Jenette Jurczyk wears many hats: national director of That’s What She Said, owner of Key Light Consulting, Girl Scout troop co-leader, co-founder of The Family Room, Junior League of Champaign-Urbana member, the brains behind the shoe drive held at the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, mother to Geneveive, 7, and Juliana, 6, and wife. Throughout her many roles, her work stays true to empowering women through the sharing of stories and giving back. ‘I am very passionate about making the world a better place.’ On the eve of the sixth installment of That’s What She Said — Saturday at Champaign’s Virginia Theatre — Jurczyk opened up to News-Gazette staff writer Alexandria Kobryn.
Tell me a bit about your background in theater.
I received my bachelor’s in fine arts from the UI and spent a few years in New York before moving to Los Angeles. I studied theater with some amazing teachers like Steven Randazzo, Stephanie Feury and Shari Shaw. I also spent a summer at the British-American Drama Academy in Oxford, England, studying Shakespeare, which was a transformative experience.
Have you had the opportunity to see any plays on Broadway? Which was your favorite?
The first Broadway show I saw was “Phantom of the Opera,” with the original cast of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Some other fond memories include getting a tour of the stage and set of “Les Miserables” and meeting Adrian Zmed after his performance in “Blood Brothers.” My all-time favorite musical has always been “Grease.”
If you could go back in time and experience, for the first time or over again, a specific event or day, what/when would it be?
I would go back and relive Aug. 16, 2008, my 34th birthday. That was the day my husband proposed to me. We had been friends for 16 years, and it was that year that I finally knew he was the one. ... He made a tremendous effort to get everything lined up so that he would be visiting me in California and my best friends and our parents happened to be visiting ... so while we were at lunch, he took me for a walk to a lighthouse overlooking the beach and got down on one knee and proposed. I know I said yes, but so much of that day is such a blur, I’d love a chance to relive it to take in all the details and remember the joy of that day.
If you could be remembered for one thing, what would you want it to be?
I would like to be remembered for inspiring people to live life fully, without numbing their emotions. I would like to help as many women (and men) as I can find their voice and share their stories. I believe everyone has a story worth sharing, and those stories are a gift. I think we are so quick to numb ourselves and disconnect ourselves and avoid true, meaningful human connection. Through my work with the She Said Project, I hope to raise as many women’s voices as possible, empower teen girls to believe in themselves and encourage that deep human connection we all long for.
If you could have dinner with a celebrity, dead or alive, who would it be?
I would love to have dinner with Oprah and Ellen Degeneres. They are some of the first women to create space and empower people to share their stories. They move the conversation forward and use their statuses to create so much good in the world and give back.
The best advice you’ve ever received?
Long ago, a mentor of mine told me the phrase, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” And I find that it keeps coming up in my work and life. I pay attention to how I approach anything and how those choices reflect in other places in my life.
What’s a piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
First, I would tell people who are striving to build companies or create movements that empower others to think big thoughts and give them a lot of energy. The universe has a crazy way of lining up all the cooperative components for you when you focus your vision forward without worrying so much about the “how.” Then you have to get out of your own way by deleting negative thoughts and doubts and fears.