Dear Evan Hansen Star Jessica Phillips Comes Out at 50
Author: Alex Cooper
Broadway vet and star of musical Dear Evan Hansen Jessica Phillips recently spoke with People about her experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, including discovering her queer identity.
“When the pandemic hit, I was at the peak of all this self-discovery and exploration,” Phillips, who had previously identified as a straight, cisgender woman, told the magazine.
Phillips, 50, had been starring in Dear Evan Hansen as Evan’s mother until shows in New York City were halted in March 2020. Her work schedule suddenly stopped.
“The shutdown really knocked the wind out of me,” she said.
The actor, who has starred in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Next to Normal, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Leap of Faith, quarantined with her child children from her ex-husband Nichols Rohlfing and then-husband Tad Wilson.
She eventually booked television work and flew out to Los Angeles on her own. In the isolation, she said, she learned more about herself in ways she never did before.
Phillips now identifies as queer.
“It wasn’t about changing identities, rather expanding my identity,” Phillips shared with People.
“That period of time [in L.A.] really was a beautiful experience for me and also really painful and scary and sad because, as you know, when we open ourselves to change and newness, there’s loss attached to that, and there was a lot of loss for me,” she said.
When she returned from L.A. she broke up with her second husband.
“That period of time [in L.A.] really was a beautiful experience for me and also really painful and scary and sad because, as you know, when we open ourselves to change and newness, there’s loss attached to that, and there was a lot of loss for me,” she explained.
Phillips told People that she had met theatrical publicist Chelsea Nachman the same year her second marriage began. After her time in L.A., she eventually felt “a special connection.”
Over Christmas, Nachman shared images on Instagram of the pair kissing in matching pajamas.
“It was all of the emotions,” Phillips said, referring to the image on social media. “It was super scary and super exhilarating. The celebratory part of it was beautiful to me. I was also aware of how surprised people might be or how it might be shocking news to some people.”
She was also nervous over the conversation she would have with her college-age sons.
“I had the conversations separately with each of them, and literally they were just like, ‘Oh, okay, great! So proud of you, Mom. That’s great!’ And then we moved on. It was so not a big deal,” Phillips said. “They were 100 percent on board and supportive and happy for me. Of course, I was relieved, but I was also surprised that it just wasn’t more of a thing.”
Phillips said there are many she still hasn’t told. “My relationship to myself — with myself — has been a decade in the making,” she explained.
Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Alex Cooper