The Disney Heroines: Jennifer Cody
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Jennifer Cody (left) with Scarlett Stahl
At the Annie Awards I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Cody when she won the top award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production as Charlotte Le Boeuf in The Princess and the Frog. Not only was I impressed with her extraordinary princess style gown, which suited her character in the film, but also by her personality. She is a petite pixie loaded with personality and talent.
It was a couple of months before our interview could be arranged. We finally met at the world famous Farmer’s Market near CBS Studios in Los Angeles. Time passed quickly and pleasantly during the interview, as Jen talks like a painter working on her canvas, with colorful descriptive word pictures.
Jennifer was born on November 10, in Greece. New York. Her father is of French and Irish background, while her mother is Portuguese. As Jen said, “I look exactly like my mother.” Jen has two older brothers and a younger sister who was adopted from Paraguay when Jen went to Fredonia State University to study acting. None of her family was involved in the arts. She mainly watched movies on TV and took dance classes. Her father worked as a hotel manager while her mother works in real estate. “Whenever the stars came through and stayed at the hotel, I was able to meet them or sit behind the desk to see them sign in,” Jen recalls.
When questioned about her interest in the theatre, Jen explained. “My mom was a big Barbra Streisand fan. So I used to sing along with the albums she would play. I had the Grease album and the Saturday Night Fever album and I used to lip sync to all those things. I don’t think I ever knew that I could do that as a profession until I got a little older. Then I realized that what I had been doing all along, I could actually get paid for! I would say that those Barbra Streisand albums inspired me the most.”
While she was still in school, she auditioned and “the timing just happened to be correct and they were looking for someone to go out on the Gypsy tour. A girl had just dropped out. I was tiny and had the right vocal quality for Dainty June. And so I left immediately the next day on a plane, after I received my BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) from University, and went on a national tour of Gypsy for a year. And then I came back into New York and luck would have it, I was auditioning for something else and the casting director said I need a tiny girl and I got cast and left again on tour in Cats as Rumpleteazer.”
Jen met her husband, Hunter Foster, during Cats, where he appeared in the role of Rum Tum Tugger. He left to appear in the Broadway show of Grease and she left to do the Broadway show of Cats so they both went to New York at the same time. As she said “Luckily we both had a show, that does definitely make it easier. Then I actually joined the Broadway company of Grease and we stayed in it a few years."
Jennifer said that she and her husband had one of their first dates in New Orleans, which was the setting for The Princess and the Frog. “We were on tour with Cats and it was my birthday. He planned the entire evening and a carriage picked us up. We went around the city and then we went to Commander’s Palace for dinner. It was funny because he gave me a promise ring. We had only been dating four months. It was a tiny little blue topaz and he gave it to me at the restaurant. Everyone there thought we were getting engaged and they were happy and applauding so I said don’t tell them, it’s too embarrassing. It was really, really special.”
Their marriage was a fairytale wedding. “We were married in Geneva, N.Y., which is a tiny little town about an hour outside Rochester, N.Y. We picked it because it was a castle and we got married outside under a chuppah, a Jewish chuppah. We’re not Jewish. I just thought it was pretty. It was gorgeous; it had flowers, like a fairytale. My poor parents were like What? We had a non denominational female preacher. It’s so funny. My parents are Catholic and Hunter’s parents are Southern Presbyterian. So there was an issue and we decided to go non denominational. We had our dog be our ring bearer and he had the rings on a pillow on his back. He was a tiny Yorkie named Zack and he wore a bow tie and little spats.”
She continued “We got married during the show in 1997. We were kids and we’ve been together a long time…We are good friends and we have been fortunate that we both work a lot so that the hardships of money or at moving at different levels, we have kind of have avoided that a little bit. We’ve been fortunate. We can stay in New York City together and we’ve done a few shows together so it’s nice.” In regards to children, Jen said “I’m not apposed to adopting less fortunate children. I’ve had a lot of friends who have done that, and it’s been such a positive experience. And my sister is adopted so that probably would be the route I would take. We’ll see.”