Jhenai Mootz is currently staring as Olivia in Festival Theatre audiences have known for years how wonderfully versatile an actor she is from her roles in Richard III, Dancing at Lughnasa, Arms and the Man, Much Ado About Nothing,  Murder By The Book, & Picnic.

Says Jhenai of her years with Festival Theatre: “Since 2006, the people of Festival Theatre have nurtured me as an artist and as a person: it is almost as though they have adopted me.  You don’t find that kind of support just anywhere and so my goal as an Artistic Associate is to pay that kindness forward so more folks find the kind of inspiration and mentoring that I have found here.”

One of the many ways Jhenai is contributing is her overhaul of the website. In addition to her acting and artwork, she is one half of Renegade Website, a website construction company.

_0965316348Acting is not her only art. She is also a talented visual artist. “I am crazy for texture and color in language or in the kind of art  that can be seen and touched. I incorporate words, text, into my creations.  I have found that by implementing striking images and vibrant colors combined with textures (gold leaf, mirrors, embossing, sand, pressed cork, and more) I can give a fresh new look to words that have inspired us for centuries. Most of my current work is in mosaics done on functional artwork such as mirrors, coasters, coat racks, benches, and tables.” Check it out at www.jhenaimootz.com.”

“My artwork can currently be found in downtown Chicago at ARTS & ARTISIANS, the Andersonville Galleria, Fortunate Discoveries, the Galleria in Evanston… and come September my work will be carried at a gift store in O’Hare Airport’s terminal 5,” Jhenai reported.

When asked about the similarities and differences in her two highly subjective, critical disciplines, she answered:  “Acting is a collaborative art form. You are a part of a whole, no matter the project. You can come with very definite opinions, but you have to bend and weave with the director’s vision and with your fellow actors. It can be frustrating and brilliant because you are never alone when creating.”

“With the visual art, I have complete control.  And at the end of the day, be it good art or bad, I have a physical product that I can look at and say: “I made that”. When acting, you can have a brilliant moment or performance… and then it is gone, an ephemeral moment that only exits in memories. Both are devastating, gorgeous, heart-rending and inspiring ways to make art. I use them to balance each other out.”

Speaking of heartbreaking, she has in the past played many ladies who were unlucky in love (Chrissy, Hero, Lady Anne). Her take on her current role of Olivia is very different from the lovelorn others. “Olivia is a breath of fresh air!”