She's Only Just Begun
Another World's Jennifer Lien takes a stab at stardomm
Article by Jonathan Reiner
I was born old," sighs 18-year-old Jennifer Lien, who in June wrapped up a busy year of combining her role as Hannah Moore on Another World and finishing high school. "My childhood was wild because I was very uncomfortable living where I lived (the South Side of Chicago). It was very industrial - if you didn't fit in you got your ass kicked. I was just my own person, and I adopted this really tough skin because I had to if I wanted to survive. A lot of my friends were into drugs, and I saw a lot of them die."
"Every little experience counts," she says philosophically. "And there's so much out there to experience. I embrace every little change I can make. I know that the good days are coming, so I don't let the bad ones get to me."
It's a rainy Friday afternoon, and Lien's mood is a changeable as the weather: She is happy one minute, sullen the next. But she's always presents the picture of a very determined and focused young woman who isn't afraid to say what she feels, especially when the subject is acting. "I always knew I wanted to be an actress," she admits. "I know everyone says that, but I had a clear picture of what I wanted to do and this driving ambition that would not let me stop."
"There is a whole different reality when you're onstage," Lien explains. "I think it's an actor's job to experience life. I count myself as one of the lucky ones, because acting is not only what I have to do and what I feel with every cell in my body that I should do, it's what I'm doing now!"
Luck was on her side when Lien auditioned for AW. She didn't get the first part she tired out for, but the casting directors liked what they saw and invited her to audition for Hannah. "I went on this general audition for Vicky/Marley (now played by Jensen Buchanan) and they said, 'You're too young to do the part, but we'd like you to meet some people from the show.' So I went to New York, and they liked me."
For Lien, getting the role was the easy part; getting used to the studio was more difficult. "I had no clue about what I was doing," she admits. "The directors were like. 'Jenn, you've go to position yourself - be aware here. There are cameras watching you!' It's strange, because I've never been good around cameras." Eventually Lien got the hang of it, and with time managed to add some zip to the character.
Although she is generally forthright, Lien is reluctant to talk about her family or her childhood. "I don't know why, but I was very moody when I was a child," she says. "I was always sort of offbeat. When you're in high school people have something to say about everybody, and I hated that. I couldn't stand the reality I was living and wanted to get out. I got to the point where I was losing control of myself, and it was at a very young age. And it was either stop now or totally destroy yourself. I stopped."
"You have to know yourself before you can delve into other experiences," Lien continues. "There are a lot of people running around out there who think the only thing to life is being hip - I hate that. If you don't know yourself and you dive into something else, something that you're not ready for, when you come out of it you're not going to know who you are, and you'll see that you have just missed out on years of your life."
Lien quickly points out that there are few similarities between her and Hannah. "Hannah is the little girl I would have been if I'd had the chance," she says. "She allows herself to be a child. I admire that she's very blatant. She's young and she doesn't know much, but she's a character I've created. She's fun."
"Fun" isn't a word Lien uses often. "I just don't trust people very much, so when I talk to them I censor what I say," she explains. "I'd like to let the words flow, but I'm very hurtful sometimes, and I don't like being hurtful. I like to speak my mind. I didn't used to, until I found I didn't get anything out of life. I guess the more I open up, the more I get back."
Lien looks out at the street, and a small smile lights up her face. She seems like a woman who knows what she wants, and it's impossible not to believe her when she confidently states, "This is only the beginning for me."
Text from Soap Opera Weekly - Vol. 3, #33 - August 18, 1992 - Page 33
Article used without permission.