Singer, songwriter, dancer and actor, Desi Oakley is a quadruple threat and is bringing her interpretation of the lead role of Jenna in the groundbreaking musical “Waitress” to the Saenger’s Broadway in New Orleans series, June 12-17.
Originally from the mid-west, Oakley made her Broadway debut in the musical “Wicked,” and following it up with roles in “Evita,” “Annie” and “Les Miserables.” “Waitress” will showcase Oakley in the ground-breaking, all-female creative driven show, featuring music and lyrics by pop star Sarah Bareilles, and follows the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker as she searches for a better life out of a loveless marriage and in a small town.
But wait, there’s more. In addition to wowing audiences on stage, Oakley will also act as informal vlogger for the show in her new web series, “Pie a la Road,” documenting the show’s journey across stages around the U.S.
Basically, is there anything Oakley can’t do? Stay tuned for what promises to be an ever growing, genre-busting career.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I have performed since I was 8 years old but I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor for a living until I was in high school. Even then, I had no idea that all of this would actually work out.
Q: What’s on your personal play-list?
I listen to a huge array of different music. I love everything from folky singer-songwriters like Penny and Sparrow, to Drake, to gospel (Tasha Cobbs), from Top 40 to classical Chopin.
Q: Waitress has a groundbreaking female creative team. What’s your favorite aspect of taking this role in Waitress?
I am playing a woman in a show created and written by women. There’s nothing better, especially in this current climate, than being a part of a story about women. More specifically, this story affects many people, and I hear from so many of them — those who are abused, those who know someone stuck in an abusive relationship, people who were adopted, those with broken family relationships, people with dreams that are lost, some that are afraid to enter into relationships, and the list goes on. This show is so real. It is humbling to be a part of a show that has a real effect on people.
Q: What is the best part of traveling and being in a touring company? What’s your least favorite part?
The best part of traveling is getting the opportunity to experience different parts of the country, meet different people, and experience the show’s effect on different audiences. But traveling has its challenges — our only day off is our travel day. We adjust to different climates, different theaters, different beds, etc. It is a constant reminder to cling to the constants, like the show, and each other.
Q: Do you have a special routine you follow on show days?
Yes, I sleep as much as possible, drink tons of water, and warm up my voice.
Q: Have you visited New Orleans before? What are some things you are excited to try/visit while in the city?
I have been to New Orleans (my first time was last summer!) and I can’t wait to be back. Our opening night is actually my birthday, (June 12th!) I’m excited to spend more time exploring the amazing food and more of the best jazz joints. Listening to live jazz is my favorite thing to do ever.”
AT A GLANCE
Education: University of Michigan, BFA
Favorite Book Currently: A Year of Miracles
Favorite Food: French fries
Favorite TV show Currently: The Crown or Planet Earth 2
Favorite Movie: Anything Jim Carrey, Fun With Dick and Jane