Celebrity Interview: Jill Hennessy

Jill HennessyA year after releasing her debut album, Ghost In My Head, Jill Hennessy is still fighting people’s preconceived ideas of her as a musician. As an actress, Jill Hennessy has been on award winning television shows and honoured with a star on Canada’s Walk Of Fame. In the music industry though, she’s still a relative unknown. It is both a blessing and a curse to be starting fresh in the music industry, but Jill isn’t letting any expectations bring her down.

“I don’t know if [people] would expect anything from me,” Jill Hennessy told Real Style from her home in New York, “A lot of people don’t know me as an actor and that kind of helped when I was recording the album. I was just a singer, songwriter, musician walking into the studio. Most of the musicians I was recording the album with didn’t know me as an actor. They just liked my songs. That meant the world to me. For a lot of people who know me as an actor they say ‘Gee, what could this possibly be?’ People like to put people in boxes and think that’s all they do. It’s a safe way to think… I can’t really deal with people’s preconceptions or expectations; I just do what I do.”

Even though you may recognize her from Law & Order and Crossing Jordan, music has always been her first love and true passion. At a young age, Jill busked for change on the streets of Toronto. Life happened though and a chance role on Law & Order took her focus away from music, but the love never died.

“I’ve always wanted to [make a cd]. It wasn’t really choosing a specific time. It was accruing enough material and starting to write and getting up the courage to write down the stories. It just happened to come out. I think because I hit a point in my life where stuff needed to come out. It was a point where [I did it] to feel better as a form of therapy… I’ve always played other people’s music. The idea of writing my own stuff was pretty daunting. I got to a point where I thought I’m going to write this down because it’s helping me.”

While she never stopped singing and playing guitar, acting was her job. Now, Jill Hennessy has taken the leap and music is the focus in her life. jill hennessy cd

“The main focus is the music, but I got the option to do this HBO show…. It’s a juggling act… I never saw it as a choice. I never say I am going to put this on the backburner. I always knew I loved the music. I was lucky enough to get the acting work and jobs that I was proud of. But I do the music because I love it. I don’t know if I will ever make money doing it.”

Fortunately for her, this leap into the music industry has been a successful one. After recording the album, Jill has played with The Indigo Girls, Sarah McLachlan and Burton Cummings. While some people will always think of her as an actress, the audiences and media (especially in Canada) have opened their hearts and ears to receive Jill’s music sincerely. After a lifetime of singing other people’s songs, this acceptance is more than she hoped for.

“Things have been better than I had even hoped for. The gigs that we’ve done alone in the last year have been shocking… Up in Canada it’s been unbelievable. I can believe how generous the audiences and the Canadian press have been. It’s an honour when somebody actually takes the time to listen to your music and listen to the lyrics. We’ve gotten some beautiful, insightful and profound reviews, which I was blown away by.”

You can see Jill Hennessy on stage in Toronto for two upcoming shows on October 15th as part of the 2010 Walk Of Fame Festival: For free at Yonge and Dundas Square at 12 p.m. or with Burton Cummings at Massey Hall later that night.

[photo via GCD Graphics]

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