With Her 12th Broadway Show, Jenifer Foote Is Happy to Finally Be Herself Onstage

Playbill Pride   With Her 12th Broadway Show, Jenifer Foote Is Happy to Finally Be Herself Onstage
The Tootsie swing and Legacy Robe recipient celebrates being and out and proud woman in the Tony-winning musical.
Jenifer Foote
Jenifer Foote Marc J. Franklin

“I’ll never not connect to the 10-year-old self that felt like, ‘Someday I hope I get to be in a national tour,’” Jenifer Foote says. “That’s about as big as I could dream.”

Foote could have become jaded. Currently a swing in the ensemble of Tootsie at the Marquis Theatre, the Tony-nominated musical marks her 12th Broadway show. But she remains as excited as any fresh-off-the-bus newbie to the city.

She’s also a tiny bit relieved to be in a show that allows her to wear jeans, after stints in Hello, Dolly!, Holiday Inn, She Loves Me, On the Twentieth Century, and Follies.

“A year ago, I was putting on a bustle and feeling like I just wanna look like myself in a show,” she says, laughing. “Just to have that sort of experience. And so Tootsie afforded me that!”

Tootsie also afforded her the chance to be in at the beginning of a brand-new musical comedy, working with the rest of the team to craft one of the funniest shows on Broadway. “This is probably obvious information, but when you’re doing a revival, it’s a good show. It’s being revived because it’s good,” she says. “A brand new show, we feel like, ‘Oh, we’re doing great work ’cause it’s hilarious.’ But then that audience comes and all of a sudden you feel like, ‘I don’t know, is it OK? Do you like it? What do you think?’ But it’s been an exciting experience because people are sort of discovering it with you.”

Not that Foote’s job allows her much downtime. As a swing, she must be ready to go on for one of her assigned tracks at a moment’s notice. “I feel like as a swing, your brain can never turn off,” she says. “You never have a day where you’re just sort of chilling. You’re at all times mentally preparing. So while you physically have some time off, mentally it’s high stakes at all times.”

As an out woman on Broadway, Foote is also in a singular position that many may not think of. “There are very few gay women actors in the business so that is something that occurs to me, that I’m often the lone person,” she says. “And that’s a rare thing that I don’t think gay men or straight women and men would think about. I’ve often heard people say that your sexuality doesn’t define you, which I get that sentiment of course. But the truth is, it may be one of my favorite things about myself! It’s made me a super thoughtful person, I know myself well, I have confidence, I can see a bigger world view. It’s those things about being gay that can only make me a better person!”

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