Jordan Nevels Looks Toward a Future on the Big Screen

Jordan Nevels has been a Jayhawk for life, growing up in Overland Park, KS, less than an hour from campus. Choosing Theatre Performance and Film/Media studies at KU, she has been exposed to a vast array of experiences that have opened her eyes to what could be to come in a future in theatre. She takes an approach that’s different than many others, aspiring to contribute to the evolution of the art of acting. Read below to learn more about Nevels’ time at KU, how her major has shaped who she is today, and what the future is shaping up to be for her.

Why did you decide to come to KU?

I chose to study Theatre Performance and Film/Media Studies at The University of Kansas because I recognized that these courses would not only help me improve my craft, but also ignite and nurture my true love and passion for acting and creating. The knowledge and experiences gained in these programs have shaped me into a dedicated artist, ready to make meaningful contributions to the world of theatre and film.

During my last semester of high school, I took an acting class and fell deeply in love with the art of storytelling. However, it was only when I enrolled in the Theatre Performance and Film/Media Studies courses at KU that I truly understood the immeasurable possibilities and depth of this art form. The Theatre Performance program here has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of acting techniques, character development, and empathy. I have been exposed to a diverse range of theatrical genres, from classical Shakespeare to contemporary, experimental plays. Through the guidance of immensely talented and prestigious professors, I learned to analyze scripts, delve into the psyche of characters, and hone my skills in vocal and physical expression. The program also presented numerous opportunities to showcase my talent through main stage productions, student-directed plays, and collaborative projects.

Film & Media Studies has unlocked a whole new world of storytelling possibilities for me. I was fascinated by the art of visual storytelling, the technical aspects of filmmaking, and the acting skills that could pull you into a new world. Through different film courses, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the craft and the power of cinema as a medium for expression. Throughout my time studying Theatre Performance and Film & Media Studies at KU, I’ve felt a deep sense of fulfillment and joy whenever I was on stage or in front of the camera. I realized that acting and creating were not just hobbies for me – they are my true passion. The university provided me with a nurturing environment, surrounded by like-minded individuals who shared the same artistic drive and ambition.

Why did you choose your major? And how do they complement each other? Was there a moment when you decided this is what you wanted to study? What was that journey like?

I chose to study Theatre Performance because Theatre has the power to connect people, evoke emotions, and provide a sense of belonging. By studying Theatre Performance, I have developed the skills and techniques to communicate stories, engage audiences, and create impactful performances. Theatre inherently strives to entertain and captivate audiences. It presents an opportunity to transport people to different worlds, evoke laughter, tears, and a wide range of emotions.

Through storytelling, you can convey powerful messages, create empathy, and help people relate to experiences they might otherwise be unfamiliar with. This ability to connect with others and make them feel less alone is something I always strive for through my performances. Deciding to study Theatre Performance is often a personal journey, influenced by experiences, passions, and a desire to make a difference. Watching Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen Jones” solidified my desire to pursue acting. It’s a scene where she flawlessly portrayed the character’s emotions, captivating the audience with her raw talent. Dandridge effortlessly portrayed Carmen’s sensuality, vulnerability, and inner torment. Her captivating presence drew me into the world of the character. I was mesmerized by her ability to convey such depth and complexity through her performance. Dandridge’s portrayal of Carmen made me realize the transformative power of acting. It opened my eyes to the idea that through this art form, I could immerse myself in different characters, embrace their experiences, and communicate their stories to an audience. It sparked a fire within me, igniting a deep passion for acting. Her performance also exemplified the significance of representation in the arts. As a trailblazing African-American actress, she shattered stereotypes, challenged social norms, and paved the way for aspiring actors like myself.

What is the most exciting part of your major and/or minor? What do you think is most valuable about your experiences in these programs?

As a Theatre Performance major and Film & Media minor, the most exciting part for me is the opportunity to apply what I have learned in class to actual work in school productions and short films. The hands-on experience gained through school productions and short films is invaluable and helps me better understand the industry. I’ve developed essential skills, such as acting, scriptwriting, and technical aspects of theatre and film production. This practical experience not only enhances my understanding of the craft, but also prepares me for a professional career in the industry.

Networking is another valuable aspect of these programs. Collaborating with fellow students, professors, and industry professionals during workshops, visiting artist series, productions, and film projects has helped me build connections that will be beneficial in my future. These connections may lead to potential job opportunities, recommendations, or simply a supportive network of like-minded individuals.

What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?

It provides a diverse learning environment where students are exposed to a wide range of disciplines, perspectives, and approaches to problem-solving. This interdisciplinary exposure promotes critical thinking skills and the ability to connect ideas across various fields, fostering creativity and innovation. Collaborative projects and discussions among students studying different subjects enhance communication skills and encourage a holistic understanding of complex issues. Additionally, being part of a diverse academic community prepares individuals for the realities of the professional world, where interdisciplinary collaboration is increasingly valued. Overall, the College offers a well-rounded educational experience that equips students with a comprehensive skill set and prepares them for a wide range of career paths.

Have you done any internships, study abroad programs, or any other learning experiences you’d like to share? If so, what was that like?

This summer I attended Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s 44th Annual Leadership Fellows Program. It was an incredible opportunity where I, along with 43 other wonderful college women from different parts of the country, gathered in San Diego for a week-long session focused on enhancing our leadership skills within the sorority, community, and our chosen career paths. The program was exceptionally well-structured and provided us with a holistic approach to leadership development. We had the chance to engage in a wide range of activities, workshops, and discussions that emphasized personal growth, professional development, and community engagement. One of the highlights of the program was the opportunity to network with inspiring leaders who shared their experiences and provided invaluable insights. Throughout the week, we explored various aspects of leadership, such as effective communication, team building, conflict resolution, and strategic planning. The program also aimed to encourage us to make a positive impact in our communities. We participated in a service project, volunteering our time to give back to the San Diego environment. These experiences reinforced the importance of servant leadership and demonstrated how our sorority values can be applied in many ways to uplift others. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, and I am confident that the lessons I learned will shape me into a more capable and impactful leader.

Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you.

Professor Laura Kirk has been an exceptional mentor and guide throughout my time at KU. Her unwavering support and belief in my abilities have encouraged me to push beyond my limits and explore new horizons in the performing arts. Her compassion for her students is unmatched, and she goes above and beyond to ensure their growth and success. Laura’s dedication to her craft as an educator and actress is truly commendable, and I look up to her as a shining example of how to balance passion, talent, and kindness.

Markus Potter, another individual I am fortunate to have as a mentor, possesses an extraordinary talent for storytelling and directing. His commitment to his art is evident in every project he undertakes. Markus’s intelligence in understanding the intricacies of theater and his ability to bring out the best in his actors is truly remarkable. He fearlessly pushes boundaries and challenges conventions, creating thought-provoking and impactful productions. I am grateful for his guidance in helping me develop my own artistic voice and his unwavering belief in my abilities.

In addition to Laura and Markus, I cannot overlook the countless individuals at KU who have lent their support and help along the way. From my fellow classmates to the backstage crew and staff, their collaboration and encouragement have been invaluable.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

When I graduate, my foremost goal is to continue working hard and creating art that speaks through and to the art itself. I am passionate about storytelling and using my voice as a platform to shed light on important narratives and perspectives. Halle Berry’s groundbreaking achievement as the only African-American woman to win an Oscar in a leading role is undeniably significant and inspiring. One of my goals is to win an Oscar in a leading role as I strive to help pave the way for more diverse talents to be recognized and celebrated on such prestigious platforms. I also aspire to contribute to the evolution of art itself. Acting, for me, is not just about fame and recognition. It is about the transformative power that stories possess. My aim is to continuously seek out roles and projects that serve both entertainment and empathy, touching on subjects that resonate with audiences on a deeper level. By remaining dedicated, constantly honing my skills, and seeking opportunities that align with my values, I believe in my ability to make a lasting impact as an actress. While winning an Oscar would be an incredible achievement, the true fulfillment lies in the journey itself, in the ability to create art that moves people. I believe that with God all things are possible, and I am looking forward to what he has ahead for me.