Jen, Jen & Jen

A blog post about three actresses called Jennifer may seem like a departure, but bear with me and I think you’ll see where I’m heading. Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Aniston seem to be everywhere—even for those of us unable to name their recent movies without a search engine. I’m not a particular fan of any of these Jennifers, but I also have nothing against them. They personify the current crop of actor/personalities, so they are a great starting point for this post.

Successful actors can, and often do, become “cottage industries” based on the persona they project to the public. As a creator of characters in fiction, I’m interested in how these public personalities are developed, exploited and maintained. Do we want to wear the clothing line of Jennifer Lopez? Do we trust Jennifer Garner when she promotes a credit card? And do we think our skin will be as smooth & clear as Jennifer Aniston’s when we see her in skin care TV commercials?

Each of these actresses has cultivated a kind of credibility that survives outside of their acting careers and real personal lives. The personae they created persist through successful movies & bombs, marriages & divorces, rumors & scandals, and even candid photographs taken without the aid of make-up artists, stylists & perfect lighting. Actors doing commercials is nothing new, nor is it new for an actor to lend (or more precisely sell) their name to a fashionable product. Remember Elizabeth Taylor and White Diamond Perfume?

Still, the three Jens are perfect examples of upbeat, down-to-earth, confident sales people, speaking in their own voices and talking about products and projects (new films, TV shows, music, etc.), with consistency of character. And yet, I’m certain that I’m not alone in thinking that the public personae are not the same as the private. They are actors, after all, and they are acting in commercials and in TV interviews, just as they are acting in movies.

I’m wondering about the stamina, devotion, and sheer focus that it must take to maintain that kind of character. It’s funny because I am most attracted to more elusive actors—the actors that seem most comfortable in scripted drama and less polished in real life encounters.

As a creator of fictional characters, I’m fascinated by the three Jens and their creations—are they real? Are they more real than fiction?

Actors flesh give life to characters, but what about the characters they play while being themselves?

Actors give life to characters, but what about the characters they play while being themselves?


  1. I think we all play a ‘part’ to some extent. At work we are ‘professional’. With lovers we are sexy. With kids we’re kind and patient. Are they all fake? Or are they all aspects of our personalities that are drawn forth in response to some perceived need?

    I know my twilight years are going to be spent as all of me, warts and all…well, as close to that ideal as I can get. As for the three Jens, maybe they just take our normal human behaviour to a higher [or lower] level. 🙂

    • Candy Korman

      I think you’ve nailed it! We are series of characters throughout our lives. I’m just wondering how I can apply this understanding to characters in fiction? Thoughts on that??? The sustained energy involved in maintaining the perfect persona, does it make the core human crack? Or does she become the character she has created?

      My cousin is a few years older than me and we were just talking about accessories and fashion. She’s decided that she has reached an age where anything goes. She doesn’t feel like she has to please anyone but herself. Sounds pretty good. To thine own self be true.

  2. To go from the comment above, I think many people do become the character they create. All of life is a narrative we choose to tell ourselves, and often we live out the same story because we don’t know how the change the narrative. Right now, I’m delving into the concept of radical honesty–the complete opposite of crafting personas.

    • Candy Korman

      Radical Honesty! Wow!!!

      I try to be true to my word and true to myself. Sometimes it’s a struggle, as it’s all too easy to drift toward the little lies, the pleasing embellishments, the temptation to behave in accordance with the expectations of others. I think the personae we create for business, for school, for our neighbors…. are often variations on our real selves and I suspect that the three Jens are, at least in part, real. But since they are actors, the credible pitch ladies in TV commercials and TV interviews, may also be pure inventions. Sustaining these inventions is fascinating feat.

      Am I working my way toward creating a character with a calculated and false face? Maybe… Are you creating a completely honest character? Or are you embracing radical honesty in life? Either way… I’d love to hear how things play out.