The summer of 2018 was a bit life changing for me. I mainly chilled out and watched a lot of Parts Unknown, but I also accidentally managed to get myself in a movie with Hollywood and Kenyon darling, Allison Janney.
My mother and I had planned a little “mommy and me” trip, as she would call it, to visit New Orleans over the summer because our dear family friends, who have given themselves the monikers Bert and Bertie, were directing their first big feature film. It was quite exciting for us as they are a kickass, female directing duo, and my mother let them squat with us for a while when they first moved to LA to start directing. They’ve been big sisters and role models to me and we got to watch ‘em in action, directing the likes of Viola Davis, Jim Gaffigan, and Kenyon’s own A.J.
So, it was already a pretty big weekend of firsts: first time in New Orleans, first time on a movie set, and soon enough it would be my big debut in a movie! Desperate for free labor and wanting me to see myself on the silver screen, Bert and Bertie asked if I wanted to be an extra. Immediately, I was whisked off to the costume trailer and given a fabulous dress to fit the 70’s period piece, all while constantly asking myself, “What did I do to deserve this?”
Then came the big moment, possibly my time to shine. As I was led to the makeup trailer, I began to notice that I hadn’t seen Allison on set yet and I wondered, using my Kenyon-honed critical thinking skills, if she could possibly be sitting in that makeup trailer. I said a little prayer, hoping that she would be the very thing waiting on the other side of this mysterious threshold. And there she was. Sitting in a chair, getting her crazy wig meticulously curled and coiffed. Stretched out was the longest index finger I have ever seen, scrolling up and down her phone. Slowly, she turned her head towards me and said, cooly and calmly, “I’m Allison.” I panicked and blurted out, “Hi! I’m Lillian!!! I actually go to Kenyon!!!” We actually went on to discuss Kenyon life. She asked me where I have lived on campus and how the theater department was holding up. I managed to tell her the only thing I knew relevant to theater and her life. “Actually, *haha* they built a new black box last year, and um, a bunch of students started calling it the Allison Janney Black Box, since you’re, like, obviously one of our favorite alumni.” Then, I kid you not, Allison Janney put her hand over her heart while looking truly touched and responded, “Wow. I must send you guys a plaque or something! Let me get your information.” She handed me her phone, the very one that engages with those long fingers each day, and instructed me to add my email to her contacts. I did as I was told, typing in my name and Kenyon email address with some of the shakiest hands of all time.
Now, Allison Janney and I have had no contact since this encounter, no email or nothin’. Maybe one day you will recognize my blurry form behind Viola Davis and Allison Janney in a 2-minute scene. Probably not. Maybe this wild story gives you hope about the extensive nature of the Kenyon alumni network the CDO promises. Again, doubtful. But at least we can all walk around this campus knowing one lowly Kenyon student bravely attempted to get us a “plaque or something” from Kenyon‘s Pride and Joy.