An Interview with Nicole Jeannine Smith of “Animals Out of Paper” Now Playing at Jobsite Theater

TTB: In the Theatre Tampa Bay community, you are one of the most trusted and loved creative professionals among your peers and audiences as an actor, stage manager, theatrical collaborator, and good human being. You received a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of South Florida and an MFA in Acting from the University of West Virginia. You are part of the stage management team central to the success of the annual Tampa Bay Unified Auditions, along with Vivian Rodriguez. You were instrumental in the launching of the popular Tampa Bay Fringe Festival. You have gained critical praise for your performances as an actor.  Most recently, in Jobsite Theater’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Theatre eXceptional’s Into The Night. You are among the most skilled cross-disciplined, and highly learned creative professionals in the area.  It is a fact; that you are a vital Theatre Tampa Bay community member.  What are your hopes for the Theatre Tampa Bay community, its creative professionals, and its companies? Towards a strong and healthy Arts community.

NJS: To create safe spaces for ALL actors. To tell stories that represent ALL people. For theatre creators to continuously educate ourselves and prioritize doing all of the difficult work that our profession demands. This is too much for any one of us to do on our own. We must help each other.

TTB: What do audiences need to know about the story of Jobsite’s production of Rajiv Joseph’s Animals Out Of Paper?

NJS: This story centers around Ilana. She begins the play at one of the lowest points in her life and she is grieving. As the story progresses, we meet the other two characters in the play, Andy and Suresh. Although these two men circle around Ilana, their stories have just as much depth. These characters each work through their own traumas as the play unfolds. They are each funny, quirky, and heartbroken in different ways.

TTB: What do you hope the audience will experience and take away with this production of Animals Out Of Paper?

NJS: I wish for the audience to laugh, cry, get angry, and see some of themselves in these characters. Although the ending of the play may not be tied into a neat little bow, I hope viewers will see how Ilana, Andy, and Suresh helped one another grow, while discovering things about themselves.

TTB: What are your creative goals for the upcoming 2022/23 season?

NJS: Just like these characters in Animals Out of Paper, I’m grieving. Humanity is collectively struggling, but I am grateful for theatre and the opportunity to unite us through storytelling. My goal for the 2022/23 season is to do as much as I can as a member of the Tampa Bay theatre community to lift us up and aid in creating the highest quality of theatre that we can. I’m also aiming to have fun!

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