This is an independent blog and is not affiliated with any particular church, group or conference. The term Bruderthaler refers to a specific ethnic or cultural Mennonite heritage, not to any particular organized group. All statements and opinions are solely those of the contributor(s). Blog comprises notebook fragments from various research projects and discussions. Dialogue, comment and notice of corrections are welcomed. Much of this content is related to papers and presentations that might be compiled at a future date, as such, this blog serves as a research archive rather than as a publication. 'tag

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mennonites at the Oscars ™

en Stearnkjekjikja
    From Glee to the Simpson's, from Roswell's aliens and Star Trek to Lady Gaga and Will & Grace -- a growing number of ethnic Mennonite actors is confidently, if perhaps a bit controversially, impacting how ethnic Mennonites and Amish are perceived...
    In celebration of the Oscars™, I thought it would be fun to indicate some of the acting powerbrokers of known Mennonite ethnicity.  This has been a somewhat difficult task in that actors are not known for revealing their religious upbringing or might not identify as ethnic Mennonites or Amish.  But, they are there – the following is just a taste as to who to look out for.
   While movies ( en Ssinema ) have long been controversial amongst Mennonite households and congregations, the number of Mennonites and ethnic Amish involved in film and television has grown tremendously and they are definitely making a name for themselves -- often bringing their ethnic roots along with them.  (I am not making a judgment about the spiritual ramifications -- merely noting and celebrating their shared ethnic roots.)
    From a list of some 45-odd ethnic Mennonites, Russländer Mennoniten and ethnic Amish, and giving Matt Groening a rest (we just congratulated him on the 500th Episode of his long-time classic animated series The Simpsons), four actors (catch up, women - this is so far a Men's Night at the MENnonite Oscars, ... ) stand out at present:

(c) Matt Groening
   Of course, Matt Groening (b. 1954 ) is the Dean of ethnic Mennonite and Amish television and film personalities.  Groening’s grandfather, Abram, was a Krimmer Mennonite intellectual who taught at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kans., though according to Wikipedia, Groening himself is a self-described agnostic.  Groening is best known as the creator of the popular television animated series The Simpsons and FuturamaThe Simpsons recently aired its 500th episode – only two scripted television shows have aired more episodes. 
    Groening was born in Portland, Ore. to Homer Groening and Margaret Wiggum.  His father is of Canadian Russian Mennonite background and his mother is Norwegian-American.
    Groening has two children, Homer (Will) and Abe by a previous marriage and is now married to Agustina Picasso.  Groening is step-father to her daughter Camille.

(c) Jonathon Groff
    Second billing would, at least for the moment, probably go to Jonathan Groff (b.1985) who plays the popular Jesse St James on the hit music comedy Glee. 
    Raised in Lancaster, Penn., Groff’s Mennonite roots are from his father’s, Jim Groff, side of the family.  According to Wikipedia, Groff’s mother, Julie, is a Methodist teacher and he was raised in the Methodist church.
    In 2007, Groff was nominated for a Tony Award™ as Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening.  Groff received an Obie Award™ in 2009 for Prayer for the Enemy and Singing Forest.  He has performed both on Broadway and in London’s famed West End theatre Districts.
    Groff came out publically in 2009 and is understood to be dating Hollywood actor and fellow Pennsylvanian Zachary Quinto.  Quinto, who came out in 2011, is best known for his roles in the television series Heroes and for the 2009 remake of Star Trek in which he played the younger Spock.  Quinto will play Spock in the next Start Trek film to be released in 2013.

(c) Brendan Fehr
    Brendan Fehr (b. 1977), born to a Mennonite Brethren (MB) family in New Westminster, BC, is probably the first practicing Mennonite television star. 
    Fehr made a name for himself playing the alien Michael Guerin in the television hit Roswell and now is known for his work with the CSI franchise, most notably playing lab assistant Dan Cooper on CSI: Miami, and as Jared Booth in Bones. His film work has been relatively minor with a small appearance as a US soldier in X-Men: First Class
    In 1990, Fehr moved to Winnipeg, Man., where he attended Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute, graduating in 1995.  Fehr’s career began in modeling and in minor television roles.
    Fehr now lives in LA, Calif., with his wife Jennifer Rowley.  Fehr and Rowley have two daughters.

(c) Taylor Kinney
    Taylor Kinney has the benefit and disadvantage of being better known for his dating life.  Since 2011, Kinney has been dating Stefani Germanotta, better known to her fans as Lady Gaga
    Kinney was raised by his mother and three brothers in Neffsville, Penn., studying business management at West Virginia University before becoming interested in acting.
    Kinney is best known for his long-standing role as Luke Gianni on Fashion House, his lead-role in Trauma and playing Mason Lockwood in The Vampire Diaries.  He has recently been cast for a lead role in NBC’s new drama Chicago Fire
    Kinney, who claims Lancaster, Penn., as his hometown, met Lady Gaga while appearing in her music video for You and I (2011) (from Gaga’s album Born this Way).  In the video, Kinney’s character is shown in an intimate relationship with Gaga who is dressed as a mermaid (that would be her, not him), possibly a stand-in for Gaga’s ex-lover Lüc Carl, on whose relationship the song is based.

(c) Benjamin Sprunger
    Benjamin Sprunger (b. 1974) is a Mennonite from Bluffton, Ohio. 
    Much of Sprunger’s work has been on stage.  Sprunger holds a BFA from Otterbein College and has worked extensively in Chicago in nationally recognized theatres such as Steppenwolf, TimeLine, About Face, The Bailiwick and The Goodman, with stints in Los Angeles, Calif.
    Sprunger’s screen work includes appearances as Matt on Will & Grace.  His filmography includes The Thief, Straight Jacket, The Choir Invisible and Basement
    Sprunger has been nominated twice(?) for Chicago’s Non-Equity Jeff Awards. 
    Sprunger’s most recent work has been in The Homosexuals at Chicago’s About Face Theatre and the currently running Enron at Chicago’s TimeLine Theatre.
    Sprunger, who came out at the age of 18, is partnered with Erik Burns.

    The above are merely the seemingly most active five ethnic Mennonites on screen.  While they are making quite a splash, there are at least 40 others who could join their ranks.  Notably absent are active Mennonite women in television and screen – though it is much more difficult to track down potential female actors who have possibly changed their maiden names.  Also, in Canada, one often notices potential ethnic Mennonite names in the credits but with no follow-up evidence.  I will try to track down more information for later posts.  Fehr’s co-star Jason Behr is often mentioned as having Mennonite ethnicity as is Smallville’s Allison Mack (Chloe), but the rumours lack confirmation at this time.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Mennonite Culture

606 agriculture AIMM Alcohol Alt-Oldenburger Amish Amish Prayer Amish voyeurism Anniversary of Russian Mennonites Architecture Archives Athletes Baptism Bess und Bettag Bible Study Bluffton College BMC Bob Jones University Bruderthaler Burial Customs Camp Funston Canadian Government Catherine the Great CCC Chaco Civil Rights Colonist Horse Congo Inland Mission Conscientious Objectors Consensus Cultural Criticism Death decals Definitions Dialogue diaspora Discipline Discrimination Divorce Drama Drugs Easter Emergent Church Movement ethnic violence Ethnicity Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Evangelical Mennonites Evangelicals exile Famine Fastpa folk art Footwashing Frente Menonita Front for the Defense of the Mennonite Colonies Furor mennoniticus Gardens gay Gay Marriage Gelassenheit Gemeinshaft Gender Studies General Conference German German Bible Gnadenfelde Goshen School Grace School grief Halodomar hate crimes Heirloom Seeds HMS Titanic Holocaust Holy Kiss Horses Hymns Identity Formation identity politics Immigration Immigration Song Inquisition Inter-faith Mennonites Jewish Diaspora Kairos Kleine Gemeinde Krimmer Mennonites Language LGBT Lustre Synthesis Lutheran and Mennonite Relations Magistracy Marriage Martyrs' Mirror MC-USA MCC Kits Mennonite Brethren Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Mennonite Decals Mennonite Diaspora Mennonite farming innovations Mennonite Flag Mennonite Heritage Plants Mennonite Horse Mennonite Identity Mennonite Literature Mennonite Refugees Mennonite Women Missions Molotschna Cattle Breed Movies Music Non-resistance Pacifism photography Pietism Plautdietsch Flag Plautdietsche Poetry Politics Postmodernism quilts Radio refugees Rites Roman Catholic and Mennonite Relations Roman Catholicism Russian Mennonite Flag Russian Mennonites Russian Orthodox Church secularism Shunning Southern Baptists Taxation Television Ten Thousand Villages Terms Viki-leaks Water Dowsing Wenger Mennonites Women's Studies World War 2 World War I


A. F. Wiens (1) A. H. Leahman (1) A. J. Wall (1) Abraham Gerber (1) Abram Groening (1) Adam Carroll (2) AIMM (3) Albert Wall (7) Allison Mack (1) Anne-Marie Goertzen Wall (1) Annie C. Funk (1) Aron Wall (1) B. F. Hamilton (1) Benjamin Mubenga (1) Benjamin Sprunger (1) Bernhard Dueck Kornelssen (1) Berry Friesen (1) Bitter Poets (3) Bob Jones University (2) Brandon Beachy (1) Brendan Fehr (1) Bruce Hiebert (1) C. Henry Niebuhr (1) C. R. Voth (1) Calvin Redekop (3) Carolyn Fauth (3) CBC News (1) Charles King (1) Chris Goertzen (1) Connie Mack (1) Corrie ten Boom (1) Dale Suderman (2) Daniel Friesen (1) Danny Klassen (1) David Classen (1) Dennis Wideman (1) Diane Driedger (3) Dick Lehman (1) Donald Kraybill (1) Donald Plett (1) Dora Dueck (1) Dustin Penner (1) Dwaine and Nancy Wall (1) Edna Ruth Byler (1) Eduard Wust (1) Elliott Tapaha (1) Elvina Martens (1) Eric Fehr (1) Esther K. Augsburger (1) Ethel Wall (1) Frente Menonita (1) Fritz and Alice Wall Unger (1) Gbowee (1) Georg Hansen (1) George P. Schultz (3) George S. Rempel (1) George Schultz (1) Gordon C. Eby (1) Goshen College (4) Gus Stoews (1) H. C. Wenger (1) H. F. Epp (1) Harold S. Bender (1) Heidi Wall Burns (2) Helen Wells Quintela (1) Henry Epp (1) Henry Toews (1) Ian Buruna (1) Isaac Peters (6) J. C. Wall (3) J. T. Neufeld (2) Jakob Stucky (1) James Duerksen (1) James Reimer (1) Jason Behr (1) Jeff Wall (1) Jim Kuebelbeck (1) Joetta Schlabach (2) Johann F. Kroeker (1) John Howard Yoder (1) John Jacob Wall (1) John R. Dick (1) John Rempel (1) John Roth (1) Jonathan Groff (1) Jonathan Toews (2) Jordi Ruiz Cirera (1) Kathleen Norris (4) Kelly Hofer (3) Kevin Goertzen (1) Keystone Pipeline (3) Leymah Gbowee (1) Linda May Shirley (1) Lionel Shriver (1) Lorraine Kathleen Fehr (2) Margarita Teichroeb (1) Marlys Wiens (2) Martin Fast (1) Matt Groening (2) Melvin D. Epp (1) Menno Simons (3) Micah Rauch (1) Michael Funk (1) Moody Bible Institute (2) Nancy Wall (4) Norma Jost Voth (1) O. J. Wall (2) Orlando J. Wall (3) Patrick Friesen (4) Peter Wall (1) Philip Landis (1) Phillip Jakob Spener (1) Rachael Traeholt (2) Randy Smart (3) Rhoda Janzen (1) Rob Nicholson (2) Robin Martins (1) Robyn Regehr (1) Roger Williams (1) Rosella Toews (1) Ruth Lederach (1) Sam Mullet (3) Sam Schmidt (1) Scot McKnight (1) Stacey Loewen (2) Stanley Hauerwas (2) Steven Wall (6) Susan Mark Landis (1) Taylor Kinney (1) Tom Airey (2) Victor Toews (4)