Jana studied at the University of Wisconsin. She was very interested in drama, music and photography.
Later she had a successful career on Broadway, and was nominated for a 1986 Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the role Helena Landless in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and won a 1986 Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
In 1986, she married musician and composer Tom Wilson, but their marriage did not last very long.
In the late 1980s, she decided to become a photojournalist. Jana worked for several photo agencies including SIPA press. Her work was published in Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern (magazine) and many other newspapers and magazines.
She covered news stories in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Angola, the Soviet pullout from Afghanistan. She was in Baghdad during the Gulf war, and photographed the fall of the Berlin wall, and the break-up of the Soviet Union.
In 1992, as she was covering the Siege of Sarajevo, Jana was badly wounded when a tank shell fired from Serb positions exploded next to her. Her friend, a journalist from Slovenia Ivo Štandeker, was killed. Jana spent many weeks in the hospital, first with the UN and later in Belgrade where the doctors managed to save her leg from being amputated.
- Jana Schneider theater credits
- A former Broadway actress turned war photographer--and a life unhinged - story by Kit R. Roane in US News & World Report
- Witness to War - story by Bill Hewitt in People magazine