Hometown: New York City
Currently: Making her Broadway debut as The Extraordinary Girl, love interest to slacker-turned-soldier Tunney (Stark Sands) in Green Day’s Tony-nominated rock opera American Idiot.
Big Dreams: Sajous’ musical ambition started early, with the help of an overworked VHS tape. “When I was about three years old, I started watching Little Shop of Horrors, and according to my mom, I watched it over and over for three years straight.” At age eight, Sajous began taking acting classes and eventually enrolled at the famous LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts. She went on to major in theater at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and graduated in just three years. “When I was 16, I gave myself a list of things I wanted to accomplish by 25,” she says, “and one of them was Broadway.” And she made it!
Paying Rent: After college graduation, Sajous spent 10 months on the road in Rent. “It was hard, but I’m so thankful for that experience,” she says now. "In college I was used to auditioning for things and always getting them. I didn’t really know what it was like to understudy roles, and [on tour] I wasn’t just understudying but had to swing five of the six women in the show. I felt like Rent was teaching me a lesson—to just humble myself and learn the business of theater.”
Don’t Wanna Be an American…Idol?: When she returned from the road, Sajous struggled to land auditions, so she begrudgingly decided to audition for a spot on American Idol. “I remember the producers telling me, ‘Christina, you don’t have a story. You’re a theater person. We don’t know how to program you.’ And I thought, ‘Program? What am I, a machine?’ They said, ‘Your voice is too mature. You look more edgy than you sound, so go back in the world and keep auditioning and get your Tony one day.’ I was like, ‘But I want a Grammy too!’” [Laughs.] Looking back, Sajous is happy she didn’t end up facing Simon & Co. “Once you’re an American Idol, that follows you, and I don’t know if that’s something I can carry around. I just want to be Christina Sajous.”
Becoming an Idiot: Sajous joined the Idiot cast as a “head-thrashing, bad-ass” ensemble member during the show’s second workshop. When the original Extraordinary Girl left during the pre-Broadway run at Berkeley Rep, Sajous was called up to re-audition and won the part of a military nurse who emotionally revitalizes Tunney after he witnesses the horrors of war. “It’s a little scary because I have to live up to that name,” Sajous says of her character. “I can’t be ‘The Terrible Girl,’ I have to be ‘Extraordinary.’ If you don’t live up to your name, people start to question your capability, but I know that I’m bringing my heart to it every single night. My mom was in the military for 29 years, so when I play this role I feel very strong.”
Flying High: Not only does Sajous begin Idiot’s opening number suspended in the air upside down, she later performs an aerial ballet with co-star Stark Sands. Luckily, she’s not afraid of heights. “It was easy for me to go into the air,” she says. ‘The hard part was being graceful about it, making sure I’m pointing my toe and that I look like a lady…because I’m very much a tomboy in real life [laughs]. Singing is very difficult while flying. I’ve always been taught when you sing you have to be grounded and in this situation I literally have no ground. I have to use my core a lot, so my abs are really strong right now!”
Grammy Glory: Before American Idiot began previews on Broadway, the cast performed with Green Day live on stage at the Grammy Awards. “I blush about it,” Sajous says. “It’s the Grammys! That’s how I started my 2010! I looked out in the audience and there were thousands of people, but there’s also an audience of millions watching at home. I had to wipe that out of my mind and just perform and not get nervous.” Once the show began, Sajous says, “I almost forgot it was live. The only time I remembered was when I looked at my cell phone [after the performance] and there were text messages galore from my friends and family. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.” So she did make it to the Grammys after all. Take that, American Idol!