What's it like making a living playing Wonder Woman?
We tracked down Jennifer Wenger, who has been modeling as the Amazonian princess for more than a decade, to find out.
Meet Jennifer Wenger, a girl from Tennessee turned Amazonian Princess who has been acting and modeling as Wonder Woman in Los Angeles since 2004. She goes out on the street as Wonder Woman, appears in comic book conventions, poses as a reference model for comics, does charity work, bodyguards Stan Lee and has performed in sketches on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
From the Grapevine sat down with Wenger to find out what it's like to work as a superheroine.
Wenger says she was one of the first women to dress up at conventions. (Photo: Screenshot/Youtube)
I heard [Wonder Woman comic writer] Gail Simon saw an early screening and said Wonder Woman was the highlight of the film. Nobody knows Wonder Woman like Simon. If she gives her stamp of approval, I’m probably gonna dig it.
When did you get into Wonder Woman?
When I was about 4 years old, I saw a contact lens commercial with [American actress] Lynda Carter, where she said, "I don’t trust these baby blues to just anyone." And I was just in love with her. I asked my mom who she was, and she said, “That’s Wonder Woman.”
Later on, I made my cheerleading team dress up like the Justice League for Octoberfest, so we did a big performance in front of our college. Cheerleading was sort of anti-nerd, but I went in and was like, “No, no, we’re nerding this cheerleading thing out.”
What was it like to go out on Hollywood Boulevard?
When I went out the first time, I wasn’t paying attention to how much I was making; when people gave me tips, I just stuffed them in my boots. After a while, my feet started to hurt, and I went home. I poured the money out of my boots, and I saw I’d made over $300 in a couple hours. So I was like, “Um, I’m gonna quit my job at Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
And you model for comics too, right?
I remember going years ago to season one of “Game of Thrones.” There was this gorgeous poster of Khaleesi with dragons behind her, and I was like, “That is freaking stunning.” They were these limited edition posters for like $40 each, and I was like, “Ugh, I don’t have the money for that. Who is this artist though? I have to always remember her.” And that was Tess Fowler.
And now Tess Fowler does “Rat Queens” and said online the other day, “Yeah, Hannah is based on Jennifer Wenger, the cosplayer known for doing Wonder Woman,” and I was like, “No. Way.” Because “Rat Queens” is so badass. It’s total female empowerment. These chicks are kind of like antiheroes, and they have really rad personas. So to know that I’m one of the inspirations behind that is just super cool.
"Rat Queens" describes the adventures of four rowdy, foul-mouthed girls. Hannah, who was inspired by Wenger, is an elven mage. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)
What is it like to pose for comics?
The first time it happened, I was just walking around a con, and an artist for Disney chased me down, and he was like, “I’m so sorry, I need to take photos of your face because you have the face that we try to draw … So I let him, and when I posted online, “This is a cool thing that happened to me,” then other artists started messaging me.
Because you have the perfect face.
That’s sweet. That Disney guy said that … He said, “You’re sharp and you’re soft at the same time.” That’s how they want everyone to be drawn: feminine but strong.
Do you run into any challenges as Wonder Woman?
I do standup comedy, and sometimes my material is kind of blue, and sometimes my material is kind of crazy and zany. And people expect, since I’m Wonder Woman, for everything to be perfect. And, you know, it’s just not.
And nobody can be Wonder Woman … Somebody destroyed her family, and she still doesn’t kill. And she has more power than any other female on the planet, and she doesn’t misuse it. Those things … They’re not human capabilities. I’m a human.
What do you love about Woman Woman?
Being a carbon copy of everybody else is boring. And I love that, right now, this is the generation where [being different] is celebrated. And I think that Wonder Woman really is a great example of [looking out for the underdog].
Now, she’s hot. Of course, I was like, “Whoa!” when I saw Lynda Carter, and her boobs were bouncing, and she had a teeny little waist, and big hair, and red lips and piercing blue eyes. I was like, “Wow, that’s a woman.” But once I learned the origin story, that’s when I really fell in love with her. The way that she looks out for the little guy.
Did you ever do anything embarrassing?
There was one time where we were doing Jimmy Kimmel on live television, and they had this ridiculous stunt course they wanted us to do in our superhero outfits; it was like the winter superhero Olympics. I had never skied before in my life, and they had brought in all this fake snow, and the ramp was like a 90-degree ramp.
I got a start, and they’re like, “Just go for it,” so I do, and of course I just bite it. I’m on the ground, and I’m like, “This is impossible, I can’t even get up.” And I hear Steve Harvey going, “Wonder Woman’s hot, she’s thick as hell, she reminds me of my aunt.”
What would your child think of you playing Wonder Woman?
My child would give me high fives for days!
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: