When Jole's not on the road, crooning for the masses, she's writing comedic songs for Mini-Popstars, an act that features shorter versions of old familiar faces like Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, and Elvis. Last year, she appeared in Jackass 3-D and she's also been on CSI Las Vegas. She played a leading role in the film Midgets vs. Mascots, a Tribeca Film Festival audience award winner. As Mini-Britney, she even headlined her own tour and starred in a full-length Vegas show called Little Legends.
We spoke with the down-to-earth pop princess about chatting up Elton John, foster dogs, and, of course, impersonation
Crossfade: Do you have any favorite people to work with or places to work here in Miami?
Terra Jole: My first memory was working at Cameo. I remember seeing my name on the big billboard right outside on South Beach. So that was probably my favorite, not necessarily because of the event, but because I just felt like I was so big time when I had my name on the billboard. [Laughs]
You've been Mini-Britney and Mini-Gaga, and I hear you're debuting as Mini-Katy Perry, are you abandoning Gaga?
Never! I'm still doing Gaga full force as well as full force Britney. Katy's just another artist that I'm excited to impersonate.
Not that you pick favorites, but is there one of the artists that you listen to more than the other?
I'm pretty much a Top 40 pop whore. [Laughs] So I listen to all three of them very often, usually with whatever the radio's promoting. And Gaga, I'm probably a little more partial to. But I grew up with Britney Spears, so I think in the long run, I've definitely listened to more Britney Spears than any other artist.
Are you excited then about Katy Perry, too? Is there something that makes her different that you're excited to do? For instance, Gaga's got all these costume changes, and Britney's all sexy.
My big schtick onstage is making it more of a theatrical act rather than an identical impersonation, so I feel like with videos and TV, it's just her energy onstage and just her 1950s pin-up awesomeness, it gives the entire act a different persona and I've also added another group to the Katy Perry, I guess, equation, you might say, it's called the Alienation, they're actually a group based out of New York and a piece of the Alienation will be joining me this coming weekend, so it's pretty exciting. It was inspired by her ET video. I guess you'll have to see it to understand it.
You do all of your singing. Are you a trained singer?
I am. I've been singing since I was five. Been doing it professionally since I was 18 where I actually received a paycheck for it. All through high school I was in music classes and I've taken a few since them. But impersonation is a little different. You kind of have to listen to their tone instead of listening to a music teacher or a vocal coach tone. It's more listening to the artists tone and hopefully adding a little something extra to it to make it your own in a special way. Especially since everybody knows I'm not that artist, I'm clearly, look at me and I'm half their size. [Laughs] But it's an honor to at least be portraying their songs in a way I find fun and exciting and something that is positive to their energy of life.
I saw that you opened for Cindi Lauper, which is amazing. What would be the highlight of your musical career so far?
The first time I was ever onstage with T-Pain definitely was the highlight. I'd never performed in front of so many thousands and thousands and thousands of people, so that was definitely a highlight. Janet Jackson telling me that she enjoyed my performance was definitely a highlight. Elton John, oh, my goodness. Elton John was probably my top three people to meet in the entire world.
This is kind of a funny story. I knew I was going to be performing for his partner, I was doing a birthday event, and I was performing at his birthday. And I thought all night, OK, what are you going to say to Elton when you meet him? What are you going to say? It's got to be something memorable, unique. So, I put it into my think tank and then the next day, I was like, OK, I'm prepared. I was going to tell him, from the song tiny dancer, I was going to tell him, "If you ever need a tiny dancer, I'm you're girl." I thought that was brilliant. It's awesome. He's going to totally love me and we're going to hit it off, break the ice. So, I told him and then he said, "That's lovely." And then he turns to a random stranger and just starts talking to the random stranger, like totally uninterested in me, just totally couldn't care less about what I just said. I was like, "NO! That was supposed to be funny." It was just a highlight just be around him and to have him hear me sing.
You do a lot of volunteer work with Little People of America and with animal rescue. How do you fit that into your schedule, because you must be on the road a lot?
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Well, I'm not on the road, I volunteer every Saturday for Forte Animal Rescue and I'm a full-time foster. So, there's always a hotel for dogs at my house. There's always a dog coming in or going out. Last year, I had 12 and this year we've had four comes to our house thus far. It's really rewarding, I've found it to be an awesome thing.
And with Little People of America, I try to contribute by going to special events that raise money for Little People of America and they give it back to people that need things such as assisted living items and just enlighten the public when it comes to dwarfism, which I find is very important. There aren't a lot of people that are aware of some of the things we deal with everyday, like how we drive and how it is for us in the handicap world. I mean, not everything that is handicap accessible is actually accessible for little people, and we're one in 30,000, so that's a lot of us out there. But usually if you just stick a stool around, 90% of the time, we're good to go!
Terra Jole as part of Back Door Bambi's 15th Anniversary Party. Saturday, June 11. The Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $10 via wantickets.com. Call 305-379-0508 or visit thevagabondmiami.com.