Jordan Baker of 'Native Gardens': 'It’s hard to listen when the message is a brick'

by John Moore | Apr 04, 2018
Jordan Baker

From The Normal Heart to Native Gardens: Broadway star hopes new comedy can be a gateway to real understanding 

MEET JORDAN BAKER
Night SkyJordan Baker, who plays Virginia in the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming Native Gardens, is best known for creating the role "C" in the New York production of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Three Tall Women. Her Broadway credits include Garden District, Suddenly Last Summer and The Normal Heart. Off-Broadway credits include Night Sky (pictured at right, along with DCPA National Theatre Conservatory masters graduate Maria Christina Oliveras), Is Life Worth Living? and Milk. Regionally, she was in the original casts of Luna Gale at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and Appropriate (recently performed at the Curious Theatre Company) at the Humana Festival in Kentucky. Her TV and film credits include The Post, Land of Steady Habits, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and New Adventures of Old Christine.

  • Jordan Baker. Hometown: Great Falls, Mont.
  • Home now: Los Angeles
  • Training: Associate of Arts from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York; B.A. from Smith College; M.F.A. from Rutgers University
  • What's your handle? @jordankilner on Twitter and @jordanbakerkilner on Instagram
  • Websites: JordanBaker.net, roomforthoughtnyc.com and JordanBakerKilner.Arbonne.com
  • Twitter-sized bio: Curious and breathing.
  • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? What a funny question! Who needs a career? Let’s have a life! I pursue so many things — acting does not keep me from doing so. Friends cannot believe how many things I do. So there is nothing left on the plate in my life. I am doing it all and adding adventures every day. Show me something!
  • One role you were completely miscast for: I was actually offered the role of Lynn Fontanne in Ten Chimmneys at the Cleveland Playhouse. I said, “But, she’s 5-foot-2, dark, a bird — and British! Have they taken a look at me lately?” But I took it, and it was the most creative time of my life. I love miscasting.
  • Bucket-list role: I don’t pine for roles. I see things and go there. Typically it's more about the story than my role in it.
  • One seminal experience where you saw greatness play out in front of you:
    I have seen so many transformational performances — but the one that has stuck with me recently was Springsteen on Broadway. It was totally unexpected. I am not really an avid Bruce fan, but he stood on stage with a guitar and a piano, and he talked about life and where the springsteenonbroadwaymusic came from. And when he played it — it wasn’t anything like what we know. It was pure poetry. The lyrics and music are very different without orchestration. He said it was all about us — that we should ignore him and disappear into our own story. That was deeply moving and transformative — and all the more inspiring because he not only performed it, but he lived it and wrote it.
  • Kevin KilnerSmall world: My husband is Kevin Kilner, who starred last year in the Denver Center's production of The Christians (pictured right together in a 2009 production of 'Is Life Worth Living' at the Mint Theatre in New York).
  • What are you listening to on Spotify right now? Creedence Clearwater Revival. I just rediscovered my childhood. CCR gets ya’ goin’.
  • What is Native Gardens all about? Karen Zacarías' play is about a young Latino couple who move into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though their neighbors have the best intentions, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be.
  • Why does The Native Gardens matter? We live in a time of great chaos, anger, violence and fear, and we rage against "the other." Talking has become so difficult for this country at work and in our neighborhoods. It’s hard to listen when the message is a brick. This play uses humor to open the gates for looking at the complexity of who each of us are. There are no heroes and no losers. Everyone is so complex and different and walking many sides of the fence. If we could only just make room in the same way we would like others to make room for us ...
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Native Gardens? Is there one person you are judging? Go and see if you can make room for them. You have no idea what is going on in someone else’s house. Could you make room for being more loving?
  • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? Listen to them. What do they value? Can you see where they are coming up short? What don’t they know? Tell them the truth as best you can. Nurture writers of ALL AGES. We lost so many generations during the AIDS crisis. We have not caught up.
  • What do you want to get off your chest? Stop killing children. Stop with guns. I am so grateful they are speaking out in their own defense. I come from a family of hunters, cattle ranchers and farmers in Montana. I know the importance of a gun. But what is happening now is seriously irresponsible, greedy and inhuman. It can’t just be business as usual. We have a problem. We need to adjust. We need to talk. We need to take action to protect our people. And more guns is not the answer. As a professor, I am always frightened walking on campus. I don't want a closed campus. I want to walk free. But our campus security can’t protect us from automatic weapons. Our police can’t. Take them off the market. I can’t imagine the levels of fear our children are experiencing. It is mentally harming generations to come. Listen to how other countries have dealt with the problem. There is a solution that does not need to be based in fear and hate and more weapons. We are smarter and tougher than that.
  • What's one thing we don't know about you? I couldn’t have children — and that left the door open for some unusual children to enter my life. I have mentored a DACA child for 14 years, and I have been an advocate to a young man in prison for nine years. It’s very personal, one-on-one, and while they say I have saved their lives — they have saved mine. I learn so much from them each and every day. 

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Jordan Baker. Native Gardens. John MooreJohn Ahlin and Jordan Baker make their Denver Center debuts in 'Native Gardens,' which has its first public performance on Friday (April 6). Photo by John Moore.

Native Gardens: Ticket information
NativeGardens_show_thumbnail_160x160Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virgina have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt play about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.

  • Presented by DCPA Theatre Company
  • Performances Through May 6
  • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
  • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
Previous NewsCenter coverage of Native Gardens:
Photos, cast list: Native Gardens draws line in the soil

More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

• Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
• Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
• Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
• Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
• Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
• Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
• Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
• Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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