02.10 Actor Jennifer Antkowiak

Making the Dream Work ~ from Stage to TV to Print
By Tine Roycroft

Photo courtesy of Brendan Maness

Jennifer Antkowiak has talent in spades. She’s a triple threat ~ she sings, she acts, and her gorgeous face and smile can light up the darkest of rooms. She was voted “Most Musical” in her senior year of high school and was deeply involved in chorus and band performances while minoring in Music and majoring in Communications at Salem State College.

But how does a young and talented gal from Oxford, MA take her gifts, package them and market them to the masses? It hasn’t been an easy journey, but Antkowiak’s determination and supportive family have helped. After college, she stayed at home with her children in NH, dabbling in chorus and storytelling here and there ~ but as the kids got a little older, Antkowiak went a little deeper into the arts.

“When the kids were 4 and 2, we moved to Florida and I worked for Disney,” said Antkowiak. “I worked at Epcot Center, performing in shows. I danced as Winnie the Pooh, some of the Seven Dwarves. At Disney, the characters you play are based on height. So I never made a princess,” she laughed. “Too short! But I did get to play Mickey Mouse on New Year’s Eve!”

The Antkowiak clan moved back to the family farm in 2001, and after returning here to Oxford, Antkowiak participated in community theatre, but wanted to be with people who took the business very seriously. She performed in “The Sound of Music” with the Wachusett Theater Company at Worcester’s Foothills Theatre and was asked to perform in the Foothills’ Children’s Theatre. She became a staple of their productions ~ also taking on roles in Foothills’ mainstage productions ~ for the next 6 years, all while auditioning for roles on the Boston stage.

However, finding the travel, rehearsal and productions schedules of live theatre in Boston too time-consuming, Antkowiak next decided to try film.

“I started auditioning for parts as a web host – a host on someone’s web site,” she said. “I did commercials through Boston Casting and Between Gigs Casting. And I signed on with Mass Models in Auburn. I got a billboard over 290 for Nichols College through them, and I just did a Stop and Shop in-store magazine that went to thousands of households in the New England area.

“The Nichols College billboard shoot was very quick,” Antkowiak recalled. “When I saw myself, I was so excited. I called my husband right away and days later I pulled over and took a picture of the billboard and then my husband took a pic of me standing under the billboard.”

When it comes to auditioning, Antkowiak acknowledges that the process is different when comparing theatre and TV, film, and print work. But there are general rules she lives by. She suggests always dressing sharp, smiling and presenting a great and positive attitude. “Be personable,” she says, “and remember it’s all a crap shoot. You need to learn to take rejection and keep going.”

Her talent, plus sticking to these rules, have led Antkowiak to land some fun and memorable gigs.
“I have two commericals faves,” she said. “A Woburn Toyota commercial. Meeting the people was amazing. I also did a Filene’s Basement commercial which got silly and fun. They’re short shoots and you meet some great people.” Jennifer is also the relaxed young lady seen on the SoftHeat heating pad package and recently filmed an industrial commercial for Lysol which will be seen on Walmart TV nationwide. Other memorable gigs include a commercial for the gun manufacturer Sig Sauer, as well as a Bernie and Phyl’s ad.

But if you ask Antkowiak about her all-time favorite project, she lights up and answers, “I was cast by director David Padrusch to play a southern lady who hangs herself in a History Channel documentary called “Aftershock: Beyond the Civil War.” I had one of only a few speaking roles. It was an experience I will never forget, my first true foray into the film world. The stunt crew was spectacular, as was working with David. It was filmed primarily in Sutton so my husband and kids got to come watch my ‘”hanging!’”

As you can see from just that partial list of her accomplishments, Antkowiak continues to prove her versatility as that triple threat. But no matter what great success may find this actress/model/singer, Antkowiak will always put her beloved family first.

For more info on Jennifer Antkowiak, go to neactor.ning.com/profile/jenniferantkowiak.