As you might expect from someone who counts Johnny Depp as her favorite actor, Jessie Horman likes to reinvent herself with each role she plays.
"Every movie he's in, he's a completely different person," Horman said in a recent chat at Boardwalk Bread 'N Bagel. "He becomes the character. I think an important thing in acting is to be that person in the story. That's what you're doing, you're acting. I've been lucky. In the roles that I've played, I've had a lot of different variations in characters."
In July, the 22-year-old Nisswa resident left audiences in stitches with her turn as a trumpet-playing stripper in "Gypsy" at Central Lakes College. She'll perhaps leave audiences in tears when she plays the depressed, often-drunk widower Beatrice in "The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" Tuesday through Nov. 25 at CLC's Dryden Theatre. Written by Paul Zindel, the popular off-Broadway production earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1971.
Horman doesn't go so far as to use Depp's method acting approach, wherein an actor "becomes" the character on and off the set. However, she sometimes feels aspects of Beatrice seeping into her daily life.
"(That's) bad for this play," Horman said. "She's not the happiest person. She's bitter about the world."
Horman, a 1999 graduate of Pequot Lakes High School and a 2003 graduate of CLC's technical theater program, often relies on the guidance of director Dennis Lamberson when creating a new character. ("Dennis is really good about sitting down with us and asking us questions about the character -- why is she saying this, why is she mad?" Horman said.) But for the role of Beatrice, who is dealing with the death of her father and departure of her husband, Horman tapped into her own recent loss.
If you go
What: "The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds"
Presented by: Central Lakes College Theatre
Director: Dennis Lamberson
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Nov. 22, Nov. 24-25; 2 p.m. Nov. 23
Where: Dryden Theatre, Central Lakes College
Admission: $5 (public), free (CLC students), available at CLC Bookstore
Terry Ament, the oldest of Horman's three sisters, died in March after a year-long battle with cancer. Compounding Horman's grief, her dog -- "my best friend since I was 7" -- died soon after.
Ament, who was 15 years older than Horman, had a motherly bond with her younger sisters.
"She always watched out for the rest of us," Horman said. "I know what it's like to be upset and realize there's nothing you can do about any of it. I think this character I play has a lot of sadness."
It wasn't long after she learned to walk that Horman exhibited a love for entertaining people. A homemade skit called "The Misfits," performed by Horman and her sisters and cousins, was a regular feature at holiday gatherings. Horman took dance classes in elementary school, and soon got involved with volleyball and softball.
But in her senior year at Pequot, she decided, "I'm gonna be in a play instead" and was selected for the role of Martha in "The Crucible." At CLC, she landed a small role in "Cabaret" before being cast as one of the four main characters in "Going to See the Elephants." That was followed by two student productions and the memorable supporting role in "Gypsy."
Like "Gypsy," "Gamma Rays" explores a flawed mother, a talkative-but-shallow daughter (Ruth, played by Vincenza Spagnulo of Brainerd) who is following in her mom's footsteps, and another daughter (Tillie, played by Cassandra Peterson of Brainerd) who is a ray of hope for the future. Despite the turmoil at home, Tillie focuses on her science project involving gamma rays and flowers.
Horman's future no doubt will include more plays in the Brainerd lakes area. However, she's not planning to be the next Johnny Depp. She views acting as a hobby, not a career, and aspires to someday own a shoe repair business.
"Acting is a hard thing to get into, especially as a living," Horman said. "Around here, it's like, 'Good luck.'"
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