The Thursday Q&A with Jennilee Murray

Jennilee Murray artist actress Ottawa

Jennilee Murray (Photo: Chris Mikula)


Peer into Jennilee Murray’s portfolio and you see an amazing variety of art forms — from visual arts to performing arts. Her whole life has been self-proclaimed “artsy fartsy.” Growing up on a farm in Kelowna, B.C., she was always into painting but film happened accidentally. She met Lee Demarbre, who programs films for the Mayfair Theatre. Demarbre featured her in his modern horror/gore film, Smash Cut.

“Once I was cast in that, I got a bunch of random jobs, like a Harvey’s commercial,” she said.  She has since been featured in many roles in horror, comedy and action genres.

Murray is definitely the girl-about-town in the arts and music scene, working nights at Zaphod Beeblebrox and the Mercury Lounge. In the near future, she is working on art shows and an independent film project, all while keeping her charming dog, Charles Bronson, out of trouble. She took time out to speak with Style intern Deanna Spagnuolo.

Ottawa Citizen Style: Who are your style icons?

Jennilee Murray: Oh man, Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn. They kind of have tomboy-ish styles but still strong, feminine women.

OCS: What’s on your bedside table?

JM: Haha! Should I be honest? There’s hand lotion, a hair clip, and two books. One is Patti Smith’s These Kids, and there’s a really messed up erotica book. It’s weird, my friend lent it to me and it’s really messed up, but so good!

OCS: Best home accessory?

JM: I’m keen on the horns I have. They’re Kudu horns from Africa. So badass. We put Christmas lights on them at Christmas.

OCS: Best recent fashion find?

JM: I have a really great little fitted jacket. It looks like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts with heavy embroidery and padded shoulders.

OCS: Who would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?

JM: I would say Tom Robbins. He’s a really fun author. I think he’d be really funny because his stuff is so obscure and strange.

OCS: You can see a debut of any piece of music in history. What would it be?

JM: Probably — it’s not very deep, but — Tusk by Fleetwood Mac.

OCS: What’s your earliest memory?

JM: Sitting behind my parents’ house — I grew up on a farm — in short shorts and a little top with a silky chicken in my arms. It was my little pet when I was growing up.

OCS: Your biggest fashion faux-pas, when, where and how?

JM: All of high school. It wasn’t anything bad, just really boring and unadventurous.

OCS: Proudest moment?

JM: Graduating with honours from university. It’s hard not to sound cheesy with that question!

OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?

JM: I just bought a really cool antique trunk and I’d say right now it’s probably my favourite.

OCS: Qualities you admire most in a person?

JM: Honesty, humour, intelligence and patience.

OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?

JM: Hopefully nice things. I would hope to be remembered as a kind, hard-working, talented person.

OCS: Which director would you most like to act for?

JM: Oh my god, probably…Can I pick three? (She runs to wall shelf crammed with DVDs.) Stanley Kubrick, Roger Corman and Tim Burton.

OCS: Describe the perfect day off (it can be anywhere in the world).

JM: I would sleep in pretty late (like I usually do. Ha!). Have an amazing lunch. Sit in the sun and read. Go see a film and have drinks with friends. Nothing too glamorous.

OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?

JM: Robert Rauschenberg. He’s an amazing, huge expressionist. And Andreas Vesalius. He did a bunch of human anatomy drawings in the 1700s and 1800s.

OCS: Favourite local artist?

JM: Oh, this is tough because a lot of my friends are artists. There’s a lot of visual art talent in Ottawa and I can’t pick just one. It’s so cheesy but it’s true. But if you twisted my arm and said I had to give an answer: Graham Robinson.

OCS: Best book you’ve read in the past year?

JM: (She runs to her bookshelf.) Oh, what was it? I just finished it! It’s called My Friend Dahmer (by Derf Backderf). It’s a graphic novel about before this guy was a serial killer. It seems really messed up but it’s so great and it’s a really sympathetic view on his life.

OCS: Favourite food?

JM: Cheese. One word. That’s it.

OCS: Most often-played song on your iPod or MP3 player?

JM: It’s a tie between Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac and Cracklin’ Rosie by Neil Diamond. Number three would be Robot Rock by Daft Punk.

OCS: Wine, beer or both?

JM: Both.

OCS: Mac or PC? Mac.

JM: There’s Mac everywhere in my house.

OCS: Fine dining or plain old diners?

JM: I kinda like both and I like it when there’s a cross over. I like when fine dining riffs it with comfort food.

OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?

JM: Oz Kafé. There are other places but I always go back to that and their drinks are good too. I love Oz.

OCS: Person, place or thing that makes you proudest/happiest you live in Ottawa?

JM: National Gallery of Art

OCS: Fave blog or website?

JM: I usually go on Neatorama every day. It has the perfect combination of science stories, personal interest stories, and cute animal pictures.

OCS: Twitter, Facebook or both?

JM: Both.

OCS: What’s your guilty pleasure?

JM: Vintage shopping.

OCS: Favourite place to spend time?

JM: At home. I’m a bit of a hermit so it’s kind of nice.


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