Actress Jeanne Simpson is not the stereotypical Hollywood starlet. In between commercials and roles on Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, and more, she is a wife, mother, dancer, and blogger for Withings. While she reports on wacky fitness fads for this blog, her acting jobs entail just as much craziness. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to be an actress.
Funny, warm, and exuberant, Jeanne Simpson, pictured, would make the perfect best friend. But beyond her inviting personality, she boasts an impressive resume of acting, dancing, and choreography roles. While she’s appeared on some of the hottest shows of the past decade, Jeanne discloses that the life of a working actress is fun, but not particularly glamorous. But let’s back up to the beginning.
Dreams and Doilies
When Jeanne was 3, she landed her first part in a play. “I was a skunk,” she recalls. “I had black and white makeup and a giant tail, and I ran out during a picnic scene and scared everyone away even though I was tiny and stamped my foot and said, ‘I just don’t understand it.’ And the audience went crazy and laughed hysterically, and I was completely hooked. I was like, ‘Yes, I will do this for the rest of my life!’” Jeanne also began dancing at age 5, and continued starring in plays and dancing ballet throughout her youth. Her passion for the arts only grew, and she dreamed of being an actress, a dancer, or a choreographer.
Jeanne opted to attend Harvard for college, where she had the opportunity to work at the American Repertory Theater as work-study and earn her equity card. She also started her own theater company called Working Title Rep, which staged 12 shows during her undergraduate career. As a sociology major, she recalls that the head of the department was a big theater fan. “He would come to all my plays, so with my grades, he would write a review of my performance. So he’d be like, ‘This paper is an A-. However, you as Nina in The Seagull were an A+’ or whatever. It was hilarious.”
When Jeanne graduated, she moved to New York City to pursue her acting dream. “I was so naive, I thought that I’d go to New York and I would audition, and because I was a great performer, someone would discover me. And then the paper would spin and be like, ‘Simpson stars on Broadway!’ I had a completely 1930s version of what would happen.”
But becoming an actress is very tough, and Jeanne was extremely poor. She and her sister moved into the “Hungarian Hideaway,” an apartment building for expatriates. Furnished with the previous tenant’s furniture, “everything had a doily on it, and it was the saddest apartment. And the oven wouldn’t stay closed unless you propped a chair against it, which would get really hot, so you’d have to be really careful. And it had no address; you couldn’t actually ring the doorbell or come visit.”
Rachel is a copywriter at Withings and a fitness enthusiast who enjoys long-distance running, strength training, and yoga. When she isn't editing or exercising, you can find her singing a cappella or cooking healthy vegan meals in her tiny apartment kitchen.