Jussi Jenssen

Jussi Jenssen on stage at the 2014 McDonald's Sydney Eisteddfod. Photo: WinkiPoP Media

An interview with Jussi Jenssen

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Jussi Jenssen, winner of the 2015 Sydney Eisteddfod Actor’s Championship for ages 16-21 years, tells us about his passion for performance. 

What was it like to win the Sydney Eisteddfod Actor’s Championship (16-21yrs)?

It was very exciting, especially because I have been competing in the junior division for a couple of years. I'm still only 15 years old, so I wasn't sure how I would go in the senior division this year. I think I performed at my very best, so I was extremely pleased to win.

Who inspired you to start acting?

One of my mum's best friends, the incredible Australian pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska, suggested I should start competing in Speech & Drama competitions when I was 8. So, following her advice, I began with reciting poems, which slowly progressed into character/acting sections. Then, I started doing shows when I was 11, playing the Artful Dodger in the musical Oliver!, and I haven't looked back since. I really enjoy being on stage and I hope to make acting a part of my career.

Which other performers do you most like to watch, and why?

I take inspiration from people like Benedict Cumberbatch, who is not only a fantastic actor but also uses his voice exceptionally well. Good vocal usage has been drummed into me my entire life by my mum, who is also my teacher, so I really appreciate actors who can convey so much through their voices. I also love listening to good opera singers, my favourite Australian singer at the moment being Nicole Car, who also happens to be a wonderful actress.

Tell us a little bit about the item(s) you chose to perform at the Actors Championship.

I presented three works: one from Animal Farm; a poem, Legend by Judith Wright; and a scene from Shakespeare's Richard II. My teacher suggested a scene from Richard II, a play that I really love for the poetic beauty of the language. This scene is from the third act, in which King Richard returns from a military campaign in Ireland, only to be confronted with the news of his imminent dethrownment. This scene is incredibly poignant, because it marks a point in his life where he truly realises that he is merely a mortal.

What are you most looking forward to in 2015/2016? 

I university  this year (2015) and it was a lot of work, so I suppose I'm just looking forward to my holidays when I can dedicate some time to improvising and playing the piano and having some time off!

What did you do to prepare for your performance? 

I didn't have a lot of time this year, so I didn't have much time for preparation, but I have been steadily building my repertoire and experience through other competitions for many years now, so that has really helped me to perform at my best despite the lack of preparation time. For people thinking about entering Sydney Eisteddfod, I would advise them to compete and perform as much as they can to gain experience, and remember to have fun without taking it too seriously!