Jenn Lyon is an undeniably talented actress, who is able to charm any viewer with her comic wit and dramatic abilities. Frequently shifting between TV and theatre work, Jenn has proven to be extremely versatile whilst playing various characters.
Her first recurring role was in FX drama ‘Justified’, where she played Lindsey Salazar. Since then, the North Carolina native has starred in numerous shows including ‘Phil Spector’, and ‘Saint George’. Her theatre credits include Broadway comedy ‘Fish in the Dark, ‘The Coast of Utopia’ and ‘Hold On To Me Darling’.
Now, Jenn is preparing to wow the world again in TNT’s new drama-comedy, ‘Claws’. We recently caught up with her to discuss her role in ‘Claws’, her theatre work, how her Southern roots prepared her for life in New York, and much more.
First off, we’re excited to see you in the new TNT dramedy ‘Claws’! Can you tell us about the show and your role in it?
‘Claws’ is a show about badass women, specifically 5 nail techs in Florida who also happen to be laundering money for an opiate clinic as well as being the best nail artisans in Manatee County. It’s about surviving and making your way with your chosen family, no matter what. It’s funny and sharp and scary and I’ve never seen anything like it on TV. I play “Jennifer” and she is a former party girl, now tenuously sober who has two little girls and a husband who is also a recovering addict and she is Desna’s (Niecy Nash’s) best friend.
What attracted you to the role of Jennifer?
Unemployment. That and it being the best script I had read in so long. Also the other ladies that were in it were so good that I couldn’t believe I would get to keep company with them.
‘Claws’ has a great female led cast – the five of you look like squad goals! What was the filming experience like with the cast?
We have the best time and I laugh until I pee just a little bit almost everyday.
Did anything particular funny/memorable occur whilst filming?
So many things but I don’t know if any of them are appropriate to print. Everyone in the cast and crew have this mix of mischief and complete dedication that makes for the best kind of clowning.
‘Justified’ was your first recurring TV role. How did life change for you after that?
I mean, I was slinging pizza for concerts in Central Park right after I got home so, not a great deal changed. I think once you recur though, what you have on your side is consensus- a group of people have said “we trust this person with more material than just guest starring.” And then that helps get your foot in the door with other projects.
Alongside TV shows, you’re also a theatre love, having appeared in numerous shows both on and off Broadway. What is your dream theatre role?
Theatre is my first and best love and I’ve had so many great opportunities to play and originate roles with the likes of Tom Stoppard and John Guare and Larry David–just beyond my wildest dreams. I think I would love to play one of those iconic Tennessee Williams roles like Blanche or Amanda. I also have a yen for playing the male and female lead role in “The Good Person of Szechuan.”
What’s been your most challenging role to play so far?
I don’t know if one particular role has been the challenge as much as the impossible standard of beauty women are asked to uphold in the industry. In the theatre, you are allowed to take up space but when I first started doing film and TV I couldn’t get arrested unless I was incredibly thin. But also, trying to be incredibly thin was a fresh hell of starving and shame. That’s also why “Claws” is so special- all these actresses are allowed to be their natural weight which is great for audiences to see.
You’re originally from North Carolina – how did your Southern roots prepare you for life in NYC?
I wept pretty regularly the first year I lived here because I had just physically never been around so many people, and I had never lived at the break neck pace and I was just generally over stimulated all the time. But being from small scrappy towns in the south and moving all the time (my dad is a preacher so we moved a lot) you are raised with a certain level of tenacity and grit in the face of adversity. My mama and pop never gave up when they wanted something or needed to affect change and that held me in the dark times.
When you’re not busy acting, how do you like to unwind?
I love lying down best of all things. If I can lie down and combine that with something else pleasurable like reading or petting a dog or eating cookies, I’m basically on vacation.
Aside from ‘Claws’, are there any other things in the pipeline for 2017 that we should know about?
Ethan Hawke has a movie coming out called “Blaze” about this country western singer/songwriter named Blaze Foley and I have a little role in that and Alia Shakwat is in it as well as Josh Hamilton and all these other great character actors and I’m real glad I got to do it.
Thank you to Jenn Lyon for her time! Make sure you check her out in ‘Claws’, which is coming to TNT on June 11.
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