Laura Benanti On Her Character Jenna


In the New York Spring Spectacular, Laura Benanti plays Jenna, an internet company executive who is driven by a singular vision to take the world online. “Jenna is a technology guru. She’s like a Zuckerberg. She is trying to take over the world virtually so you never have to leave your home,” said Benanti. “It’s not with mal-intent, it’s just convenient — and it’s not dissimilar to what we’re doing in real life.”

While Benanti loves her iPhone, she is slightly alarmed about the rise of technology in modern life. “Children are now technology natives,” she said. “They are born into a world where at two years old they know how to work an iPhone. They are taking selfies already! It’s terrifying.”

“Over the course of the 90 minutes, my character learns that we need to have more human interaction than just being on our devices,” said Benanti. It’s a lesson that she hopes that the audience will take away with them, too. “I’m hoping that families will leave the show and put their devices down and walk around and just be with each other,” she said.

While Benanti hopes the New York Spring Spectacular will give its audience a renewed respect for real-life interactions, the actress is anything but a luddite. “Have you seen the Hot Dudes Reading Instagram?” she asked. In addition to Instagram, Benanti is a big fan of Twitter. “I’m super heavy on it,” she said. “There’s Facebook, too, but I only check it to see pictures of my cousins and to learn what people had for breakfast and their political views.”

Benanti appreciates respectful fan interactions, but sometimes fans get overexcited about spotting the Nashville actress. “Yesterday I was on the subway and someone took a picture of me and then tweeted at me, ‘is this you?’,” she said. “And yes, it is and that’s really creepy.”

Even that won’t get her offline, though, because sometimes Benanti just needs a cute animal fix. “Sometimes you’re feeling sad and just want to look at a cute animal pictures and there’s a Twitter account for that,” said Benanti. Even Jenna would have to agree that the internet was created to share cute animals pictures.