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WINSTON-SALEM WOMAN TO PLAY LEWINSKY
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WINSTON-SALEM WOMAN TO PLAY LEWINSKY

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Life has been one big blur since Kathryn Jenkins-Smith became linked with Monica.

Since the announcement that she would play Monica Lewinsky in the TV movie ``The Washington Intern,' Jenkins-Smith has been thrown into pop culture's glaring spotlight.Last week, the Winston-Salem mother appeared on ``Entertainment Tonight,' ``Access Hollywood' and ``Extra!' This week, she'll appear on ``Inside Edition.' In between she fields messages on her answering machine from such magazines as Splash in England. They want to chat.

Her once quiet life is no more. Dirty dishes pile up in her sink because she has no time to clean. She and her husband eat out every night because she has no time to cook. She keeps her dog, Cosmo, at a friend's house because she has no time to take care of it.

``I don't even have time to go by the grocery store to get toilet paper,' Jenkins-Smith says.

Next March, she'll begin filming the mystery-comedy in Washington. She doesn't know how the story will evolve. The intern in the movie won't be named Lewinsky, the young woman who says she had an affair with President Clinton. But Jenkins-Smith looks so much like her she's often stopped by passersby. It happened in Philadelphia recently where she was visiting relatives.

``This girl turned to me and said, 'You know, you look like Monica, and did you see that they got this girl to play her? In a TV movie?' ' Jenkins-Smith says.

This is new to Jenkins-Smith, a mother of a 3-year-old.

Jenkins-Smith, who grew up in Raleigh, first stepped onstage in kindergarten; she played a pig in ``Three Little Pigs.' She later played roles in such high school plays as ``Cabaret.'

But she abandoned her childhood dream. It was too much of a risk, she thought. She chose broadcasting. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in communications and began working as an assignment editor before getting married and moving to Winston-Salem.

In Winston-Salem she dressed mannequins in department stores and taught art in several Stokes County elementary schools.

When Stokes County officials laid her off, a friend hired her to help make industrial films for Sara Lee. Then, as she watched the actors perform, she thought to herself, ``I can do this. I want to do this.'

She took acting classes at a Kernersville studio. She got involved in Winston-Salem's community theater and with the N.C. School of the Arts. She landed roles in three commercials - she was an English chef for Dixie Crystals - and played a pregnant woman in ``Patron Saint of Liars,' a TV movie filmed last year in Winston-Salem.

Less than a year ago, she mailed Delaware Films her head shot and a 3-minute videotape. The company got her roles as a prostitute, a lawyer and a jilted lover. Jenkins-Smith hoped to get a part in a Western, maybe as a character actor. Director Clyde Ware figured her for someone else.

``I got the call about two weeks ago, I think - forgive me, my days are blurring together - but he asked if I wanted to get involved in the project,' she says. ``Of course I said yes. But I really thought it would never come to pass. I thought, 'Yeah, right. Me.' ' First the Hollywood Reporter, an influential trade publication in Los Angeles, called. Then the media avalanche started. Now, her sister-in-law quips, ``What's going on, Monica?' while her parents say, ``Honey, it's just a role. This is great.'

Her husband, Thomas, a sales engineer, is excited. Her son, Chandler, is confused. Jenkins-Smith is just trying to keep up with it all.

``I'm just overwhelmed by a it all,' she says. ``It's too surreal to be real.'

Now, do you own a blue dress?

``Do I have a blue dress?' she repeats with a laugh. ``No. But I do have a lot of black dresses.'

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