You first knew her as America’s. Next. Top. Model (read it in your best Tyra voice) But Jaslene Gonzalez has gone from the runway to the opera stage in her role in The King & I. Next, she’s in the musical Los Secretos De Santa Monica at the Orpheum Theater. But before she take this comical and dramatic turn (and a bilingual one no less!), she sat down with us…
YOU WERE FIRST KNOWN FOR WINNING ANTM. WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE AFTERWARDS TO MAKE YOUR OWN NAME SEPARATE FROM THE SHOW?
Thank you! After winning ANTM I was solely focused on being a Top Model. I support myself through modeling and not by capitalizing on being a reality TV star. It is now that I have taken steps to create a business out of my name/brand. I have created ON SET WITH JASLENE, a comprehensive program designed to discover talented models and help them reach their full professional and personal potential. The seven hour curriculum, was made with the goal of empowering and nurturing young women. We launched in Nov 2015 and it was everything I had imagined and more.
NOW TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECENT EXPERIENCES IN THE KING & I!
The experience was so amazing! It doesn’t get any better than the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. This adaptation simply set the standard for me and it was fun to create. And here’s the thing; everyone got the same disciplined and structured treatment no matter your role. Even though I was an “Amazon” a small grain of rice in this massive production Lyric, Director Lee Blakely and Choreographer Peggy Hickey never made me feel that way. That had such a healthy effect on me.
I’ll never forget when our Director Lee Blakeley pulled me to the side and said, “Here’s the thing with theater: You don’t ask questions and if they don’t tell you anything it’s because you are doing it right.”
So, being a fierce Amazon felt natural to me like all of my nine years as a professional model, which I think prepared me for this role because they barely told me anything and I stopped asking questions.
THE COSTUMES ARE FANTASTIC! HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH SUCH BEAUTIFUL FASHION?
The costumes were breathtaking! I had no duties in the fashion department other than wearing the costume, but Sue Blane, the designer, is responsible for the coolest thing I have ever worn in my entire career. The show was a spectacle, and everybody had a piece of fabric or jewelry I wish I could wear in real life. Seriously, jaw dropping designs.
HOW IS BEING ONSTAGE SIMILAR OR DIFFERENT FROM MODELING?
I believe being onstage is a lot more different than modeling. There are many more things to worry about onstage than you do in modeling like memorizing lines, hitting your marks at the same time, acting with other people, etc. In modeling it is a singular job, but in this case we had a big cast working together performing tirelessly beyond ones power and the stage demanded that enthusiasm in every show.
THE SHOW JUST FINISHED A RUN IN CHICAGO. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT THE CITY?
My favorite part was being able to stroll on the bridge that connected to the Civic Opera Building and take pictures and enjoying the views. Also, the short distance from there to Michigan Avenue made for good downtown window shopping and actual shopping.
WHAT ARE YOU FAVORITE WAYS TO UNWIND AFTER WORK?
My favorite trick to unwind and disconnect is as simple as the NO TALKING rule. I do not talk. I just kick my feet up, hear no sounds, and react to nothing…and it works! I’m at ease and life almost feels brand new when I wake from my silence. Yoga, meditation, reading and praying to God are also the way to my peace.
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST PART ABOUT YOUR JOB?
The toughest part would be the road of rejection many of us face, but don’t care to mention. In the modeling and acting world we still have to make it to casting in order to be seen and booked. There is a sea of people fighting for that one role and sometimes you’re good enough for the call back, but not good enough for the job. It is hard to not take that personally. Rejection has happened to me more than once and even on national TV. It is really tough, but achievable when you have an attitude of not giving up.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO BREAK INTO THE WORLD OF REALITY TV?
My advice would be to have fun and make the most of it. I was so scared when I was on Top Model that I would run away from the cameras. Go get your close up!
AND THE FASHION WORLD?
Fashion is all about runway, attitude and walk – STRUT IT!