When I asked theater major Johanna Jacobsen of her adoration for the stage, she said “I would hate to do something that I don’t like every single day just because it’s practical.”
Johanna is much more than just an actress. She loves to climb basically anything she can and attributes this to her love of heights as well as her childhood, where she grew up climbing trees. Interestingly, she has never hurt herself climbing or broken a bone—though she has needed six stitches after being hit with a rock while on a roller coaster. All throughout school, she was avidly involved in music, and she used to be involved in horseback riding. In her spare time, she enjoys catching sand crabs.
Johanna is a junior at Vanguard who has recently discovered that she will be graduating next semester. Leaving Vanguard with a baccalaureate in Theatre Arts: Performance and Directing, Johanna will end her college acting career having completed roles such as Aphrodite in Metamorphosis and Paulina in The Winter’s Tale. A lover of camels, the oboe, and Shakespearean monologues, Johanna admits she is not quite sure what she will be doing after her graduation.
“I have a lot of ideas,” she shares. Outside of her theatre degree, she would like to take part in an immersion program, preferably in Central America, to help her learn another language. She would also be interested in moving to the LA area or even New York to pursue her craft.
“I just want to act,” she adds, noting her interest in theatre, film, and ministry, “I think that anything can be ministry and anything can be a missions field so where that ends up being, I don’t know.” A resident of Sequim, Washington, Johanna already traveled far beyond its border to Switzerland and Madagascar on a Youth With A Mission, where she was able to cultivate her blooming love for acting and ministry.
One thing that Johanna’s time as a theater major has taught her is to “do what you love and not what’s practical.” She feels it is important to find a passion, and take the risk to pursue it. It has also taught her to know where her motivations lie. She recounts that certain people will say “oh you just want to be famous and a celebrity” but she knows that is not the case, saying “ I want to do what I love, you know?”
Though she had never been to Vanguard before she moved into the dorms, its impact on her life is unforgettable. She gives great credit to the professors, especially those in the theater department. They care for their students and what they are going through, whether or not it is related to theater. Their investment in the students lives and intention on growing each individual is something Johanna will remember for years to come.
Before she had switched from Musical Theater emphasis to Performing and Directing, she took a the Musical Theatre Auditions class. Not being a strong singer, she was terrified of the weekly performances before the class every Wednesday. She felt intimidated by others in the class who were more experienced than her. By the consistent aid of her T.A., however, Johanna grew in confidence. Two seniors in the class also practiced with her late at night in the music basement. “Even though they had busy schedules, they would help me to sing in front of a class, not even for a show” Johanna says. And even though her talent is not singing, these people were working with her knowing that she was gifted. This experience helped her understand that to love and follow acting did not require her to excel at singing; this act of kindness truly helped shape her as she passed through her years in the Theatre Department.
Pursing acting, however, has not always been easy. Johanna shares that a common misconception about theatre majors is that it is an easy major. In reality, each week theater majors commit dozens of hours on homework, classes—most prominently—shows. Even outside of this, there are the doubts from friends and family that are eager to know what the “back-up plan” is. Johanna explains “the moment you say you want to pursue acting, people look at you like that’s not going to work.” This is not a way that she believes anyone should make their life decisions. No matter what someone is aspiring to be, Johanna gives this advice: “We do this life once, we might as well do what our passion is.”