Jenette Goldstein grew up in the slums of Beverly Hills.
Her mother was from the south and her father was from the Bronx, she grew up with a good ear for accents and liked pretending to be other people.
Her father rented an apartment just inside the Beverly Hill city limits so that she and her brother could go to school there. It worked out well for her.
a.ii) Deciding to be an actor
She decided to be an actor at a very young age, and Beverly Hills High had an exceptional drama department.
Afterwards going to college in Santa Barbara for a couple of years, left to study in New York on a two-year program studying full times at Circle in the Square.
- Question: Tell us a little bit about your background, and how being in James Cameron's Aliens put you in the spotlight as a symbol for an empowered female role model -- with great roles in Near Dark and Lethal Weapon 2 to follow. This was around the time of the 80s 'buff babes' era of Linda Hamilton and Angela Bassett, was it not?
Jenette Goldstein:Yes. I grew up in the slums of Beverly Hills. My father rented an apartment just inside the city limits so my brother and I could go to school there. It worked out well for me. I decided to be an actor at a very young age, and Beverly Hills High had an exceptional drama department. From there I went to UC Santa Barbara for a couple of years, then to study acting full-time at Circle in the Square in New York, then I married a British veterinarian and moved to London, which allowed me to do a year of post-graduate study at Webber-Douglas. I was lucky to be trained in both American and British methods. I like to keep moving. I was doing a lot of fringe theater around London, beating my Yank head against the iron wall of the British theater world, and I had days free.
I discovered this fascinating subculture of bodybuilding at Hyam's Gym in East London. It saved my sanity, because in bodybuilding, effort equals results. There was a handful of women lifting weights there at the time. The owner's daughter was there, and myself, and a couple of girls who were hanging out there to keep an eye on their boyfriends and started getting really buff. That's how the world changes!
I wore a sleeveless blouse to audition for a bit part in a movie I thought was about immigrants without papers, and it was my buffed arms that got me the chance to try out for Vasquez. What Jim Cameron did with female action in ALIENS that was really groundbreaking is that he treated it as perfectly normal, as though there had already been 20 movies about tough-girl Marines blasting monsters. You know you've really been empowered when it's not worth mentioning anymore. (http://www.aol.com/article/2010/06/22/jenette-goldstein/19522454/)
- Interviewer: How did you approach the character of Vasquez. Did you do a lot of kind of character studying, or just kind of
Jenette Goldstein: You know I didn't, I was living like I said I was living in London, I'd gone to, I'd gone to drama school in New York and I got married and , and moved moved over to England and erm, I'd been there a few years or a couple of years, I can't remember and erm, but you know I grew up in Los Angeles, not in Lo Barrio,
Interviewer: what did you grow up in
Jenette Goldstein: I grew up in Beverly Hills
Interviewer: Oh Wow, I grew up in Whittier not too far from there really
Jenette Goldstein: Oh really yeah yeah
Interviewer: So erm
Interviewer: Beverly Hills and Lo Barrio, absolutely
Jenette Goldstein: Yeah, absolutely, the slums, the slums of Beverly Hills, but that doesn't Interviewer: This is also a testament to your acting because, you er, are not a Latina, right
Jenette Goldstein: No
Interviewer: Yuh, and you've played these such diverse roles and I think everybody knows your roles but they might not always know it's the same person that plays those roles and to me that's the best kind of actor 'cause you're just disappearing inside the characters
Jenette Goldstein: oh thanks
Interviewer: Anyway I cut you off, continue please
Jenette Goldstein: Where was I, well Vasquez, oh yeah, well you know, I, I became an actress because I love becoming different people, so I never wanted to play myself for even if I knew who that was, but I'm still trying to find her that is, erm you know, I'm real, I have a really good ear for accents and my dad's from the Bronx, my mother's from the south and, and and, you know I just, I don't know, I like pretending to be other people so erm, I just, I sort of, I knew that subculture of the gang, not personally, but living in Los Angeles and I knew the accent and I knew the story behind it, and I did research you know on the idea of gang, what the gang offers to, erm, a young boy, or a girl, and the same thing, how there's the parallel of the army,
Jenette Goldstein: the same idea and the protecting in your family and what that means in a positive way, you know, we know what it means in a negative but, so er, yeah, that's the kind of research I did ("I was there too" podcast, 17th March 2015)
b) Heading for England
She then met and married an Englishman who was a British vetenarian, following him to London to do a year of post-graduate study at Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.
Three years later and numerous stage appearances later, in small productions ranging from Shakespeare to fringe and to musicals, she had got her British Equity card and answered an ad for a film role in the local trades.
- Jenette Goldstein: Then I married a British veterinarian and moved to London, which allowed me to do a year of post-graduate study at Webber-Douglas. I was lucky to be trained in both American and British methods. I like to keep moving. I was doing a lot of fringe theater around London, beating my Yank head against the iron wall of the British theater world, and I had days free. (http://www.aol.com/article/2010/06/22/jenette-goldstein/19522454/)
- Jenette Goldstein: I was living in London and doing fringe theatre, and er, just got my
British equity card, and you know, and saw this and, yeah, it really did
change my life and brought, you know, put me in the movies and brought
me back to the United States and started my, you know, my career on
television and film (The Making of Aliens , Preparing for Battle)
c) The Advert in the paper
It read simply "Genuine American actors, British Equity, for feature film ALIENS, 20th Century Fox,"
She had seen ALIEN, but she had no idea this was to be a sequel. It didn't occur to her because it had been several years ago.
She thought it was about people who were aliens as immigrants to the country of England and she wondered why they wanted Americans.
Since she didn't have an agent at the time, she answered the advert on her own,
- Jenette Goldstein:I wore a sleeveless blouse to audition for a bit part in a movie I thought was about immigrants without papers, and it was my buffed arms that got me the chance to try out for Vasquez. What Jim Cameron did with female action in ALIENS that was really groundbreaking is that he treated it as perfectly normal, as though there had already been 20 movies about tough-girl Marines blasting monsters. You know you've really been empowered when it's not worth mentioning anymore. (http://www.aol.com/article/2010/06/22/jenette-goldstein/19522454/)
- Goldstein won the role of Vasquez against all odds. During the time of her audition, the American-born thesp was an unknown 25-year-old actress working in various London stage productions, and her relative inexperience not only led her to show up at the audition in full hair and makeup -- she thought the script was about human "aliens," i.e. immigrants, as opposed to slimy extraterrestrial ones -- but resulted in a protracted battle between Cameron and the studio, who wanted a more seasoned film actor for the role. (http://www.hitfix.com/news/aliens-star-jenette-goldstein-on-how-james-cameron-gave-her-permission-not-to-be-pretty)
- Interviewer: Jenette Goldstein,
I can't tell you how excited I am to have you on because you would
never know this but your character Vasquez and me, we have , a, a shared
Jenette Goldstein: Oh yes
Interviewer: Yes, so when I was in junior high when Aliens came out and we used to play, my friends and I used to play Aliens all the time and I always chose to be Vasquez because it was the most amazing character
Jenette Goldstein: Of course, I was, I was always living every like twelve year old boys dream
Interviewer: You must have been
Jenette Goldstein: Apparently I was
Interviewer: So er, I want to take it kind of from the beginning, we'll talk about Aliens for a bit, we'll talk about some of your other great Cameron roles, your other roles and what you're doing now, but I read that when you went in for the part of Vazquez, you thought the movie was about Aliens as in immigrant Aliens, is that true?
Jenette Goldstein: Yep, that that part is true, I did, I was erm. I was living in England
Jenette Goldstein: And erm, I had my British residency card, and it was called a resident alien instead of having a green card, you were a resident alien, and I was married to an English guy, and, um, there was a whole underground economy of people who marry citizens in order to get their resident alien card and they had asked for, um, only to see American or Canadian actors so I , it was called Aliens and I, it's probably about that phenomenon
("I was there too" podcast, 17th March 2015)