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Evanston native mines Hollywood stint for her show ‘Why Not Me?’

Jen Bosworth is starring her one-woman show “Why Not Me: Love Cancer Jack White.”

Jen Bosworth is starring in her one-woman show “Why Not Me: Love, Cancer and Jack White.”

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‘Why Not Me:
Love, Cancer
and Jack White’

♦ 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through Dec. 8
♦ Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont

♦ Tickets, $20

♦ (773) 327-5252 or

Updated: December 19, 2012 1:20PM

In 2000, Jen Bosworth was doing pretty well with her more or less second-hand ambition to become an actress.

That year, she moved to Los Angeles and soon realized “every cliche and stereotype about that place is true.”

That marked the beginning of a decade filled with disillusionment, deadly disease and gradual self-discovery, which the Evanston native reviews in her one-woman show “Why Not Me: Love, Cancer and Jack White,” now running through Dec. 8 at Stage 773 in Chicago.

Bosworth only considered becoming an actress because a good high-school friend (class of ’93) had a passion for performing and she thought “maybe that’ll make me pretty.”

After graduating from DePaul’s theater school and scoring some prestigious stage and TV gigs in Chicago, Bosworth moved to L.A. Meeting with a big management agency her third day in town, she was told, “We’ve seen your reel, we think you’re good, but you need to lose 70 pounds in a month.”

“I officially stopped acting that day,” Bosworth said. That is, she stopped playing by the rules of the movie and TV industry.

She eventually had an opportunity to become office manager for actor Nicolas Cage — who was happy she had no industry ambitions. She spent the next six years on the periphery of major-league Hollywood craziness.

“He’s a strange man,” Bosworth said. “Well, he’s a strange and generous man, but he’s a movie star, and they’re all space aliens, basically. I did very little office managing. I did a lot of shopping for people and picking up dry cleaning and picking up dog poo. Everybody has a dog, so there’s a lot of dog poo.”

After driving herself into the ground in Hollywood (“It’s a great place to ruin your 20s”) Bosworth quit in 2006 and came home. The day she landed, she received a call saying her father was in intensive care and seriously ill. He died a month later.

Not long after that, Bosworth fell in love with a guy from her old Evanston neighborhood, who was subsequently diagnosed with early-onset prostate cancer — from which he eventually recovered. However not long after that, Bosworth’s mother was diagnosed with an advanced case of breast cancer, which took her life three years later.

While caring for her mother, Bosworth began having an intense dream romance with rock star Jack White — details best left for her performance. Which is being funded, by the way, by a bequest from her always-thrifty mother, who said to her, days before she died in 2011, “I want you to quit your dead-end job and live your dream.” “I thought, ‘Wait a minute. All these other people are living their dreams and being performers and writers. Why not me? Why can’t I do this?’

“Of course, the only correct answer to that is ‘I can.’ ”

Bruce Ingram is a local free-lance writer.

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