An interview with alumna Jennifer Garner ’94

Helen Nickerson ’21, The Denisonian Sports Photo Editor and the founder of the Instagram page Humans of Denison conducted a one-on-one interview with alumna Jennifer Garner ’94 prior to Denison’s 178th Annual Commencement.

Helen Nickerson ’21, Sports Photo Editor — The Denison community was excited by the presence of alumna Jennifer Garner ‘94 as Denison’s 178th Annual Commencement speaker. Helen Nickerson ‘21, The Denisonian Sports Photo Editor, had the opportunity to interview Garner about her time at Denison and a little about herself the day before Commencement.

Jennifer Garner ’94 and Helen Nickerson ’21 pose together after the interview.  Following a supporting role in Pearl Harbor, Garner gained recognition for her performance as CIA officer Sydney Bristow in the ABC spy-action thriller Alias, which aired from 2001 to 2006 and from the Romance movie that aired in 2014 titled13 Going on 30.

Helen Nickerson (HN): How did you learn about Denison and later then decide to attend?

Jennifer Garner (JG): I grew up knowing about it because my best childhood friend’s dad went to Denison. I didn’t take it seriously until I received the brochure, which was very pretty. I decided to apply right at the deadline, I definitely procrastinated (and I still do now). But, I turned out to be lucky.

HN: Do you have a favorite Denison story?

JG: My first ballet class, freshman year I was messing around and tried to entertain the other dancers. Except nobody laughed except one girl. She became [one of] my best friends and we still are.

JG: I have always wanted to be and still want to be a school librarian. I love matching kids with the right books because I love children’s literature.

HN: When you attended Denison did it help you prepare for your career?

JG: Definitely, in more ways than I could imagine. For example, people who went to conservatories and performing art schools couldn’t be in main stage productions until their junior or senior year but here I was around a community of serious performers that could dive into this as early as freshman year.  Luckily, I was always on stage and there’s nothing more valuable than that.

Some of the advice that Garner ’94 gave to the class of 2019.

HN: You have achieved great success. How much is due to luck and to hard work?

JG: It definitely is a combination of both. I got lucky, early on. The luck is in the longevity because the fact that I’m still doing this 25 years later still is crazy to think about.  

HN: In advertisements, movies, and articles you come across as positive. How do you maintain that positive attitude?  

JG: It’s your job to represent yourself at all times, with the way you want to be represented in the future. At the moment you can’t give into throwing a tantrum. You simply need to rise about it. Discipline is key.

HN: What is your go-to workout?

JG: I love Body by Simone, and it’s dance cardio. It’s always fun for me, which I find important.

University President Adam Weinberg Tweeted in response to her speech after Commencement.

HN: What’s your favorite book?

JG: It’s always my current book, for example, Educated [by Tara Westover] I just finished.  

HN: And, finally the last question, what’s your favorite movie or movie(s)?  

JG: I love Election, Shawshank Redemption, and Napoleon Dynamite.

Watch the live stream from Denison’s 178th Commencement Ceremony to watch Garner’s full speech as the keynote speaker.