Biography


Helene Simkin Jara is an award-winning author, actor, director and teacher based in Santa Cruz, CA. 

A prolific writer, Helene has authored three books: Because I Had To, True Doll Stories We Remember and, most recently, Turn Left at the Gorilla and Go Down the Hall. Her work has been published in The Porter Gulch Review, La Revista, Mindprints and Nerve Cowboy. In 2003 she was awarded ‘Best Prose’ in the Porter Gulch Review for her short story “Josefina”, once again in 2009 for her play FUBMC, and then again in 2011 for her monologue “Vat Means Rad?” In 2007 her poem “The Difference” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her only regret so far in regards to writing is having given the first book she ever wrote in the third grade to a teacher she was terrified of in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Helene graduated with her BA in Theatre Arts at UCLA in 1969. As an actor, she has performed nationally in New York, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Salinas and Carmel. Recently she has called Santa Cruz, California her theatrical home, collaborating with local companies like Santa Cruz Actor’s Theatre and the 36 North Playwright’s Collective.

In addition to performing, Helene enjoys working behind-the-scenes. She has directed several productions in Santa Cruz, as well as producing plays for a bilingual Spanish/English theatre company called Teatro de Aquellas in 1983,  who once performed in Soledad prison.

Click here for her full theatrical resume.
Click here for her full writing resume.