Jess Bennett, a student at Brookdale Community College, is a passionate performer who has been singing, dancing, modeling, and acting since she was three years old and is thrilled to be a part of the musical production Rock of Ages. She is currently the Vice President of the Business Club and a member of the Dance Club, where she enjoys choreographing and dancing with others who share her interests. Jess has recently been inducted into the PTK (Phi Theta Kappa) Honor Society, is a member of the National Success and Leadership Honor Society and will be graduating with an associate degree in business administration at the end of the Fall Semester 2023.
“I was looking for a school that allowed me to stay near my family, very affordable and someplace where I could still be involved in all the clubs and activities that I wanted to participate in. So, Brookdale fit that perfectly for me.”
Jess has always loved pageantry and has won numerous national and state titles. In 2020-21, Jess won the national title of East Coast Miss Congeniality, which was based on her performance on stage and everyone voting for her Miss Congeniality. She was one of over 500 contestants competing for that title. In February, Jess competed in Royal International Miss New Jersey. She prepared herself by focusing on her health and fitness and created a platform on Instagram called “Positivity By Jess @positivitybyjess, to share nice things in people’s feeds. She won the competition and walked in New York Fashion Week the next day. She will compete in the Internationals in July in Florida and is grateful for the opportunity to represent NJ. She will compete for Royal International Miss and Royal International Miss Role Model if she wins.
“I have been doing pageants since I was three,” Jess said. “Everyone has one thing in life that fits them perfectly, that’s mine.”
However, Jess’s true passion is singing, dancing, and acting. She recently auditioned for the musical production of Rock of Ages and was thrilled to be cast as a lead dancer and Waitress #1. She loves the 80s vibe of the show and is relishing the opportunity to act and dance in character.
She said, “We are doing kicks to splits, then we move along with the rhythm, dancing on a chair, and use all the props we have like rags, everyone swinging them around, in the opening scene which is so cool. It’s incredible, you are going to love it.”
Jess found out about the audition the day of the audition, picked a song to sing, and went in with her red leather jacket and heels. She admits to feeling a little intimidated by the many people there during the open audition, but she nailed her song, “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, and was called back for the acting and dancing portion. She had only 10 minutes to learn the choreography, but she still managed to impress the directors and was chosen as one of the lead dancers. Although she was called back for the lead role of Sherri, she is happy to have landed a role that allows her to sing, dance, and act in her first musical production at Brookdale’s Performing Arts Center.
Jess is also taking classes in Business Administration, with the goal of transferring to the University of Central Florida for Marketing or Sales. Her ultimate career is in digital marketing or social media for companies and eventually owning her corporation. Jess’s Business Club advisor, Ms. Phyllis Shafer, Professor of Business Management, has been a great source of support and inspiration for her. Jess credits her Intro to Business class for igniting her interest in business. She also invites everyone to join the Business Club at Brookdale Community College, which offers a great learning experience through guest speakers, field trips, and fundraisers.
“We went on a field trip to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which was super cool. Someone from the business Purple Glaze Donuts etc., Asbury Park, came to talk about how to run a small business, which was so helpful to people in the business club because most want to own their own business one day. We have guest speakers come in to talk about stocks and Ms. Shafer talks about how to budget for yourself and other personal finances.”
Jess enjoys volunteer work and regularly donates canned goods and books to a local senior center. She also sings to elders and writes letters to the elders and children at Meridian Health Bayshore Rehabilitation Center. She even reads to the kindergarteners at her old elementary school. Through PTK, there will also be many volunteering opportunities, she said, before the semester is over and after the musical is finished.
Jess was recently accepted into the Disney College Program, a college internship program. She had to go through several rounds of interviews to get accepted. If she decides to pursue this opportunity, she will continue to be enrolled at Brookdale and take online courses. The program is a paid internship and will benefit her goal to work at Disney in the future.
“My grandfather used to work at Disney and my mom was the head of entertainment at Six Flags. So, I have always wanted to be involved in that industry.”
Jess is excited to invite everyone to come and see Rock of Ages, as she believes the show is an amazing experience that they will not want to miss. She promises a mix of upbeat, slow, and seductive dances and assures everyone that they will be tapping their feet and dancing in their seats. “You are going to fall in love, cry, laugh, never want to leave, and walk out the door at the same time,” Jess said. She is proud to be a part of such an incredible show and is grateful for the opportunity to live out her dream.
You can see Jess perform in Rock of Ages at the following performances:
Friday, April 7 at 8pm
Saturday, April 8 at 2 pm (Senior Saturday $15 for ages 62+)*
Saturday, April 8 at 8 pm
Friday, April 14 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 15 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 16 at 2 pm
Friday, April 21 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 22 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 23 at 2 pm
Tickets are $20.
The Brookdale Performing Arts Center is located at 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ, Parking Lot 1 or 2.
For more information and tickets to the Rock of Ages musical visit the website or call the box office at 732-224-2411.
Link to Pancakes for Breakfast, the 1st place 2021 New Jersey 5 Day Film Challenge and Best Actress Award to Jess Bennett