Jennifer Howard, who started working at Juilliard in 2005, comes from a theatrical family. Her parents both acted and sang opera and her mother has a music degree. Her father is still acting—doing commercial, emcee, and voiceover work (including recording the Costume Shop voicemail message). Jen started gravitating toward costume work after a seventh-grade home economics course turned her on to sewing, but her onstage career began when she was 5 months old: She played the baby in a "Fiddler on the Roof" production in which her parents were acting. Jen was born in Frankfurt, Germany, where her father was stationed with the Army, and grew up in Northern Virginia, where he worked at the Pentagon. Her first paying job was at the Kennedy Center, when, as a sixth grader, she was a supernumerary in "Das Rheingold" with the Berlin Opera. (“I still have the first dollar bill I earned,” she reports.) Since receiving her bachelor’s degree in technical theater, from what is now Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Jen has worked at Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge, Mass., Virginia Stage Company, the New Harmony Theater, Shenandoah Summer Music Theater, and in Miami both as a freelancer and at Coconut Grove Playhouse.
What is one of your favorite memories from your seven years here?
One fun thing is the people you see. One day after work, I saw President Obama’s motorcade driving the wrong way on 65th Street. Another day, I grabbed a quick lunchtime pedicure and ended up sitting across from Tony Danza, who was getting his own pedicure.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
I would try out the president’s job. It would be fun to see what that position does and also to meet with so many different people.
Why did you go into theater?
When I went to college, I had to choose between a degree in theater and a degree in business. I chose theater, but now I’m interested in pursuing a career in business and I’m studying for the GMAT.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had?
I’ve had many strange jobs. Working the local crew on the Miami leg of The Producers national tour. Steaming Kenny Rogers’s clothes for a concert in Key Largo and then having to weave through a parking lot full of souped-up golf carts on my way back to my car. Tying obis on a kabuki show with the troupe Nakamura-za at the Lincoln Center Festival—following tradition, we weren’t allowed to wear shoes backstage and had to iron and fold the clothes on the floor. One time, doing a crazy quick change with Tony Randall, he was injured during the show and bleeding from his ankle—I helped him clean up and he went right back out on stage. Another time, Mark Hamill borrowed my cell phone. Later, he demanded that I borrow his phone so that he could return the favor. I used it to call everyone I knew, and nobody answered. He was upset because I wasn’t able to prank anyone with his phone (no refrigerator-running or Prince-Albert-in-a-can jokes).
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do?
I’d probably not let anyone know and either be a tourist in the city, or go to the movies or Barnes & Noble, or have a nice meal, or go to the spa. Then I might go home and pretend that I was at work all day.
How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
I personally don’t consider myself an artist; however, I do play a fair game of balancing job and life: I have three amazing daughters, Jasmine (11), Rebecca (4), and Nathalia (3).
What was the best vacation you’ve had and what made that trip so special?
In the summer of 2011, I met my husband’s family for the first time when we went on a trip to Ecuador. It was such a wonderful experience for me—I can’t wait to visit again. Family is the most important thing in the world for me. This summer I was able to go on many mini vacations including visiting family members in Virginia and Washington State.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I was a Girl Scout through 12th grade and received my Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts.
What are you listening to?
I listen to my iPod at the gym and XM Satellite radio in my car—the Beastie Boys, Eva Cassidy, Pearl Jam, Lauryn Hill, Cody Chesnutt, and Jason Mraz (a college classmate). I was sad to watch the final episode of The Closer, but I’ve been enjoying Major Crimes, on which another friend from college, Ransford Doherty, plays Kendall, the coroner’s investigator.
What social media do you follow
Facebook: I can keep up with high school and college friends, and share pictures with family all over the world.
What’s your favorite thing about New York City?
I love the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building (which my husband, a general laborer with Local 79, works on sometimes). My favorite thing about New York City is the way the city changes your life in ways that you could never imagine. I met my husband randomly as I passed by his work daily on my way to work. This city has ways of surprising you, inspiring you, and shaping who you are—it’s magical.