and people.

What are you working on right now?

Thanks to this chronic illness, my “work” has been relegated to getting through the day successfully. I don't have the joy of working in the theatre anymore, but I do love creating stories at my art table.

What are some of the shoulds you are trying to shed?

I keep my shoulds big. The regulars are: “I should be doing absolutely everything better. My house should be cleaner. I should be thinner. My art should be gaining more likes. My daughter should be blissfully happy all the time.” 

What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?

A day spent going to a coffee shop, a museum and a play would be a dream.

What was the last thing you read?

I switch between silly and serious reading. Most recent reading was, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin (My admiration for Eleanor Roosevelt only grew)

Have your ever disliked something and then changed your mind?

With a little tongue-in-cheek, I’ll say, I often disliked men, but several good ones changed my mind. Most importantly, my husband, Jon, who is a superhero. 

How do you take your coffee?

With friends, and almond milk.

What is your definition of success?

Leaving people around me feeling more joyful, calm and understood. This may sound very “feel good” but when you’re home and ill all the time, your goals shift dramatically. Before becoming sick, I had a huge list that equalled success, but now, it’s short and laser focused. 

What are you most proud of in the last year?

I’m very grateful to the Doug + Laurie Kanyer Art Collection for underwriting my book, CUT IT OUT: Theatrical Set Collages. Laurie Kanyer talked me into a publication, and it took a great amount of bravery on my part to go for it.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why did you do it?

Pregnancy and giving birth was THE scariest thing I’ve ever decided to do- by far. I’ve performed in front of hundreds, moved to new cities completely solo- I could tackle most challenges, but the thought of actually having a child was so overwhelming it almost kept me paralyzed. I had a high risk pregnancy but thankfully, a healthy baby who is now eight years old and utterly adorable (and sassy). 

What’s on top of your bucket list?

My bucket list used to be long, but now, it’s more like a post-it note. I want to be healthy enough to see my daughter’s school plays, soccer games, help her get ready for dances and navigate the world as a woman. 

How would your friends describe you?

I don’t believe in horoscopes but I have to say, I’m a classic Scorpio and Enneagram 4. Very passionate, loyal, empathetic and way too sensitive. 

If you could time travel, when and where would you go?

There’s never been a better time to be a woman, that’s for sure. If I were a man, I’d like to travel to Edith Wharton’s early 20th century New York City. I’d like to walk under the gas street lamps, stroll the newly completed Central Park and to dine with the great literary figures of the day. 

What really makes you angry?

Tribalism. The current rhetoric that is all emotion and very little reason. It seems no one has the patience for nuance or going beyond the popular group think. It’s exhausting. 

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

I’d be “Energy Girl!” I’d have just enough physical energy to live a happy and full life. I’d also like to sprout gills and swim with whales. 

Do you hit the snooze button or wake up immediately?

SNOOZE indefinitely. 

Which fictional character do you relate to most?

Alice in Wonderland. Alice fell down. She is alone, confused and doing her best to find her way around a world that doesn’t make sense. She’s trying to find her way home. 

Which of your personality traits are you most proud of?

I’m grateful for my ability to connect with people of a variety of backgrounds, personalities and proclivities. I enjoy being around a wide range of characters. 

What is one thing you will never do again?

Give birth. No amount of fame or fortune could persuade me. 

If you could join any past or current band, which would you want to join?

I’d like to travel with Lyle Lovett and His Very Large Band. He’s so funny and such a gentleman. They seem to have a lot of fun.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I would say, I’m 70% Introvert and 20% Extrovert and 10% Undecided 

What's the most unusual thing you've ever eaten?

All kids try eating dirt, right? I think that’s it. Oklahoma red dirt. 

Is your glass half full or half empty?

It depends on the day. The glass stays the same, but I see it differently each day. 

Jennifer Sampson @scissorsandstories