5 Questions: Jennifer Holliday

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Jennifer Holliday is scheduled to perform for nAGLY’s 25th Anniversary Concert at the North Shore Music Theatre May 13th

5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –

Over thirty years ago, Jennifer Holliday’s show-stopping, heart-wrenching performance of the torch ballad “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going” in the smash hit Broadway musical, Dreamgirls, made her a household name and introduced her big soulful voice to the world.

SD: Do you think your musical career would have taken a different course if it wasn’t for “Dreamgirls?”

JH: Honesty, I don’t believe I would have had a musical career if it wasn’t for Dreamgirls. Mostly, because I wasn’t really pursuing a musical career. Singing was mere pleasure for me. I enjoyed just singing in church. I planned on going to college and getting a job. After the show ended, I thought If I could make even one record that would be great. I feel if I was born a little earlier, I think my career may have been much better. Back then my weight was a problem, but now that wouldn’t even matter. 

SD: What does the support of the LGBT community mean to you?

JH: I think that Dreamgirls would not have been able to continue over the last 30 years without the love and support of the LGBT community. They really kept the spirit of Dreamgirls alive. They have kept my career alive. The overwhelming support that I received kept me working. I have always loved their support and mutual love. I owe the LGBT a great deal of love.  

SD: As a performer, why do you think you have resonated so strongly with the LGBT community?

JH: At the time, I was playing Effie, a lot of gay people were still in the closet. I think Effie became a symbol of fighting and feeling unloved. A lot of gay people were still feeling uncomfortable in their own skin and there was really nowhere for them to turn and because of that Effie really connected with the LGBT community.  

SD: I love that you are so vocal about your personal triumphs – obesity, depression, and multiple sclerosis. What have you learned about yourself as a person as you when through these?

JH: I would say to myself “Jennifer, do you want to live?” I would always choose life. Life has hardships and I think that on the inside you have to find the courage to fight for yourself. I always have to look further down the road and see the finish line. I’ve trained my mind to always choose hope. 

SD: How did you get involved with the nAGLY 25th Anniversary Concert?

JH: I am so honored to be asked to perform for this wonderful organization. The story goes that they have been trying to get me for a few years, and through a mutual friend tracked me down. It really touches my heart to be part of this night.  

For more information about Jennifer and to purchase tickets to see her perform at the North Shore Music Theatre on May 13th visit www.nsmt.org

For more information on nAGLY, visit www.nagly.org

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