Stephanie Mieko Cohen is an actress and singer based in New York City! She made her Broadway debut as Young Cosette in Les Miserables, a role she also performed on the national tour! Stephanie also enjoys workshopping new works, having performed in the premiere of the musical Solana by Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid! Having struggled with Trichotillomania since the age of twelve, Stephanie started an Instagram account called @Stephcoandherhats highlighting her journey and dedicated to mental health awareness. Read on to learn more about Stephanie and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Stephanie Mieko Cohen
Heritage: Half-Japanese and Jewish. I️ am fourth-generation Japanese-American (‘Yonsei’) on my mother’s side and third-generation Polish-Romanian Jewish on my father’s side.
Hometown: Calabasas, CA
Current City: New York, NY
I️ am so excited to be joining Keen Company’s production of “Adventurephile!” by Kit Yan and Melissa Yi. Although it is technically a theatre piece, it will be recorded in the style of an audioplay or podcast. We will be rehearsing and recording in our own apartments via Zoom, and it will later be edited by the director and sound engineer. 2021 is a whole new world of art! Adventurephile! follows three friends who take a trip to the mythical land of Asa, where things take a humorously dark turn. More info to come!
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
Some of my favorite credits include playing Jeanie in HAIR at Sacramento Music Circus. Playing Jeanie was an absolute dream—she’s funny, she’s sarcastic, she’s passionate. And I️ was surrounded by jaw-dropping talent. Every single person I️ worked with, from the actors to the creatives, was incredible. It’s not every day you get to experience that caliber of professionalism, so I️ don’t take that for granted in the slightest. Another favorite credit of mine would have to be playing Chloe Ellsworth in the premiere musical, Solana. Solana, written by Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid, is about an Asian-American girl, living in the Midwest, who is called back to her original homeland by a mysterious royal procession. (Very Princess Diaries but Asian! Haha) I️ don’t want to reveal the whole plot, but this special musical is still being developed in readings. I️ had the immense honor of premiering it in college at Indiana University at Bloomington, and got the chance to perform it again years later at Tuacahn’s New Works Festival. Workshopping a new musical, especially one where I️ felt so connected to the Asian-American story, is an experience that will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Be kind, work hard, and stay true to who you are. There are many things in this industry that are not in your control and you will want to spend your time worrying about them. Don’t. Focus on what you CAN control. Stay in class and keep learning. Make connections. Be genuine--you don’t need to extend yourself or be fake. I️ truly believe you will be remembered and respected by your talent and ethics alone. You don’t need the extra stuff. Be yourself and let that shine as brightly as possible.
How did you get your start?
I️ always loved to sing. In our home videos, you can find me singing in in almost all of them. But, otherwise, I️ was a painfully shy kid. My Mom decided to put me into voice and dance classes and the rest was history. I️ was pretty timid offstage, but anytime I️ was in the spotlight, I️ lit up. I️ did some community theatre productions starting at age five. My first show was “The King and I️” where I️ played one of the royal children. When I️ turned six, there was an open call for the Broadway production of Les Miserables. I️ auditioned, but they told me I️ was too little and too young. They put me on a list and told me they would call me. Two years later, they actually did! I️ got the call that I️ was going to be playing Young Cosette on Broadway. I️ had just a few weeks to pack and move to New York. I’ll never forget that phone call for the rest of my life. I️ performed in the Broadway company for about nine months and then joined the 3rd National Tour in Los Angeles (my hometown) for three weeks, and then continued to tour around the country for five more months before heading home. I️ fell in love with that show and knew that performing was what I️ wanted to do with my life.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
One of my proudest moments to this day is winning the understudy of Gavroche in the Broadway company of Les Mis. The three girls who played Young Cosette/Young Eponine all had to audition, and I️ got it! I️ was so proud haha. I️ had to get fitted for the costume and do a few rehearsals. I️ thought I️ was so cool to be like one of the boys. When we were in dress rehearsal and we got to Gavroche’s death scene, I️ remember the gun shots were so loud, I️ covered my ears! Everyone started laughing. Not the most convincing death...
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
The biggest challenge, for me personally, is finding structure in a career where there is none. Our whole lives, we a have built-in schedule going to school from kindergarten through college. Then suddenly, you are sent out into the real world and a life in the arts does not have the 9-5 timeline: you have to create it for yourself. Self-motivation can be extremely challenging at times. Finding the balance between staying in the game and taking a break is essential.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I️ am a Libra. I️ love cats! I️ have two family cats in California and I️ just recently adopted a cat here in New York named Teeter! I️ love Mexican food—I️ love really authentic Mexican food, as a Los Angeles native, but I️ also have a major guilty pleasure for Taco Bell hahahahah. Everyone knows this about me. I️ also am a Disney fanatic and die hard Britney Spears fan.
Who do you admire?
I️ admire my younger sister, Marissa. Although she is two years younger than me, she has always acted like the older, more responsible sibling. When we were growing up, she definitely was known as “Stephanie’s sister” and spent a lot of time following in my footsteps and getting out of my shadow. I️ am so proud of the strong, amazing woman she has become and the separate path she has forged for herself as a person and as an artist.
Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?
I️ had the opposite path of most people. I️ knew from a very young age that I️ wanted to be a performer and my life path was pretty much set up for me starting at five years old. Performing is all I️ have ever known and so, naturally, it is what I️ set out to do throughout high school and in college as well. Now, as an adult, I️ have made it a goal to discover my other passions in life besides acting; I️ have kinda had to work backwards. It's so important to know who you are as a person first in order to become a successful actor and happy human being. It has been such a breath of fresh air to do some digging and discover my loves for fashion, writing, drawing, food, event planning, yoga, traveling, and so forth. These passions help you grow and can only help you in your work as a performer. My path may have looked a little different than I️ thought it would, but I am thankful for the discoveries nonetheless.
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between gigs to pay the bills?
I️ have had so many “odd jobs” over the years, that I️ could probably write a book about them! Some of my side jobs have included: a Universal Studios tour guide, a personal assistant, a babysitter, a catering server, a sales associate, a princess party performer, and more! I️ have met so many different types of people, and learned to problem solve in ways I️ never would have experienced onstage or on set.
Do you have any other “special skills?”
I️ am a 200-hour certified Vinyasa Yoga Instructor!
Do you have any side projects you’d like to highlight?
I️ have started an instagram account called @Stephcoandherhats dedicated to mental health awareness, and more specifically, highlighting my struggle with Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is a Body Focused Repetitive Behavior characterized by the strong desire to pull out one’s own hair. I️t can be on any part of the body (ie. eyebrows, eyelashes), but mine is mainly from my head/scalp. I️ have had Trichotillomania since the age of twelve, and while it can be both a shocking and shameful disorder, it is actually much more common than people think. People spend their entire lives hiding their secret and I️ want to show others that sharing, while never required, can provide healing. For my entire story, feel free to check out my instagram (see my social handles at the bottom!) For more information on Trichotillomania, visit www.bfrb.org
If you come from parents who aren’t in the arts, what parts of them do you see in yourself that have helped you succeed in the business?
Although neither of my parents are in the performing arts, they both have extremely outgoing, charismatic personalities. My Mom was a visual arts major in college and is an extremely crafty, artistic person, despite not being a performer. She has always encouraged my creative outlets, to think outside the box, and to never, ever, ever, give up. My Mom is very strong, brave, and persistent and I️ have learned these traits from her to tough it out in an incredibly competitive industry. My Dad was the funniest person in the entire world and would light up any room you would walk in. He was charming, witty, kind, and genuine. He passed away in 2012 and I️ miss him every single day. I️ hope that I️ got even half of his sense of humor and I️ definitely learned my people skills from him. I️ call it “warming the water”—making everyone around you feel the most comfortable.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
I️ would tell my younger self to:
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Speaking up for yourself! This is a skill I️ learned later in my career. While it is important to be courteous, respectful, and flexible as an actor, speaking up for yourself is so important! I️ find people respect you more when you don’t let others cross your boundaries.
Where did you study at?
I️ studied at Indiana University at Bloomington where I️ got my BFA in Musical Theatre.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Living as an actor in New York City for 6.5 years and counting!
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
I️ would really love to write a one woman play. I’ve always thought about writing an autobiography, but I️ could 100% foresee myself performing it as well. I️ also would love to try directing/producing a play. I️ have no experience on the other side of the table, but now could be the time to do some dabbling!
What do you love most about what you do?
I️ love being able to take on a brand new story and voice while finding a little bit of me in there too. I️ love figuring out backstory (where, when, why, and how) that person came to be and discovering all the colors of that character. Performing is hard work, but it is also fun and so rewarding.
What helped you most to rebound from what you considered your biggest failure or mistake in your career?
I️ wouldn’t call it a failure, but one of my biggest mistakes was pushing myself at a time when I️ was burnt out. My body and mind were exhausted, and I️ just kept pushing and pushing. The best thing I️ ever did for myself was take a break from auditioning. Temporarily removing myself from the arena helped me gain clarity. When you aren’t in a good place physically and/or mentally, you aren’t doing yourself any services by being there and exerting yourself. Take the time you need and come back with a bang.
Do you have any self care practices you do to stay focused and sane?
I️ practice both Vinyasa and Bikram yoga. During the pandemic, I️ also learned to incorporate meditation into my practice and it has really helped with my anxiety. As I️ discussed earlier, I️ am a huge advocate for mental health and encourage everyone to go to therapy if they have access to it. I️ go to therapy once a week in addition to a peer-based group for my hair pulling. Rituals and consistency are key for me.
How do you prepare for a role you consider difficult personally, whether it hits too close to home or goes greatly against your personal beliefs?
When a role or situation hits too close to home, I️ personally feel you have to choose a different scenario. That doesn’t mean play it safe, it just means you choose a feeling that is adjacent to that place. If you aim too close to home, you: A) end up putting salt in the wound which can do more damage than good or B) you can’t access that area because it is too personal. I️ think finding space that feels both accessible but vulnerable is a good start. That way you can explore and still feel you haven’t crossed your own boundaries.
To find out more about Stephanie, please visit her at:
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