A chat with JAGGED LITTLE PILL’s Emily Nkomo

Jagged Little Pill is opening in Australia!

A musical comprised of the music of Alanis Morissette, the Sydney premiere of Jagged Little Pill marks the first international production of the show outside of Broadway.

The show follows the Healy family navigating through the difficulties of life such as battling addiction, grappling with trauma, exploring sexuality, encountering racism, and processing sexual assault. Theatre has long been an agent of change, acting as a platform to reflect real issues back onto its audience – Jagged Little Pill holds that mirror right up, creating a forum for discussion and inviting a societal change.

Having only graduated high school in 2020, Emily Nkomo is making both her professional and lead stage debut in the role of Frankie Healy, daughter of MJ (Natalie Bassingthwaighte) and Steve (Tim Draxl), and sister to Nick (Liam Head). Emily’s screen credits include a lead in ‘The Funny Ones’ documentary as herself for ABC ME’S International Day of the Girl specials, 3 seasons on 7two’s children show News of the Wild, as well as various TV advertisements over the years for Nickelodeon, Big W and Aldi. Emily has also sung competitively at talent quests and events such as the Sydney Eisteddfod, where she won first place in her Musical Theatre section (2018). Outside of her theatrical world, Emily is studying a Bachelor of Speech Pathology at the University of Sydney

Emily Nkomo | Photo by Stuart Miller

Jagged Little Pill is your first professional show – what was it like when you found out you got the gig?

Emily: I was reading when I found out, and then I checked the e-mail that I got… and I just screamed. My mom was devastated and turned off the stove because she thought something was wrong, and I couldn’t talk for like a good five minutes [laughs] I just stared at the screen.

Do you see any of yourself in Frankie?

Emily: Mmm, yeah. I really resonate with that feeling of defining yourself, defining where you belong, where and how you can use your voice. I’m not transracially adopted [like Frankie], but I am transnational. I was born in a different country, and I grew up in a different country. I think there’s a lot that aligns in the fight against finding where you belong and finding a kind of like a middle ground to some extent.

Jagged Little Pill is quite unique in its representation, championing BIPOC and queer performers and allowing them to tell and share stories specific to their experiences.

Emily: Exactly. There’s a difference between representation and diversity. Diversity is kind of even, in just the word itself, a little bit secluding. This is why I feel like even though I’m not transracially adopted, I can see myself through that through that lens.

Do you have a favourite song from the show?

Emily: I’m so excited for the swing set, the “Head Over Feet” swinging around. And Ironic’s just… that was the only Alanis song I knew previously, so I think that one as well.

How have you found working alongside industry professionals like Nat Bassingthwaighte and Tim Draxl?

Emily: I’m just soaking everything in here. Anything anybody says, I’m just taking notes. They’re really lovely as well, and not scary to us. Yeah, just soaking it all in and learning as much as I can.

Jagged Little Pill deals with a large array of serious themes. How do you as an actor work through the serious content?

Emily: I’ve been trying to like learning as I go. I really like the idea of kind of separating myself from the character, even though there’s a lot of me in Frankie, so that I’m not taking in all of the show and bringing it back home. I like the idea of like changing clothes, or I have a different playlist that I listen to. So coming here [to rehearsals] I have like a playlist that I think resonates with Frankie, and then going home I listen to things that are a bit more me, but also on the more chill side.

Jagged Little Pill opens at Sydney’s Theatre Royal on December 2nd, and moves to Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre from January 2nd, 2022. 

For tickets and more information, visit the Jagged Little Pill website.

Header image: Stuart Miller

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of AussieTheatre.com. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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