Leadership Edge with Dirty Dancing’s “Baby” Jennifer Grey
For my leadership series, I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Jennifer Grey. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and get a flu shot, you could miss it. 35 years ago, Jennifer Grey’s fictional brother Ferris skipped high school for some much-needed “me time.” This year, Jennifer is getting her shot at a “me day” and supporting Flu Shot Fridays, an unbranded educational campaign designed to drive awareness of the importance of flu vaccinations, especially among those 50+. Flu Shot Fridays, a collaboration with American Nurses Association (ANA) and Sanofi Pasteur.
Jennifer Grey is a Golden Globe Award-nominated American actress, best known as Frances “Baby” Houseman in Dirty Dancing (1987), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Reckless (1984). Her other feature films include Red Dawn (1984), The Cotton Club (1984), Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989), Bounce (2000),Redbelt (2008), The Wind Rises (2013), In Your Eyes (2014), Duck Duck Goose (2018), and Bittersweet Symphony (2019). Grey has appeared in Criminal Justice, If the Shoe Fits, Dancing with the Stars, and Phineas and Ferb.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to acting? I grew up surrounded by some of the most interesting and talented artists, directors, composers, writers and actors. I grew up watching my dad, Joel Grey, and watching him work as an actor, so that was the only life I was really exposed to. I just thought it was the greatest job of all time, the excitement of live theater and getting to play all kinds of different characters from different worlds. I was lucky to have grown up in New York in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, maybe the best time ever to be there.
You’ve been in a lot of movies and received a Golden Globe nomination. What was your favorite movie to be in, and why? Filming Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was one of the most fun professional experiences of my life, because of John Hughes. We were in improvisational heaven together. When we worked together, it felt very creative and alive. Like the bit on the staircase in the police station was improvised. He had a vision and a style that was kind of cartoony but I trusted his vision.
What do you stand for? What is/are your life philosophies? I really believe in giving back to the world in whatever big or small ways, being grateful for all of my blessings and to hopefully be able, in some way, to ease another’s suffering. It’s important to take care of yourself and strike that balance between that and taking care of others. When overwhelmed or struggling, I find it extremely helpful to remind myself to be in the moment, because “this very moment” is usually manageable.
Tell us about your latest campaign – Flu Shot Fridays. With flu season fast approaching I am partnering with the American Nurses Association and Sanofi-Pasteur on “Flu Shot Fridays,” to urge people to get their flu shot and while they’re at it, to also take the opportunity to do something special for yourself. To enjoy yourself by treating yourself because we all could use a little more joy these days. In protecting yourself from getting potentially very sick, you’re also doing something to keep your loved ones safe in what could possibly be a particularly brutal flu season. We’ve all had the flu and we all know how awful it can be but with the overcrowding of hospitals at this time, I can’t imagine adding to an already overburdened system. So, I am taking my daughter to get our flu shots because I want to minimize the chances of that happening and get some mommy /daughter time too.
Why is it important to get your flu shot this year? You know, in preparing for this campaign, I’ve been reading up and learned that for some- specifically those over 50 like me and people of any age with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease – the flu may not be just a few days of feeling rotten; it can lead to very serious complications. The CDC is predicting this flu season could be more severe than last year due to relaxed COVID-protecting measures so for me, getting the shot makes sense to me.
I believe it’s of the utmost importance to take the best possible care of my health physically by getting my flu shot, but I also want to be mindful of giving myself some fun and relaxation time as well. Making the time to go for a walk in the park, or the beach, to grab a favorite meal or cuddle up with a good book. Although our campaign is called Flu Shot Fridays, any day of the week is a good one to get your shot.
What was the best advice you received and what advice do you have for other actors? I was given a lot of advice when I started acting, and generally, the rule is if you can do anything else, you should because acting is not for the faint of heart – unfortunately, I couldn’t even think of anything else to do.
The best advice I can give an actor is to also become a great writer-actor-director – to make your own opportunities, so you are not always waiting for someone to give you the opportunity to work.
What do you want the readers to know (any calls to action)? It is so important to take care of the things you can control, which is why I’m encouraging everyone to protect themselves against the flu this season and check out Flu Shot Fridays online. There is a website – FluShotFridays.com – which will have a flu shot locator, and on Facebook and Twitter. People can hashtag “Flu Shot Fridays” and tell us how they spent their “me time.”