20 Under 30: Leah Jenkins
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Photo Kevin O'Riley
Education Director, Springfield Regional Arts Council
Born: January 18, 1982
Scan a list of local plays, musicals and artistic events in Springfield over the last two years. Now, pick one at random. Chances are good you’ll find Leah Jenkins name (or her maiden name, Hamilton) somewhere in the program.
Leah has taken the local arts scene by storm since moving back to her hometown, after studying at the Royal Scottish Academy in Glasgow, in 2006. Her first acting gig, the female lead in The Full Monty, turned heads (and introduced her to her now-husband, the Skinny Improv’s Jeff Jenkins). But opera is her passion, and Leah soon found herself working part-time at the Springfield Regional Arts Council. A few months later, the head council’s education job—and oversight of programs like Arts in the Park, Movies at Founders Park, and others—was hers.
But that’s only a portion of the time she devotes to the arts. Since Monty, Leah has participated in a number of Springfield Regional Opera and Springfield Little Theatre productions, served as vocal director for SLT’s just-finished Tick, Tick… Boom!, teaches 8th graders for the Southwest Missouri Children’s Choir, and organizes weekly Operazzi programs at Nonna’s for the opera. All this while holding down a gig with Octarium, a Kansas City-based touring vocal group (she drives to K.C. every weekend several months out of the year for rehearsals). She also donates her time as a committee member for the city’s Red Wagon Children’s Coalition, and the Chamber’s The Network.
The setup is perfect, Leah says, because it allows her to have two sides: Educator by day, performer by night. “Performing all the time is too stressful,” she says. “It’s very self-indulgent. I’m glad to do something for the community.”
Once only sentimentally attached to Springfield, Leah hopes she’s here to stay and has dreams of—along with Jeff—helping the local arts scene develop into something truly amazing.
What’s your favorite:
Larry King Live
Rufus Wainright or The Pogues
Childhood cartoon character?
Red Wine (Malbec)
Local bar AND restaurant (name both)?
Ralph Vaughnn Williams or Beethoven
Local arts event (be honest)?
Even though I work the festival, Artsfest is always amazing. It brings about such a great community spirit and really highlights the amazing talent we have here in our region, visual, performing arts, non profits, etc. Also, I love The Springfield Playhouse shows at The Skinny Improv. They are so imaginative and unique. It makes me feel like a kid again. I truly love all of the local theatres and performance groups as well as First Friday Art Walk and am happy to live in a community that supports them.
What’s the first website you check every day?
One night, no consequences, whom do you seduce?
My husband or John C. Reilly, but they're almost the same if you think about it :)
What’s the best thing about being younger than 30?
You can still use your college student I.D. Card from 6 years ago at the movies or when traveling for a great discount.
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