Jennie Eisenhower has many cherished memories from her days at Conestoga High School. But the one she recalls most fondly is when her grandfather, former president Richard Nixon, came to see her perform as Little Red Riding Hood. “It was one of his last public appearances before he passed away,” says Eisenhower, who graduated in 2006. “He spent a full hour after the show talking to all the kids and autographing anything people wanted.
It was amazing for me to have him there. He was always very supportive.”
After she finished up at Conestoga, Eisenhower went on to Northwestern University, where she earned a degree in theater and communications. Then she headed to New York City to pursue an acting career. She’s had roles in several off-Broadway productions and a few movies, including Mona Lisa Smile.
Other Conestoga highlights include lead roles in The Sound of Music and The Crucible. “Having those opportunities in high school was one of the biggest things that shaped me as a young performer,” she says. “It was the only real exposure I had to theater.”
By her junior year, Eisenhower was going away to summer acting camp. But she always had plenty to do come fall. “Thank goodness, Conestoga had a great drama program—they put on a musical and a play every year,” she says.
Eisenhower is still close with her high-school mentor, Suzanne Dickinger, who teaches choir and is the musical director for its plays. “She really believed in me,” says Eisenhower. “She gave me a lot of chances with my roles.”
Eisenhower recently returned to her alma mater to direct some of the plays alongside Dickinger. “It was great training, because I love to direct, too,” she says.
This fall, you can see her as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family at the Media Theatre. “I’ve come a long way since putting on shows for my parents as a kid,” she says, laughing.