Well-known actress Jena Malone relocates to the island
By Halle Wyatt, Reporter
A newcomer to the island, actress Jena Malone is known around the world for her roles as Johanna Mason in Catching Fire and Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Now on a local scale, she hopes to become well-known for her other creative passions, such as experimental music performances and flower shop photography shows.
Malone first began making music at the age of 21 with a group of friends in New York. Later on, she wrote and produced two albums under the name “Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains.”
Two years later, she met classical pianist Lem Jay Ignacio while looking for a bandmate to collaborate with.
“It’s a unique relationship when you can freestyle with someone because you have to be so vulnerable and raw and really trust each other to kind of play and be free,” Malone said. “I’ve never really met any other musician where I felt like we were so aligned.”
Together, they formed their band called “The Shoe.”
“We’re called “The Shoe” because that’s the instrument I kind of jimmiricked,” Malone said. “I basically play out of [what] used to be a steamer trunk, full of all my gear. I felt like this old woman living in the shoe.”
She’s since traded the steamer trunk for suitcases, but Malone’s performances are still as unconventional as ever.
“Normally we play on street corners, rooftops, girls’ bathrooms, elevators,” Malone said. “We don’t really play traditional venues.”
Malone prefers more uncommon locations because she doesn’t want people coming into the show expecting a traditional performance.
“I really feed off of playing music outside and creating narratives, and it’s different when I’m alone in my studio,” she said “It’s really easy to be meticulous and re-record something eighteen times, but when you’re kind of singing for the birds it really feels magical to… make mistakes and create things that have never existed before.
Grateful for Ignacio’s friendship and passion for the band, Malone finds it easy to explore those narratives and make those mistakes with him.
“I always feel really fortunate that he takes time out of his schedule and come and sit on a dirty concrete stoop and just experiment and perform experimental narratives for the birds,” Malone said.
Now, following their 2014 album, “I’m Okay,” she and Ignacio are working on another album that doesn’t yet have a release date.
“I just went through a really intense heartache … and just decided to not put that into an album. I feel like it’s so easy to use music as a[n] outlet of catharsis,” Malone said. “I’m now in a space where I’m ready to do something a little more feeling and uplifting.”
Malone is also working on a new photography collection, photographing island residents. This comes after a recent show at Herban Bloom, which contained photos from Myanmar.
“[The theme is] reinterpreting the fem archetype,” she said. “It’s not about gender. It’s just about femininity and whatever gender you might find yourself in.”
Due to her busy schedule, Malone expects the series to be a three-year project.
Along with the photo series, Malone expressed interest in collaborating musically with islanders.
“I would love to start a band on the island,” she said. “I’ve been talking to a few musicians, figuring out who would want to be part of a weirdo-experimental band.”
Malone has already performed once on the island — she and Ignacio played in her friend’s living room while writing music for “Jena Malone and her Bloodstains.”
Malone is also interested in working with teenagers on the island and acting as an ally to teens interested in creative subjects.
“I would love to go and work with the high school and work with the drama students,” Malone said. “Even if I’m not involved with that, [I would like] talking with people who want to be actors.”
Malone attributes her interest in working with young people to her close relationship with her sister, who’s 13 years younger than her. Since Malone was 21, they’ve traveled together and collaborated on creative projects such as poetry.
“I … think that mentors are just as important as teachers,” she said. “I would love to be an ally to the arts.”
Unfortunately for Malone, adjusting to life on the island while still working in Hollywood has made it difficult for her to focus solely on her project ideas for the island.
“I just moved here a year ago, so I’m still unpacking and building fences and figuring out where the compost goes,” Malone said.
After taking an almost three-year break from acting to take care of her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Malone is also returning to acting.
“It’s nice to kind of get back into that, and see what Hollywood wants from me,” she said. “I have a different voice. I have a different interest in what stories I want to tell.”
Currently, Malone is flying back and forth between Los Angeles and Seattle to work on various projects. One such project is a David Bowie biopic, in which Malone will play Bowie’s first wife, Angie Bowie. The second project is regarded as confidential.
“I can’t talk about anything until it’s announced on Deadline, which is hilarious,” Malone said.
Whether it be in Hollywood or on Vashon, Malone looks to feed her creativity in any way she can.
“I find Vashon really inspiring,” she said. “It’s a really easy place to be alone but then also be supported by a community.”