Ted Sod: Where and when were you born? What made you decide to become an actress? Where are you getting your training? Do you have any teachers who you feel have had a profound influence on you?
Jordyn DiNatale: I was born and raised in New Haven, CT. That is why I was so thrilled to do the first run of Napoli, Brooklyn at Long Wharf Theatre, a theatre I grew up seeing shows at. I made the decision to be an actor professionally when I was about twelve years old, but I fell into it earlier than that. When I was seven, my older brother was auditioning for Carousel at Act 2 Theatre which is also in New Haven. I asked my parents if I could audition too and they were shocked because I was a very shy kid. I sang the only song I knew, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and the next thing I knew I was in the chorus. I performed in a few more plays at Act 2 over the next three years. Acting in that old, haunted theatre is one of my favorite memories. I've collected many ghost stories from there! When I was twelve, I told my parents that I wanted acting to be my career. From that moment on, they never stopped helping me make that a reality. I received some of my training from Educational Center for The Arts (ECA) in New Haven. Most of my training is from different acting teachers in NYC. The teacher who has had the most influence on me is Anthony Abeson. He always helps actors find the humanity in their characters and reminds us how important the actor's role is. He reminds us how the writer is saying something to the world with their words and is entrusting us, the actors, to deliver that message. Anthony is just an amazing person and fantastic coach and his classes have really helped me feel comfortable tackling challenging work. My peers in his classes are the most loving and supportive people and it makes the whole learning environment so special.
TS: Why did you choose to play the role of Francesca in Meghan Kennedy’s Napoli, Brooklyn? What do you think the play is about?
JD: I really fell in love with Meghan's script. Seeing a story that features strong female characters is definitely inspiring. And I like that it centers around a close Italian-American family because growing up in an Italian family myself, I can relate to a lot of the family dynamics. The emphasis on cooking and the way that food impacts the Muscolino family's daily life is a quality that is also close to my heart. This play is about so many things for so many people. That is what I think is so special about it, it has the ability to touch everyone in all different ways. The struggles of being an immigrant, the clash of old world and new world values, finding who you want to be while everyone around you is telling you who you have to be, having dreams but not knowing what to do with them. After reading the play through for the first time, it reminded me of the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes in which he asks, "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?" I feel like all of the characters in this play are at their breaking point and they all explode in their own ways.
TS: How is this character relevant to you? Will you share some of your thoughts about who your character is with us? What do you find most challenging/exciting about this role?
JD: Francesca is bold and fearless. She questions everything she's been taught. She knows what she wants and she tries her best to make it happen. I can relate to Francesca in this way. It sounds silly, but when I was younger I loved learning new words. Whenever I learned a new word, I would try to use it in as many sentences as I could (annoyingly so!). I remember when I learned the word persevere. I loved it! Whenever I finished something difficult I would proudly tell my parents that I persevered through it. Perseverance became a part of my identity, as it is very much a part of Francesca's. Playing Francesca is exciting and challenging because I am portraying a character based on a real person, Meghan's mom. There is a huge responsibility in that. Also, I am often cast as a meek character who is trying to find herself. It is exciting to play a character who knows so definitively and unapologetically who she is and instead of trying to find herself, she is trying to find where she belongs.
TS: At this point in your process, how do you understand Francesca’s relationship to her sisters?
JD: Francesca has a tug-of-war relationship with her whole family. She loves her sisters, but she doesn't think they see her for who she really is. And that is really all she wants. I think she is closest to her sister Vita and confides in her the most. Vita likes philosophy and questions things too, so I think Fran has learned a lot from her and thinks Vita is the smartest person she knows (besides herself!). Fran and her eldest sister, Tina, have less in common, but I think Fran really admires Tina's physical strength. Fran knows that Tina will always be there for her and ready to protect her, which makes Tina a really comforting presence in Fran's life.
2016-2017 Season, Napoli Brooklyn