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Exclusive Interview with Jennifer Cheon of Syfy’s Van Helsing

You may know Jennifer Cheon as Ivory from Syfy’s original series Van Helsing, but you may recognize her from several other well known TV shows including Supernatural, Arrow, The 100Lucifer, Zoo, Minority Report and many others. Her unique and exotic good looks led to a modeling career, which then led to spots in commercials. At 19, she landed a role in her first feature film, Eve and the Fire Horse.

In 2016, Jennifer won a Leo Award, which celebrates achievement in British Columbia film, for Best Actress for her work in the acclaimed web series, The Drive.

The actress was born in Vancouver, Canada and is of Mexican and Korean heritage. She is skilled in a myriad of the arts including dance, theater, music, and visual arts as well as acting. In her spare time, she enjoy the outdoors, horseback riding, boxing, dance, yoga and swimming. She believes film is her true passion, and sees film and television not only as entertainment but as a tool for people to understand more about themselves as well as each other.

Growing up she didn’t see anyone who looked like her on TV, and as a result, Jennifer is now involved in campaigning for diversity, gender equality and LGBTQ rights. She was bullied as a youngster and it has allowed her to relate to anyone who feels different.

I got the chance to talk with Jennifer about all of this and more! Keep reading to see what she had to say!

You’ve been a familiar face on many TV Shows. Do you have a favorite that you’ve worked on? You seem to like action and genre shows. Is this by choice or coincidence?

Besides Ivory in Van Helsing, I really loved becoming Dakiva in The 100, who is also a badass warrior woman which I love inhabiting. It’s a bit of choice and coincidence. I also enjoy playing women in day to day life situations. I just love acting so much, and I love getting the chance to embrace different parts of myself and the characters, whether they are the warrior in battle or the warrior through day to day.

Tell us a bit about The Drive, for which you won a Leo for Best Actress in a web series. How did that differ from working on a television show?

There really wasn’t much of a difference at all — aside from the budget.

You were bullied in school — how does that impact you and your acting now? Are you tempted to go to a class reunion and say “look at me now”?

Ha! No class reunions for me. I have to say that my experiences with bullying have taught me a lot. You can’t help but feel self-conscious every time you see or hear someone laugh close to you, and because of those bullies I still feel those laughs are because of me. They aren’t, but the feelings those bullies left inside me are still there. I do use a lot of those experiences and feelings in my work.

Do you have any words of advice for kids being bullied now?

I would say let yourself feel that hurt, cry, then let it go. Realize that those mean things that are happening to you aren’t even about you. I know it’s easier said than done, but it really frees you once you realize how it’s normally the bully who has the issue — not you. Take that pain and hurt and turn it into art.

Let’s talk about Van Helsing. You were introduced in season two, but take us back to your audition process. What was that like?

Oh man. I can’t help but feel nervous every time I’m waiting to go into the room. This particular time there were so many people there. We were waiting in a hallway and there were some actors running lines, some listening to music, some chatting about who is “working” on what. Then, finally, casting called my name. I went in, it was Neil Lebute, Jonathan Walker, and our director at the time Kaare Andrews. They were so chill, so kind. I did the read, and then a few days later got the call that changed my life.

From what I read, Ivory was only supposed to be on for one or two episodes originally, but now look where we are. What has it been like to get the chance to continue to explore Ivory for as long as you have?

For real…it’s a dream come true! I absolutely love her! I did not want to let her go. I look forward to exploring more of her, and I hope everyone keeps the support up for Ivory, because we have yet to see what she can really do.

Would you say that Ivory is more similar or different to the person that you, Jennifer, are and why?

I think we have similarities for sure. She has really helped me find my voice. She has helped me step into my skin more.

Can you tell us a bit of what’s in store for Ivory in season three?

You can start to see her form a deeper relationship with Scab. I think the audience will enjoy seeing how that grows and develops.

Outside of acting, you are a very physical person — horseback riding dance, yoga, boxing. Do you find that these physical activities help you find focus as an actress?

Yes I do… especially since I play a lot of warrior women who are very physical. It helps me to sell that part of the role for sure, and personally life is better when I’m sweating [out] all the BS life can throw [at] ya.

We know you recently got married — congratulations and we wish you many years of happiness! How’s married life so far? Does your husband also being in the business make things easier or harder?

Thank you! Married life is dope, I really like it. I do think it helps that we are in the same industry. We understand how it works, and that definitely makes it easier.

We’re called Talk Nerdy — do you have any nerdy hobbies or passions?

I am a nerd. I think everything I do is pretty nerdy. Some typical nerdy stuff is: Obviously I love Syfy, The Force Awakens is on my playlist, and I get super emotional every time it comes on.

You can catch Jennifer in Van Helsing, now in its 3rd season, on Syfy on Fridays at 9 pm. You can also follow the actress on Twitter and Instagram.

Photo Credits:
Photography: Jeffery Fountain
Makeup: Caitlin Krenz with Opus Beauty
Hair: Felicia Rials
Stylist: Lauren Taylor

Written by Arlene Allen

Hello, my name is Arlene Allen, and I love all things nerd: genre tv and movies, books, loud rock and roll music, kittens, conventions, books, graphic novels and superheroes, RPG and tabletop games, and did I say books? Oh, yes. I spent 25 years as a librarian (nerd) mainly working with youth (creating nerds), a number of years as a teacher (more nerd indoctrination). I have my own spawn, leveled up to 22 and my partner in nerdiness. As a nerdy writer, I have found a home at Talk Nerdy With Us.

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