Lena Cardwell talks her run as Simone as Passions, her new book and more. Learn more here--->>
Actress and Writer, Lena Cardwell, was born in Detroit where she began her career journey appearing in commercials. As a young girl, she was featured in national commercial campaigns for companies such as Nike and McDonald’s. She also performed in local musical theaters and competed in pageants.
Her family moved to New York City when Cardwell was in junior high, fell on tough times and endured severe hardships, including being homeless. Yet the enterprising young Cardwell would not be deterred from pursuing her dreams. For both junior and high school, she attended schools for the performing arts. And Cardwell would sing on subway platforms and on the street at places like Times Square to raise money so she could take singing and acting lessons.
Cardwell’s resourcefulness coupled with her talent opened doors and she landed a few small television roles before landing her first regular series role portraying Simone Russell on the soap opera Passions. “I have so much respect for the soap opera genre. It is the best bootcamp for actors, especially young actors. You have so much thrown at you that you have to pick up at the drop of a hat. I became really good at learning my lines quickly because there were so many pages of dialogue to get through. I was on the show for about two years. This gave me the time to really delve into the role, to explore Simone’s personality and character as a teenager and gave me the chance to try different things. It was an amazing experience and I had so much fun.”
After Cardwell left Passions, she appeared in several television shows (The Steve Harvey Show, Judging Amy, My Wife and Kids) and was in her first movie, the horror film, Jeepers Creepers 2. Then sort of out of nowhere, she disappeared into obscurity. So much so that people wondered, where is Lena Cardwell? The answer? She moved back to Detroit where she was, “living, raising two great Danes, being normal and being Jennifer Hazel (birth name).”
Fast forward several years. During the height of the COVID pandemic, Cardwell was quarantined at home, when she received a phone call from a friend who asked if Cardwell would write a children’s book for her daughter. This one phone call ignited an artistic tsunami-like awakening. Since that phone call, Cardwell has written twenty-two children’s books, four teen series and one adult novel. As we said, an artistic tsunami.
“I used to write and read a lot. I have tons of journals that I filled up and if I wasn’t writing my nose was usually buried in a book. I wrote my first novel around eighteen years old. My mom’s computer caught a virus, I lost the entire book, and I swore never to write again. But when my friend asked me, I started writing again. It stirred something inside of me and I couldn’t stop. I have experienced zero writer’s block. It keeps coming so I just keep going. When I get an idea, I become so energized and obsessed. It makes me happy, anything creatively, I’m all over it. My inspiration can come from anywhere. I am also surrounded by nieces, nephews, little cousins, and family who are a never-ending source of ideas.”
Cardwell is always working on several projects at one time that are in various stages; writing outlines, drawing, and painting illustrations and developing and drafting stories. She is constructing a body of work for all audiences to enjoy. “Although most of my books right now are children’s books, I am writing books for different genres. I have so many ideas and I want to get them all put to paper. When I am writing, I am also thinking, could this book be a film? Could it be a television show? I have a few friends in the business who ask me to audition for various projects. I haven’t as of yet, but I haven’t totally closed the door on acting. So, we will see, for now I am all about this writing bug I caught! I love it!”
(Article by Kenyan Smith)