Humans of Harker: Jessie Skinner imbues her plays with activism

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Humans of Harker: Jessie Skinner imbues her plays with activism

“Nowadays, a lot of the times the way female characters are interpreted or written are sort of whiney,

“Nowadays, a lot of the times the way female characters are interpreted or written are sort of whiney," Jessie Skinner (12) said. "There’s only three things that they can be like: The fat best friend —been her, the nagging wife — been her also, or the super dumb blonde. . . These roles that are mostly portrayed as a not nice female word. [I believe in] bringing in these points of view that are ignored. You just have to find that the sliver of message in every show.”

Devanshi Mehta

“Nowadays, a lot of the times the way female characters are interpreted or written are sort of whiney," Jessie Skinner (12) said. "There’s only three things that they can be like: The fat best friend —been her, the nagging wife — been her also, or the super dumb blonde. . . These roles that are mostly portrayed as a not nice female word. [I believe in] bringing in these points of view that are ignored. You just have to find that the sliver of message in every show.”

Devanshi Mehta

Devanshi Mehta

“Nowadays, a lot of the times the way female characters are interpreted or written are sort of whiney," Jessie Skinner (12) said. "There’s only three things that they can be like: The fat best friend —been her, the nagging wife — been her also, or the super dumb blonde. . . These roles that are mostly portrayed as a not nice female word. [I believe in] bringing in these points of view that are ignored. You just have to find that the sliver of message in every show.”

by Gloria Zhang, Asst. Features Editor

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She may be performing in a setting of a mental asylum as a 2018 student director or dancing towards the chapel in a sparkly silver dress in the annual dance production, but Jessica “Jessie” Skinner (12) shines under more than the spectacle of theatre lights.

“I am a theatre person. I think it’s more than just acting,” she said. “It’s all aspects, like doing costumes. I play in the orchestra, and I sing — I’m working on dancing — and I direct and write. The reasons why I do theatre is the message and the activism you can do with it. It’s been on the forefront of change and being used as a tool for change. Most people see [politics and theatre] as a stark contrast, but they goes together.”

Jessie’s close friend Nastya Grebin (12) appreciated her outspoken personality, highlighted by her ability to call out misogyny and general ridiculousness in everyday media.

“We decided to watch ‘Lady Bird,” Nastya said. “The most fun part was when were settling down in the theatre, there was an ad for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with a very corny poster line . . . the entire theatre shushed down. She goes and says, ‘That is so cheap.’”

As an actor and director, Jessie employs her feminist attitude onstage. She believes addressing the problems of our society is a step towards equality.

“Nowadays, a lot of the times the way female characters are interpreted or written are sort of whiney,” she said. “There’s only three things that they can be like: The fat best friend — been her, the nagging wife — been her also, or the super dumb blonde. . . These roles that are mostly portrayed as a not nice female word. [I believe in] bringing in these points of view that are ignored. You just have to find that the sliver of message in every show.”

She believes that tiny details have the power to convey larger themes.

“Even one word can change the entire meaning of a play,” she said. “When I put on a show or am acting, even if I don’t have a choice in [the play], I definitely find a part in it that people need to listen up or can relate to,” she said.

Her Student-Directed Showcase play, “Chamber Music,” was a model example of expressing her voice to the audience. The show featured an absurdist perspective, with intimations of issues ranging from mental health to the Vietnam war. To Jessie, theatre communicates more than plain entertainment — and she offered some advice to the audience of her show.

“You have to be able to reflect on it right after,” she said. “Search for the symbolism. Invest yourself in it. It is an allegory of the Cold War. How women throughout history have been treated. I’ve even made the doctor really creepy. I chose the show before the indictments and Harvey Weinstein . . this is my one chance to get a lot of people to listen to me. Be willing to analyze. It was pretty specifically thought out.”

But before the acting, before the humorous accents and punchy lines, Jessie is a friend. As she herself stated, “I really love dogs. I rescue a pug and bulldog. I’m not always political.”

“[She] tends to try to bring the positive — the positive, the bright, the loud,” Nastya said. “[There’s] quite bit of depth to her. She does possess a emotional sense when something is wrong. She can be a wonderful loud friend when you’re sad.”