Solana Beach woman brings Hollywood skills to North County kids
A Solana Beach native is passing her skills learned in various Hollywood jobs to local children.
Jolene Bogard, who has worked for 30 years in television as a development executive, director and assistant to an unnamed A-list actor, has been teaching acting classes at the Youth Arts Academy - Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito - Carmel Valley, Polster Branch since October 2015.
“I think it’s great to foster kids through the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s programs because they do awesome scholarships, and I think it’s just wonderful,” she said.
As a child, Bogard, the daughter of former Solana Beach Mayor Marion Dodson, always enjoyed live entertainment.
“My parents always took me to the theater as a kid, and I always dreamed of being an actress,” Bogard said. “I never believed in myself and never had the self-esteem for it.”
Still, being a part of the silver screen was something she continued to long for.
She eventually went to college to study television and cinema, then moved to Los Angeles to work in various production roles before meeting her husband and moving to Huntington Beach about a decade ago.
There, she found herself with more time on her hands.
Bogard decided to volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club of Huntington Valley, where her stepdaughter was involved in plays.
“They needed volunteers, and I told them I had a background,” she said. “They ended up firing the director and asking me to stay on until they found somebody new. It was like my job was kind of rooting for me.”
She then continued to help put on more shows in roles like stage managing and directing, and learned to love working with children.
When she and her family moved back to her hometown of Solana Beach in 2014, she pitched a similar program as the Huntington Valley one to Youth Arts Academy, which she learned did not have a theater program.
The classes were approved, and she started off in October 2015 with four students. Now, Bogard, who puts on classes several times a week, has about 40 students and puts on multiple productions every year. She also offers acting summer camps.
“I had a really great response from the kids,” Bogard said. “The parents were like, ‘Wow, you do really good shows.’”
Her casts are comprised of kids who audition, which costs $300 per audition, and her students from her classes, which cost $50 to enroll in.
Her acting classes take place Wednesdays for 5- to 10-year-olds from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and for pre-teens from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. She also teaches improv classes on Mondays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
In a production of Into the Woods, she said she was successful in “pushing kids out of their comfort zones.”
But, she said, she will take any child actor in any ability level.
“They might not have a lead role, but I try to build off their abilities,” she said, adding she is currently working on a production of The King and I. “I have a little boy named Ryan who’s 8, and he comes to every class and every rehearsal. The other day I gave him a pretty big role. I made him the prince. He was shocked, but I told him I thought he could handle it. He showed me he really wants more, so I decided to challenge him a little bit.”
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