Jessie Hooker - Class of 2006

By Alex MacNamara

When Jessie Hooker graduated from Wyoming Seminary in 2006, her classmates, as reported in the yearbook, voted her “most likely to end up on Broadway.” That certainly seems to be where she is headed.

Hooker recently toured the country with the theatrical adaptation of the movie “Freaky Friday.” The tour began at the La Hoya Playhouse in La Hoya, California, and concluded in Houston, Texas. Somehow, in the midst of her hectic touring schedule, she has found the time to plan her November wedding. “The challenge every day is to stay in the moment and stay present,” she says.

Instead of becoming swept up in a whirlwind of tasks and responsibilities, however, she remains true to the passion that has driven her since she was seven years old.

Hooker has always loved performing and remembers doing anything she could to sing, act and perform. Just before her ninth-grade year at GAR, she attended a Performing Arts Institute (PAI) production of “Les Misérables” at the Kirby Center, and her dream of acting in the theater began to come into sharper focus.

She knew immediately she wanted to attend PAI. “I remember auditioning for Nancy Sanderson in the Great Hall and I was so nervous, but she told me right then and there that she wanted me to apply for the scholarship to do the summer program,” she says.

In 2003, Hooker attended PAI again and performed in the ensemble in “Cabaret.” “I loved that I could eat, sleep, and breathe musical theater for six weeks in the summer,” she says.

During her time at PAI, she fell in love with Sem. She realized she belonged at the Upper School when she saw a familiar face, JASON SHERRY ’91, during a campus tour. She had performed with him in her first show, “Annie,” at the Music Box in Swoyersville. Hearing that the school musical that year would be “Into the Woods” finalized her decision to enroll at Sem as a sophomore. Her considerable acting and singing talents won her the coveted role of The Witch in that production, and to this day, “Into the Woods” is her favorite musical.

Soon after earning a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater at Shenandoah Conservatory, she was thrilled to land a role in the national tour of “Legally Blonde.” She says performing in Pennsylvania in front of hometown family and friends at the Scranton Cultural Center was an experience she will never forget.

In “Freaky Friday,” Hooker plays a high school “mean girl,” an unfamiliar yet fun role. Because the role is relatively new, she works with the show’s creative team to mold the character’s persona. It’s a dream come true to create something new, she says, and she loves both the show’s focus on empathy and the audience’s response to the themes presented in the production.

Hooker now sees more and more women of diverse races playing a wider array of roles and she “would like to follow that path of trailblazers. What motivates me is being able to inspire little girls that look like me, because I didn’t see too many doing what I love to do while I was growing up,” she says. “It would be awesome if girls who look like me can see me and feel like ‘Oh, I can do it too!’”