PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY KATINA GOULAKOS
From “American Idol”, to “GLOW”, Jackie Tohn has both done it all and seen it all. Her quirky character, in combination with her raw talent are just two of the things that make her so great.
Imagista: Where are you from originally?
Jackie: I am from Oceanside, New York.
Imagista: You remind me so much of Gilda Radner, has anyone ever told you that before?
Jackie: Yes! It is crazy how millennials have no idea who she is. I did a movie called “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” where I got to play her. It was about the inception and journey of the National Lampoon. It was started by two guys (Doug Kenney & Henry Beard). They hired unknown talent like Gilda, Bill Murray & John Belushi. Doug /The National Lampoon got offered a Saturday night variety show which he turned down so he could make movies. Soon after, Lorne Michaels utilized those same comics and went on to create “Saturday Night Live.”
Imagista: Wow that is really interesting. Who would you site as legendary artists who have had the most impact on you and your career.
Jackie: I would say that my number one is always Bette Midler. As a kid, I saw her being really out there, and be really funny, and be a great singer, and then also be a great actor. She really covers all the bases. I also love Joan Rivers and, of course, Gilda Radner. I love Howard Stern too. He is one of my idols, but I don’t think he is someone whose career I ever wanted to copy. I think he is just someone that I admire.
Imagista: You have such a great and unique personality but does everyone understand your sense of humor when they meet you?
Jackie: It is funny you say that. I compliment people with a sort of angry face as a joke and people just stare at me trying to figure out if I am serious or not.
Imagista: Can you tell me a little bit about your career and how you manage to balance it all and go after work that you are interested in?
Jackie: When I was younger, I wanted to be a singer and a comic. I did a few episodes of “The Nanny.” I wanted to have my own TV show and I wanted to be on Broadway. Acting and standup have been more of my focus these days. My passion for writing and playing music is still very much alive and I’m excited to announce that I will be releasing my ep “Powerfox” soon.
Imagista: Currently, you are on this hit show, “GLOW”, can you tell me a little bit about what this has been like?
Jackie: “GLOW” has been amazing for so many reasons. I think the major one for me is that I have been told my entire life, in various ways, that I am either “too much” or “too loud” or “too something” and on “GLOW,” everything about me that has been “too much” for other people in the past is what makes me work on the show.
“GLOW” has lifted my personal limitations of what I thought was possible for myself. I was always a singer, actress, and comedy lady. On the first day wrestling training for season one of “GLOW,” I showed up and said “ladies I just want you to know that no matter how bad you all are today, I am going to be worse.” Everybody laughed, but in reality that was my own personal insecurity. I was self-deprecating so that I would not be embarrassed by my athleticism. Then it turns out, I am very athletic. “Life-wise,” it was a huge learning experience. The show takes our strengths and they highlight them, making us all look better.
Imagista: Are you and your fellow cast members aware of how impactful this show is?
Jackie: I think we are aware. We get emails from people, for example, saying that their 7-year-old daughter wants to be a wrestler. It is exciting to hear from people about how empowering this show is. Even as an actor I am aware of how important this show is and I am so proud to be part of it.