SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Missy Jenkins: I am a health policy advocate in Washington, D.C. for the Alliance for Aging Research. I worked for many years for the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. So health policy is my day job. But I grew up around the theatre as my mother was very involved in community theatre so it’s always been a love of mine.
SKSM: ¿Why do you use a nickname?
Missy Jenkins: I use a nickname because it’s a southern thing!
SKSM: How did you become involved in The things they left behind Dollar Baby film?
Missy Jenkins: I met Duba Leibell, the film’s lead producer, working on a televisión pilot project. We hit it off immediately and, after our project concluded, she convinced me to work on this film with her.
SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?
Missy Jenkins: I think almost everyone has a personal connection to the events around 9/11. I know I do. I was in Washington, D.C., on 9/11 when the Pentagon was struck and there was a real fear that the other plane was headed toward the White House very close to where I worked. So I think people connect with the film on an emotional level.
Also, this film is not a documentary. It’s fiction. I don’t think many people have seen a fictionalized versión of 9/11 events. It deals with the emotions of surviver’s guilt and loss. The everyday lives of people that are completely thrown into chaos. Whether it’s the main love story of our film, or the couple who had been together for a long time, or the couple going through a divorce. It could have been anyone’s story of 9/11. And it addresses sensitve issues in a sensitve way. We had many conversations about how to portray the characters with the utmost respect.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Missy Jenkins: I had to audition. I don’t think Sara Werner had any idea I had a theatre background. We were auditioning the other actors and during a break, I blurted out that I wanted to audition for the part of Barbie. By this point, I was already eating and sleeping Barbie so it wasn’t a real stretch for me to tap into who she was and what her emotions may have been.
SKSM: You worked with Sara Werner on this film, how was that?
Missy Jenkins: I am a very big Sara fan. She brings so many strengths to the table in terms of how thorough she is, how prepared, how thoughtfully she approaches the characters, and how unbelievably well she works with the actors. I wore several different hats on this film with Sara. She exceded all of my expectations.
SKSM: In addition to playing the role of Barbara Hargrave you were the producer of the film. What was more difficult to do?
Missy Jenkins: Definitely producing. Trying to make all the trains run on time when misstakes happen and things get delayed is a very difficult space. Duba really was the one who led the team and I was her sous chef. For example, we ended up setting off the fire alarms for one of the shots and the Miami firefighters showed up. We had the permits and everything, but there was a miscommunication and the smoke alarms weren’t covered. Duba and I were worried about unexpected production expenses on an already tight budget. But the firechief could not have been any nicer. It turns out he was in NYC on 9/11 and our film resonated with him. So this fiasco of fire trucks swarming our set turned out to be a poignant moment.
In terms of playing Barbie, I’d say the most difficult thing was that it was so emotional to tap into that pain. There was a book written, Sonia’s Ring, about a family reunited with the mother’s ring after 9/11 through DNA testing. Can you imagine someone showing up at your house years after your mother has passed away in 9/11 and them giving you her ring that you thought was lost forever? When Tom’s character returns the object to me, all I could think about was Sonia’s Ring.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Missy Jenkins: Yes. Maria Elizabeth, who did the hair and make up for the film, and I are very close personal Friends. She was doing my make up for Barbie and I told her I was going to do my scene in one take. And I did. The cast and crew really appreciated the break of ending the day early. I was wearing my producer and actor hat at the same time.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Missy Jenkins: Yes, a lot actually. Duba and her son Zach who was also in the film. Sara, Mike Gabriel another producer, and Maria Elizabeth. We also have a private Facebook page where we post periodically and I watch what the others are up to via Facebook.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Missy Jenkins: I’m doing my health care work and writing on the side. My current screenplay is about a a quirky young woman in Charleston, S.C., who is an aspiring chef whose dating life is in shambles.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Missy Jenkins: I am most definitely a fan. We all grew up on his works whether we knew they were his or not. He has the most loyal following I have ever seen.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Missy Jenkins: That I’m a gentlewoman farmer.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Missy Jenkins: I’m so grateful that people are connecting to the film. I’m very proud of the work of our team.. If anyone feels that maybe they aren’t alone in their feelings of overcoming pain and loss after watching the film, then I think we will have been successful in achieving our goals with this film.
SKSM: Do you like something to add?
Missy Jenkins: I want to thank you for taking the time to focus on our film and our cast and crew.