Here to Be Here: Jenny Slate

4 years ago by

Photos Lou Mora

You may know Jenny Slate from her career in comedy with her starring role in Obvious Child, which seems more relevant today than ever. Or maybe you recognize her voice from animated classics like Zootopia or The Secret Life of Pets. She’s an Atelier Doré favorite!

I recently met up with Jenny at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. She was promoting her latest movie, Gifted, which comes out tomorrow, April 7th. She’s incredibly articulate, engaged, warm and just as funny as you’d expect her to be. Let’s catch up with Jenny…

pardon my french jenny slate garance dore photo

pardon my french jenny slate garance dore photo

On what her close friends call her…
Most of the people in my life call me Jerry. I love a nickname. It’s such a sign of intimacy and inclusion.

On what she wishes her name really was…
My name is Jenny and it does suit me because it’s always reminded me of like a bouncing rubber ball, very energetic. I talk about it in my stand up, but I love the name Susan and have always felt that my name should be Susan and I look like a Susan. So I feel like a secret Susan.

On her dad identifying as a poet even when he wasn’t writing…
It actually really helped me because it made me feel this feeling that’s like, you are an artist all the time if that is what is within you, even if you’re not doing your art right then. That it is always waiting to be activated in one way or another.

On not avoiding mistakes…
My parents exposed me to a really interesting variety of films. Usually films where it was a woman and she was up against a challenge but she used her intellect and freedom to make the mistakes that she needed to make in order to get what she wanted. Mistakes never seemed like something to avoid. It just seemed like being active was the most important thing and you’ll make mistakes, but restriction, repression, those are the things that lead to you to make mistakes that are harder to recover from.

pardon my french jenny slate garance dore photo

pardon my french jenny slate garance dore photo

On how she copes with the current political situation…
We all have power. One of the things I think this administration is trying to accomplish is to make us feel like we don’t have any power at all because they play by no rules except for their own. But, we are many and they are few.

On Planned Parenthood…
Planned Parenthood is a women’s health center. It is not an abortion factory. It is a place where women go to get general health care and the idea that that would be ripped away by men who are afraid of the power women have when they control their reproductive rights, is infuriating to me.

On being annoyed when people assume you’re heartbroken after a breakup…
The reason why I let any of this happen is because I’m strong enough to take a risk. Not because I’m some innocent person who got fooled into having sex. I am a WOMAN! I wanted to have sex because I’m alive and I love body to body stuff. I’m here to be here! It’s so annoying. Why must I be shunted into this position of someone who is sad, lonely and heartbroken when really, a lot of these people were lucky to have any of my time! I gave them a lot of fun and I had a lot of fun and I accepted their gift and they accepted mine and we went our separate ways because life is long and you gotta find the zone that’s good for you.

On the movie Gifted…
It’s nice to slip into something that’s a little bit more traditional. When I think about some of the literature I read in college, the things I loved the most were the pieces that were in a traditional form, but breaking them a bit. That is my zone. It’s that Yeats, T.S. Elliot zone. We’re so aware of the traditional forms, but we’re breaking the rhythm and introducing new imagery because that’s how you create life, you break the soil, you break upwards. That’s how I felt about being in this movie.

On balancing a public and private life…
It’s so hard. Because isn’t it delightful to talk about the ways in which our hearts are set aflame?! It’s so exciting! When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an actress and to be in love. That’s all I wanted. I was one of those little girls that saw people french kissing and stared at them like a crazy person!

On making lasting friendships with people on Gifted…
Obviously Chris because he and I dated for a while, and we were friends for months before we dated, and we’ve made a really beautiful friendship. And Octavia and I, as well. I hardly call anyone on the phone, and I call Octavia on the phone and she also calls, she’s good on the phone.

pardon my french jenny slate garance dore photo

Special thanks to the Four Seasons in L.A. Jenny’s film, Gifted, comes out April 7th. She has also re-teamed with Obvious Child filmmakers for the upcoming Landline, which Amazon will release July 21st. She next stars in Aardvark which will premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, The Polka King, and Brain on Fire. Check out her Twitter and Instagram to see what she’s up to lately!
Other Things We Discussed…
Planned Parenthood
Ruth Gordon
Empire Records
About the House, by Jenny & Ron Slate
Miss Rumfious, by Barbara Cooney



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