Jacob Clemente is Yale’s own Broadway star
He only played Billy Elliot in Billy Elliot
When I was 12, I debated which color to change my braces to and raved about how soft Abercrombie sweatshirts were.
When Jacob Clemente was 12, he starred as Billy Elliot in Billy Elliot. Sounds about right.
The Saybrook freshman is too humble to brag about his accomplishments in theater, so we’ll do it for him.
This is The Tab sit-down with Jacob Clemente, the boy who who took Broadway by a storm by the time he was in middle school.
How did you get into theater/performing?
Well, neither of my parents did it, but my mom was really into the local theater. She wanted my little brother and sister to do something over the summer, so she got them into this summer camp for acting. I saw a picture and really wanted to try it, so I gave it a shot!
That’s so funny, you stole the show! Do your siblings still act?
Haha not anymore, no.
How old were you when you went to the camp?
I was in third grade! I’m not really sure how old that is.
So, how was it being the star of Billy Elliot?
It was a lot of fun and a LOT of work, but I really enjoyed it. A lot of the experiences I got while doing the show and while performing are very relatable to things I’m doing here, like with my groups and everything.
What are you involved in at Yale?
I’m in Alley Cats, Fifth Humor and Taps.
What is the weirdest/funniest memory you have from your acting career?
There was this one time when the actress on stage forgot one of her lines and started fumbling and forgetting everything and dropping stuff. She literally forgot everything she had to say and kept repeating the same word, “keys, keys, keys, keys.” And we were all so confused! I tried to cover for her, but it threw her off, so there was almost a minute of awkward silence on stage.
How do you deal with that stuff? You know, if someone forgets a line or something?
I forgot a line once also. But I guess you pray that the other person can put you back on track! I’m not sure, though, when I forgot a line it wasn’t a huge deal. It was really small and wasn’t very important to the show. But the audience definitely knew because there was a moment of awkward silence when the other actor was trying to figure out what was going on.
One of my friends who was playing Billy [Elliot] actually made up different words to this song as a joke and accidentally sang them on stage! They weren’t really inappropriate, but they were very weird lyrics that had absolutely nothing to do with the song. And it was sooo obvious! The stage director of the show made him write the lyrics to the song like 100 times after that.
Do you get in trouble for those kinds of things?
I mean, you did it, it happened, so they can’t really do much at that point!
What is the best part about being on Broadway? Other than being on Broadway.
Mine might be different from everyone else’s, but I thought the best part was that I got to skip the awkward middle school phase. I was in various different shows from 6th to 8th grade and was homeschooled, so I got to miss all of it!
So did you do anything performance-related in high school?
Yeah, I continued to dance and I taught at a local studio. I also did some school shows and directed a senior show there.
On the flip side, what is the worst part about being on Broadway?
Well, I think the worst part was coming back down to reality after Broadway. I just thought, what am I going to do now? Because I did so much in middle school, it felt like I wasn’t doing anything in high school. It was the worst freshman year, because New York City is very exciting and upstate New York is VERY boring. And sitting in all of my classes was torture, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So yeah, it felt a little downhill afterwards… But being here has changed that!
Who is your inspiration? Either a family member or a person whose career you want to emulate.
This one is so weird, but I love Christopher Walken. His form of comedy is my favorite! I can’t really do it, but I still really like it.
Do you see yourself staying in theater or moving to the screen?
That’s still what I’m trying to figure out here. I don’t know if I want to be in theater… I think if I felt it was a very viable thing for me at the moment, I’d definitely go for it, but I don’t know.
I’d really really love to work for somewhere like Pixar in animation! That’s why I’m considering a Math and Film double major, for animation purposes!
So, why this change from performance to production? Most people come here just for the Drama program!
I guess this change sort of happened during high school. In the 9th or 10th grade I got back into the public school and it seemed like everyone who was doing well in their class wanted to go into finance. So it turned from me wanting to be an actor to me wanting to do banking to me wanting to work in the finance side of film.
I would definitely love to pursue acting in the future, but if I don’t think it’s viable, I’d definitely love to work behind-the-scenes.
What are some things your into that people wouldn’t really expect?
I’m pretty into sports. I love golf and tennis. But that’s a boring answer, I’m pretty predictable.
What do you love most about Yale (so far)?
I think it’s all of the opportunities it offers its students. And there are so many interesting people who go here, one of my best friends is a Chemistry/Theater double major! I just love that there are opportunities to do so many cool and random things here. Like, if I wanted to major in Math and Econ, which are both very quantitative, I could still do a bunch of theater things on campus.
Do you think you’re going to try to do things with the Dramat?
Yeah, I definitely want to! I kind of regret not doing them earlier in the year…
You’re a freshman!
Haha I know, but I have a lot of friends who are already doing things! It was just so early in the year that I didn’t realize what was going on so I’ve had a bunch of people asking, “did you audition, did you audition?” And I’ll have no clue what they’re talking about. But, definitely at some time during my college experience!
What is your favorite show?
I really love Les Miserables, but everyone loves Les Miserables. Next to Normal is really good!
Finally, what is one thing you want the people of Yale to know about you?