Intrepid Spirit Blog
|Posted on August 23, 2016 at 3:40 PM|
Thanks to cyberspace I am happy to say that I've been friends with Jen Ponton for about seven years! I had been writing for Plus Model Magazine and she sent me a lovely email about one of my articles. At the time she was an aspiring theatre actress who was longing to play a leading lady in a romantic comedy. It was obvious to me from the get go that Jen would go on to do great things. You can tell just by looking at her early headshot that she's got that " x factor." Right?
Fast forwad seven years and scrolling down my facebook stream is Jen Ponton looking like a million bucks and playing opposite the hunky Steve Howey of Shameless fame! And not just a leading lady in romantic comedy--but and adventure film to boot! If you're reading this the film just came out and you can catch it on VOD and Digital as of Friday August 26th: DirecTV, Dish Network, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu & Hoopla!
JONASSEN: Tell us about Love on the Run!
PONTON: Love on the Run, directed by Ash Christian (Petunia, Miles, Hurricane Bianca) is a romantic road comedy that has major flavors of John Waters and the Coen Brothers. I star as Franny, an irrepressibly optimistic (and rather naive) romantic who's waiting for her Prince Charming to arrive. When he (Steve Howey, Shameless) shows up--robbing a bank and taking her hostage--Franny is convinced that he is The One. We're joined by Frances Fisher (Titanic) as Delores and Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex) as Liza, Franny's incapably codependent mother and sister. It becomes a wild goose chase as Delores and Liza pursue Franny...who may never want to be rescued!
JONASSEN: Tell us more about your role in the film.
PONTON: Franny, in so many ways, is my dream role. As a woman of size (and an active part of the FA community), it's really important to me that we not only see women of size on camera, but that we see them genuinely loving themselves just as they are. It's also important to me that we shatter the stereotype of insanely beautiful, thin, white women as the only options for love interests. Franny defies both of these stereotypes, as a woman who truly loves herself and has zero abusive commentary on her body, and as a woman of size who is portrayed as lovable, sexy and charming.
JONASSEN: She sounds amazing! I'm so glad to see the tide is turning--and that you are pioneering these roles what was it like working with Steve Howey?
PONTON: Steve and I had a great time together! He's great on Shameless, but as anyone who's seen Reba can attest, he's just hilarious. So in between looking freaking terrifying (with his ponytail and him standing at roughly 6'4"). And there was a ton of trust between the two of us, which allowed us the freedom to really invest in the scenes and play together. There's a lot of 'stuff' going on between Rick and Franny--attraction, homicidal urges, manipulation. So trusting each other was really important.
JONASSEN: You've been cropping up all over! The other day I saw you on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and I literally cheered! Tell us some tidbits from the set--and OITNB if you can.
PONTON: It was wonderful to work on both of those shows! Orange was wonderful, Nick (Caputo) was such a nice guy. Since we were on-location, I didn't shoot at Litchfield. With Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I had the delightful situation of Tina Fey writing my role for me--not to mention getting to work with a lot of the crew from 30 Rock again, so that was a fun reunion! Ellie Kemper was an absolute delight. And I guested opposite Jeff Goldblum, who is just as much of the hologram unicorn that you would hope he is. Every last bit.
JONASSEN: What has your experience been like as a plus size actress?
PONTON: It's funny; we've circled back to this since talking so many moons ago! I mean, as a plus-size woman, of course--inner struggles most of my young life, and outer struggles. I was bullied for a long time. I was body-shamed by boyfriends. I was called Miss Piggy for years at camp (and only now as an adult think HELL YES SHE IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL.) But in acting, it's a bit more freeing. Franny is one of the only roles I've played that specifically wanted an actress of size. And, you know, I think that speaks to a lot of success of getting known for your skills and not just your niche. But I also HAVE played some roles specifically for larger women (Blue Bloods, King Kelly) and they've been pretty juicy (pun intended). I will say that it can be tough being a 'niche,' because they don't often think about MANY niche actors together--there's lots of super-hot-very-thin-white actors and one or two token niche actors (whether that's ethnicity, size, gender, etc.). But that too is changing bit by bit. Overall, I see it as a blessing. It took me a long time to really unreservedly love myself, and now I work in a field where I hope I can be seen as a role model. If I had seen more women of size treated with respect in entertainment growing up, it would have made all the difference in the world to the way I saw myself.
JONASSEN: Where does your courage come from?
PONTON:Oof, that's a good question. I think it's just the rage/refusal of what was SO oppressive and miserable for so long? That makes sense, right?
JONASSEN: Any advice about finding courage?
PONTON: Ultimately? ...life is really, really short. It's a blip. And much like other unpleasant things, it SUCKS to look back and see how much time you spent feeling awful about yourself rather than appreciating what you had, and really being in the moment. The same way you can look at pictures of yourself when you were 16, 17 years old and say, "Oh my God, what was I thinking? Why was I ever worried about my hips, my belly, my arms?" That applies to every year of your life. So I think it's a dramatic reclaiming of joy and presence--in your body and in the moment. THAT is the fuel for courage.
Film avail on VOD and Digital as of Friday August 26th: DirecTV, Dish Network, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu & Hoopla