- 1 Early Years, Family, Education
- 2 Career Beginnings
- 3 Career – Writer/Director
- 4 TEDx Talk – Unveiling Inspirations
- 5 Upcoming Projects
- 6 Personal Life
- 7 Interesting Facts about Jenna Kanell
- 8 Appearance
- 9 Net Worth
Jenna Kanell, an American actress, stunt artist, writer, and director, made her mark on the Hollywood scene by taking on roles with memorable portrayals in slasher horror movies in the late 2010s, including “Terrifier” and “The Bye Bye Man.” Since then, she’s challenged herself by exploring different facets of the entertainment industry, while waiting for that one huge role; she even found herself venturing into work behind the camera. With a career spanning more than a decade, Kanell has showcased her talent across a wide array of movie and TV genres, establishing herself as one of Hollywood’s actresses with a diverse portfolio.
Early Years, Family, Education
Jenna Kanell was born on 12 November 1991, in Brookline, Massachusetts. While her professional journey in the entertainment industry is well-documented, limited information is available about her childhood and family life. Except for sharing that she grew up in a Jewish household, could write and speak Hebrew since 12 years old, and that her younger brother named Vance, who is both autistic and epileptic, and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the actress has chosen to keep these aspects of her personal history private, and as such, specific details about her early years, education, and family background remain undisclosed.
Just like many budding actors of her time, Jenna Kanell started her acting career by going to several auditions and also participated in short films before she landed a role in a mainstream project. She appeared in numerous TV series and movies with minor roles honing not only her acting skills but also her stunt-making abilities.
How did she venture into acting (2010)
The acting bug first sank its teeth into Jenna during her high school days, when she took the stage in school plays and eventually immersed herself in the world of theater. However, as she honed her craft through various plays, Jenna discovered her knack for intimate, close-up performances, choosing subtle nuances over theatrical expressions aimed at the back rows. It was during this period that she stepped into the role of a wizard in the whimsical short film “The Wizard of Agni,” a comedy crafted by the creative mind of writer-director Ken Feinberg, hitting screens in 2010.
Diving into Mainstream Horror (2016)
Jenna was poised to turn her Hollywood dreams into reality when she embodied the character of Tara Heyes in the spine-chilling horror flick “Terrifier.” It was about a crazy psychotic killer clown who targeted young women on Halloween night. This movie had an unconventional journey to the big screen, debuting in 2016 at the 7th Telluride Horror Show Festival. It later secured a spot in selected theaters in 2017, thanks to Dead Central Presents recognizing its potential. The USA release, albeit in limited theaters in 2018, turned out to be a triumph. “Terrifier” received acclaim both critically and commercially, raking in over $400,000 at the box office against a modest $35,000 budget.
Damien Leone’s horror movie didn’t just amass a cult following; it reached new heights in horror circles when its sequel, “Terrifier 2,” hit screens in 2022. This sequel emerged as one of the year’s success stories, pulling in an impressive $10 million with a budget of $250,000. Although Jenna had limited screen exposure for her cameo in the second installment, her portrayal in the first movie was reintroduced to fans in July 2023 when it enjoyed another theatrical release, captivating audiences across 700 cinema houses.
Received good reviews (2017)
In 2017, Jenna took on a supporting role in the horror film “The Bye Bye Man,” portraying the character Kim Hansen. While critics had reservations about the movie’s narrative and production quality, Jenna emerged as the silver lining, receiving positive reviews for her performance. One critic went so far as to declare that she stole the show, injecting vibrancy into every scene she graced, even if it was for a brief period. Drawing comparisons to the iconic performance of Canadian actress Neve Campbell in the 1996 blockbuster horror film “The Craft,” Jenna Kanell’s portrayal left an impressive mark, earning her praise amidst the negative reception of the overall film.
Diverging Paths: “The Front Runner” (2018)
After immersing herself in the realm of horror movies, Jenna Kanell, mindful of potential typecasting, decided to pivot her career trajectory. She took a bold step by joining the cast of “The Front Runner,” a film spearheaded by Hugh Jackman. This cinematic venture was an adaptation of Matt Bai’s novel, “All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid.” The narrative unfolded the compelling saga of Senator Gary Hart, tracing his meteoric rise and subsequent fall during the 1988 US presidential campaign.
Opting for diversity, Jenna’s decision seemed promising on paper. “The Front Runner” premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, graced the screens of the Toronto International Film Festival, and earned a place among the films showcased during the prestigious Cannes Film Festival’s 2018 award season. However, despite these global releases, the film encountered a mixed reception from critics, which, unfortunately, translated into underwhelming box-office results in the United States. With a budget of $25 million, the film struggled to gross just over $3 million.
While the commercial outcome might not have matched expectations, Jenna’s choice to explore a different genre and work alongside established names showcased her willingness to challenge herself in the dynamic landscape of filmmaking. The experience with the political thriller marked a pivotal moment in her career, demonstrating her versatility and eagerness to embrace diverse storytelling avenues.
Diverse TV appearances (2018–2022)
Jenna Kanell embarked on an enlightening journey through the television industry, showcasing her versatility in a range of series spanning different themes and genres. Undeterred by the brevity or minor nature of roles, Jenna enthusiastically embraced every acting and stunt-making opportunity that came her way. This ongoing exploration not only bolstered her confidence but also provided valuable learning experiences collaborating with diverse writers and directors.
One intriguing highlight occurred when Jenna made a guest appearance in 2021 on the popular TV series “WandaVision,” assuming the role of a Medical Technician. Fans initially puzzled by her familiar face were pleasantly surprised to connect the dots, realizing she was the memorable figure from “Terrifier.” This unexpected recognition added an extra layer of delight for viewers.
In the subsequent year, Jenna made a notable episode appearance in the anthology series “The First Lady,” broadcast on the Showtime cable channel. While not occupying a central protagonist role, her involvement in one of the episodes made it a worthwhile choice, particularly as it delved into the lives of some of the most enigmatic First Ladies in USA history. The series boasted an impressive ensemble cast, including renowned stars such as Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gillian Anderson, and Kiefer Sutherland.
While receiving mixed reviews and not achieving remarkable ratings, the project provided Jenna with invaluable exposure as a filmmaker, extending beyond her on-camera presence as she was able to observe how huge production companies operate.
A Return to Horror with a Twist with “Renfeld” (2023)
In 2023, Jenna Kanell once again plunged into the realm of horror films, this time assuming the character of Carol, a supporting member of an organization in the movie “Renfeld.” Unlike her previous ventures, this film featured a unique blend of horror and comedy, drawing inspiration from the character R.M. Renfeld, crafted by Bram Stoker in his iconic novel, “Dracula.” The ensemble cast included heavyweights such as Nicolas Cage, Nicolas Hoult, Ben Schwartz, and Awkwafina. Her role in the movie marked a departure from conventional horror, offering audiences a refreshing twist with comedic elements.
“Faceless After Dark” (2023)
Jenna Kanell assumed the lead role in the film “Faceless After Dark.” Beyond her on-screen presence, Jenna co-authored the gripping narrative, contributing to the story of Bowie, an actress who achieved fame through a horror film centered on a menacing killer clown. In a compelling twist of reality and fiction, the storyline unraveled as Bowie, amidst the struggles of capitalizing on her movie’s success, found herself held captive by a delusional fan posing as a killer. The film became a battleground between reel and real, exploring the collision of two worlds within the minds of the psychotic fan and the protagonist.
Under the direction of Raymond Wood, “Faceless After Dark” made its debut at select horror film festivals before reaching limited theaters in the USA. Jenna’s involvement extended beyond acting and writing; she also served as a producer for the film. In a candid admission, Jenna revealed that the movie held a semi-biographical essence, drawing parallels between the main plot and certain facets of her own life. The movie not only showcased her prowess in the horror genre but also offered audiences a glimpse into the intricate dance between fiction and reality in the tumultuous world of stardom.
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Career – Writer/Director
Jenna’s foray into writing and directing took a deeply personal turn when she crafted a short film centered on disabilities, drawing inspiration from her younger brother, Vance, who lives with a disability. In a heartfelt collaboration, she invited Vance to participate in the film, a choice he readily embraced. As Jenna delved into penning the story, little did she anticipate that she would eventually step into the director’s chair. Despite searching for the right director to align with the project’s vision and ensure Vance’s utmost comfort during filming, Jenna found herself compelled to take on the directorial role.
The result of this journey, entitled “Bumblebees,” saw its release in 2015, earning not only widespread acclaim from audiences but also garnering positive reviews from movie critics. The film transcended borders, gracing over 40 film festivals worldwide and securing several awards from prestigious bodies. What began as a personal endeavor evolved into something far-reaching, propelling Jenna to share her experience with diverse audiences with speaking engagements in notable institutions such as Harvard Medical School and the CDC. Reflecting on the unexpected success, Jenna expressed gratitude, acknowledging that the film served as a powerful catalyst for dialogue and awareness. “Bumblebees” became more than just a cinematic venture; it became a catalyst for change, shedding light on the pressing need for disability inclusion in the film industry.
The impact of creating “Bumblebees” ignited a creative fire within Jenna. It fueled her determination to craft more stories and lead films, providing her with the artistic freedom to convey narratives in the way she deemed most impactful. The experience not only transformed Jenna’s filmmaking aspirations but also positioned her as a trailblazer advocating for inclusivity and authentic storytelling in the cinematic landscape.
Since then, Jenna has immersed herself in a diverse array of short films, wearing the hats of a writer, director, and producer. Among her notable creations are the dark comedy “Max & the Monster” and the gripping sci-fi thriller “Abducted.” The former earned recognition as an official entry at the Austin Film Festival in 2018 while the latter secured a spot at the esteemed Tribeca Film Festival in 2021.
In a more recent accomplishment, October 2023 witnessed the completion of Jenna and her brother Vance’s latest venture, a disability-themed film entitled “Spray Bottle.” This poignant creation not only resonated with audiences but also earned them a prestigious grant from Vanishing Angle, a production company dedicated to supporting independent filmmakers in bringing their artistic visions to life.
TEDx Talk – Unveiling Inspirations
Jenna Kanell showcased a different facet of her persona when she received an invitation to be a speaker at a “TEDx Talk” event. Emerging from the success of the renowned parent program, “TED Talk,” this version provided a platform for individuals with compelling ideas worth sharing. Diverging from the expansive discussions with field experts, this educational initiative confined each speaker to a succinct 15-minute presentation, offering a stage for passionate industry figures and dedicated community leaders.
The invitation stemmed from someone captivated by Jenna’s creation of the short disability-themed movie, “Bumblebees.” Impressed by her approach, she was contacted to delve deeper into the learnings and inspirations derived from her work on the project. Jenna seized the opportunity to share her experiences growing up with her disabled younger brother. However, this endeavor was no casual affair; it demanded a meticulous process to uphold the quality and reputation “TED Talk” had amassed over the years. Engaging in extensive writing and rewriting, coupled with rigorous speech coaching, Jenna navigated the nerve-wracking preparation with grace, ultimately delivering an impressive and impactful speech.
As we look back on our 10 years of impact, we want to spotlight Jenna Kanell, a filmmaker who participated and won with her 2015 EDFC film BUMBLEBEES.
She says, “The Disability Film Challenge pushed me to write and direct for the first time, after years working as an actor and… pic.twitter.com/uQysgKorlS
— Easterseals Disability Film Challenge (@DisabilityChall) November 27, 2023
As the 32-year-old actress, Jenna, eagerly embraced the opportunity to embody the character Nicole in the fourth installment of the iconic movie franchise, “Bad Boys,” anticipation bubbled within her. However, the project faced setbacks following the controversial incident involving its main lead during the 2023 Academy Awards. The development was further impeded by the studio executives’ green light coinciding with the SAG-AFTRA strike in the entertainment industry. Despite these hurdles, the fourth installment remained one of the most highly-anticipated movies in Hollywood, with the reprisal of iconic roles by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence adding to its allure.
Jenna has been an openly queer presence in Hollywood, describing herself as a non-conforming female gender. She embraces the pronouns she/her and they/them, reflecting her commitment to personal expression. Despite her openness about her sexual orientation and gender identity, Jenna maintains a private stance on her personal life, including her dating history. According to reports, she is currently single.
Interesting Facts about Jenna Kanell
While Jenna adeptly maintains a separation between her private and public personas, her social media platforms offer fans a limited yet intriguing glimpse into her life beyond the Hollywood limelight. Here are some noteworthy facts about the versatile actress/writer/director:
Advocate for Animal Welfare
Jenna proudly shares her life with a beloved cat, a furry companion so cherished that it shares her bed every night. Going beyond the usual pet-owner bond, Jenna took the time to teach her feline friend some tricks, considering these moments as highlights in her life.
Commitment to a Vegan Lifestyle
She has embraced a healthy lifestyle by adopting a strictly vegan diet. On Jenna’s Instagram Story, she generously shares glimpses of her favorite vegan dishes. In a notable post from 2018, Jenna posted a photo of herself feeding a chicken with the caption, ‘Life hack: instead of eating chickens, share your grapes with them. They apparently ball hard for grapes.’ When fans inquired about her dietary choice, Jenna confirmed her commitment to a vegan lifestyle.
Professionally Trained in Krav Maga
Beyond her physical fitness for stunt work in TV and movies, Jenna boasts professional training in Krav Maga. This martial arts self-defense system, originally developed by the Israeli Defense Forces, showcases Jenna’s dedication to diverse skills and her commitment to staying physically prepared for her roles in the industry.
Social media presence
Jenna maintains an active presence in the realm of social media, adopting “squidthusiast” as her official handle. While she may not boast an astronomical following, she consistently engages with fans, providing updates on her Hollywood ventures. On her verified Instagram account, she has garnered a following of over 30,000. Although Jenna also utilizes platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, she hasn’t pursued official verification given the more modest following on these platforms.
Jenna stands at a height of 5ft 4ins (163cms) and maintains a well-balanced weight of approximately 117lbs (53kgs). Her distinct appearance is characterized by brown hair, often cropped in an Army-style cut, framing her big brown eyes.
As of December 2023, Jenna Kanell’s estimated net worth ranges between $1 million and $5 million. Her wealth accumulation stems from a multifaceted career encompassing acting, writing, directing, producing, and occasional stunt work in between acting engagements.