Power Plays: An Interview with Jayne Atkinson

Power Plays: An Interview with Jayne Atkinson

by Talya Kingston, Associate Artistic Director of WAM Theatre

Jayne Atkinson as Texas Governor Ann Richards in WAM’s production of “ANN.” Photo: Joey Moro

Jayne Atkinson stars as Texas Governor Ann Richards in ANN by Holland Taylor at the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare and Company, October 19-28, 2018.

WAM: You have played a lot of powerful female politicians in your career.  Which ones stand out for you or have been your favorites?

Jayne Atkinson:I loved being Karen Hayes, the Head of the Counter Intelligence Unit in the fast-paced FOX tv show 24, because I worked with really great people and got to do robust and nuanced acting  rather than a 2 dimensional “bitch/boss lady”, which is too often the case.  I also loved being Secretary of State Catherine Durant in House of Cards. Initially I thought I was going to stay on the periphery of the story and was so happy for it to become more substantial.  I was thrilled when she was in the running to be Vice President to Frank Underwood in Season Five.   It was very important to me that Catherine be very strong and showed that I was a worthy opponent.

Jayne Atkinson as Karen Hayes in a “24” Season 6 promotional photo.

WAM: Great roles!  What lessons have you learned from them?

Jayne: I learned that it’s best to use both your heart and head in decision making.

WAM: Why are these roles are important?

Jayne: It’s important to see a woman in a powerful role making good as well as not so good choices. I look for multi-dimensional roles that have a journey of self discovery and emerge stronger and more alive.  It’s important to me that young people come and see ANN. Many of them will never have heard of Ann Richards before, so it’s a chance for them to learn about her work as well as see inside the life of a woman who was a successful and strong political leader.

WAM: What role (stage or screen) would you like to play in the future, or do you think should be written for you?

Jayne: I’d love to do something new and fresh that combined all the wonderful qualities of being a woman!  Kinda like ANN!

Jayne Atkinson (right) with her co-star Robyn Wright in “House of Cards.”