by Betty Dravis

Betty at Barnes & Noble Booksigning

Periodically the Dames post first chapters of their books. Maggie Bishop reminded me that I had not posted first chapters of Dream Reachers II, Six-Pack of Blood and Millennium Babe: The Prophecy. With that in mind, she scheduled me for this Friday and the following two. Since Dream Reachers is not a chapter book, but is a book of celebrity interviews and actress Jenny McShane is the first interview in the book, I’ll start with my interview of her. Since it’s extraordinarily long, I’ll post just enough to whet your appetite for the book.

Jenny’s a remarkable woman, so I hope you enjoy this tidbit (it first ran in Dames of Dialogue before Chase Von and I got together to put some of our best interviews into two Dream Reachers books). Enjoy!

Lovely Katherin “Kat” Kovin Pacino, actress/producer and stepmother of the great Al Pacino, is also featured in DRII and on the cover. (Photo credit: cinematographer Mario Prado)

Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Jenny. Christy Tillery-French, co- founder of this select band of female authors, appointed me as celebrity interviewer of the group. As you know, the Dames usually interview people in the publishing industry, but since I co-authored the first Dream Reachers, they think it will add fascinating variety to interview people from the other arts. You are one of the most popular artists in Dream Reachers--the only one in both books–and were so helpful to me and Chase Von during production of the first book that I just had to interview you first for the second. (laughs)

Jenny, you have done so much in the entertainment industry, I’m sure our readers will enjoy you as much as your current fans do. I know from your section in Dream Reachers about your father’s job choice, but can you tell us a little about that and how you went from there to being such a successful actress?

Jenny McShane: I wanted to be an actress since the age of three when I tortured neighborhood kids by performing on a ledge in my basement with an empty paper-towel holder as my microphone. I asked my parents for a piano when I was in second grade. I had a deep desire to get whatever it was inside out, I think! Most people who know me say I like attention, but I think it is more than that––I like to see people happy. I think music and entertaining lets people momentarily escape whatever stress they may have. When I see people’s faces respond with a happy gaze, it makes me happy. Entertaining helps me to escape, as well, and gives me a deep inner peace.

Betty Dravis: You chose your career for an admirable reason, Jenny, but it looks like it chose you, too. I have to grin at the image of the “little girl you” in that basement. I bet you get a lot of “mileage” from being the “daughter of a pig farmer”…and a lot more laughs, all good-natured and in the right spirit, I’m sure. Nobody can argue with success. I’ll get into some of your movies and your leading men later, but can you tell us about when you first started singing and playing guitar? I understand you formed your own band for a while, but that you recently joined an up-and-coming band with a very unusual name. Do you mind sharing about how you met “Harry the Dog” and where you’re currently performing?

Jenny McShane: I do, oddly enough, get a lot of mileage out of the Pig Farmer’s Daughter line. My mother gets so upset, especially when they included Pig Farmer’s Daughter in an interview The New York Times did on me. “Couldn’t you say hog farmer’s daughter, Jen?” she asked. “It sounds so much nicer.”… I think the funniest thing that ever happened with the pig stories was meeting Smokey Hormel. Smokey was the son of the famous Hormel family, which is where I drove with my family to take our pigs when it was time for them to go to market. Smokey became a guitar player in Bruce Willis’s band. I started playing guitar and singing when I realized I could get out of some more work.

When we were growing up, my parents made a music room for us in the house. Mom and Dad loved to listen to me play the piano at night after chores. I honestly liked playing but knew it would also make them forget about extra things that might need to be done. My father is one of twenty-two children. His brothers and sisters and mother were all very musical and I was in heaven when I went to my grandma’s house and heard them all singing and playing various instruments together. It was so beautiful. My grandmother played the violin and was an expert tap dancer, so she was always the highlight of the show.

It was such a sense of achievement when I learned to play guitar and piano and could sit in with Dad’s family and keep up. I took piano lessons at the convent next to the Catholic school, from Marguerite McPartland, another Irish lass. The piano was great, as you can read music and it helps you learn other instruments easily. I can play accordion and guitar based on the basics of the piano lessons.

I did have my own band, called Little Ruby, for a little bit seven years ago. I put it together to keep myself busy when I wasn’t working in acting. In April of this year I joined a band called Harry the Dog and the Traveling Soul Circus. My boyfriend is from England and has a whole crew of English people in LA who really stick together like a posse. He is friends and a big fan of Harry Bridgen’s band. I accidentally ran into Harry at an English pub called Cat N Fiddle on Sunset. I overheard one of Harry’s friends saying they were looking for a female guitar player because a girl in the band was going on tour with Pink. When I heard Pink, that grabbed my attention! I am a big fan of Pink, so I asked if I could audition to be in the band and Harry agreed. I took Bruno Frasca, the expert guitar player in the band, to Chateau Marmont and proceeded to play the piano and the guitar for the guests that were there that night. The last song I played on the guitar was “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. All the other hotel guests joined in; even the actor Josh Hartnett enjoyed it and was singing along. Needless to say, I was invited to join the band. I am on guitar and back-up vocals for the group. I also helped the band write and record a very cool song titled “American Man.”

Betty Dravis: That’s a fun, interesting story, Jenny. Best of luck with the group! I haven’t had the good fortune to be in the LA area to see you perform, but I’ve seen YouTube videos and photos on various Hollywood websites. You certainly are a good singer, pick a mean guitar and your energy is endless. How do you keep in such fine shape? And please give us some links to your various websites.

Jenny McShane: I do have a lot of natural energy. I think it was growing up with all the manual labor. Now I have to work out at least five times a week just to feel like I am doing something. It makes my spirit positive to run, lift weights, ride a bike, etc. I think if you are an entertainer it is your responsibility to respect your fans and show them you have morals and drive. I love to watch Rocky as many times a year as I can; it inspires me. Drive and being in great shape is something I admire in any performer. Who likes to drive a dirty car? is how I look at it! I love that Clint Eastwood is in top shape to this day. Any of the performers I admire are always in great shape in person!

I have my own website which is http://www.jennymcshane.com But I need to get some updates on there! I also post my current gigs on my FaceBook page.

Betty Dravis: I hear you loud and clear about updating your website, Jenny. That seems like an endless task, especially for someone who does as much as you. I’ve seen five of your movies: Furnace, which is your latest (with the very handsome Michael Pare); Shark Attack, in which you starred with Casper Van Dien; The Watcher, starring Keanu Reeves, where you played the lead female detective; Shark Attack 3, where you co-starred opposite John Barrowman; and Stag. I expected Stag to be an actual stag party, which is not to my taste, so was pleasantly surprised to see that it was about something tragic that happened at the beginning of a stag party, rather than going in-depth with a so-called “sex” movie. It has some nudity, but is more of a thriller… How many movies have you been in, Jenny? Your interview in the first Dream Reachers goes in-depth on this subject, so keep it brief. Then tell us about some of your modeling jobs. I’d love to hear your take on that, as I’m sure our readers will.

Jenny McShane: I have been in about twenty movies, but only on four television shows. I never keep an exact tab, though. The movie Stag has a real message. The film is quite scary as it shows kids and adults that some of our decisions can end up affecting our entire lives. After filming Stag, I met a director in London who told me his eighteen-year-old son had been drunk driving and hit and killed two people and would be serving the rest of his life in prison. The character I played in Stag was difficult to play. The original script had the back-story that was not included in the movie. The mother of the two sisters in the movie was dying of cancer and since they didn’t have insurance, they stripped to get the money quickly to help the family.

Modeling is the way I started in the business. There is some misinformation about modeling. Modeling is a job description and every model isn’t perfect. The majority of modeling I did was commercial as opposed to editorial. Editorial models were stunning, in my eyes. We commercial models were basically girl-next-door types. I did a lot of Budweiser/Anheuser Busch ads and catalog shoots, as well as Target and Dayton Hudson ads when I started. I also did a lot of industrial shoots for various companies, including Fingerhut, 3M, etc. I don’t consider photos that I do now to be modeling, but rather publicity for my likeness. (Continued in Dream Reachers book.)

End of selected portion of Jenny McShane’s interview in Dream Reachers. To learn who her mentors are and who was the best kisser of all the stars she’s kissed (on location, of course)–and much more–you might want to get a copy of Dream Reachers. It’s only in print format; not in ebook yet. With over 300 photos in the book, it’s a challenge for ebook, but we are working on it. Amazon link for Dream Reachers: http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Reachers-Chase-Von/dp/0976678780/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1305784038&sr=1-1