Heroes Among Us: Introducing Zoe Levin

The following interview is part of a class assignment for Entrepreneurship and the Hero Adventure at SMU, Meadows School of the Arts. Each interview has been conducted and created by students for this course, which celebrates those heroes in our communities. Heroism, for the purpose of this course and assignment is described as: 

  • Service of something larger than oneself.
  • A willingness to sacrifice in the name of service.

Author: SMU student Avery Hanson

Girl From Small Suburban Town Turned Steve Carell’s Daughter

By Avery Hansen


Q: What was your passion to start doing what you do/did?

A: I’ve always loved performing ever since I was a little kid.  I was involved with community theatre since I was about 8 years old.  I really started taking it seriously when I began taking classes and doing workshops when I was 13.  I don’t really know how I became so passionate about acting I guess its somewhat of an outlet for me.

Q: What in your life made you decide to start your career?

A: I took on my first “professional” role when I was in 8th grade.  I performed in a show called “The Shallow End” put on by a small theatre company in Chicago. I took the train downtown everyday for rehearsals and performances.  Performing in front of large audiences to entertain them was so rewarding, and I gained a sense of confidence and independence throughout it all.  I knew after that experience that I wanted to keep at it.

Q: How did/do you overcome the idea of your “journey” failing?

A: At the beginning of my journey I was very lucky because I was successful pretty fast.  I landed my first feature film about a month after signing with my agent.  I really thought that it was always going to be that easy- so it was kind of a slap in the face when I didn’t land another movie role right away.  There were many times where I doubted myself and thought I would fail.  I overcame the self-doubt by working harder.  I took a lot of on-camera workshops; I developed my theatre resume, and took any kind of criticism as constructive.   My career would have been over long ago if I hadn’t push myself past the thought of failure.

Q: Did anyone help you and mentor you through the process? If so, who?

A: Yes! So many people have helped me get where I am today.  The most important thing I’ve learned throughout my “journey”, this far, was to use your resources and connections to your advantage! Nobody can get anywhere without some help.  I had an acting teacher who helped me get my first agent through her recommendation.  I had a private acting coach who helped me prepare for my early auditions, and of course, my mom and dad who drove me all over the place.  When it came time for me to make the big move out to LA I sent out a bunch of emails to previous instructors I had taken acting classes from for recommendations and references for an agency in Los Angeles.  I am where I am today because I reached out for help and advice.

Q: Did you have to network and find people who would be able to help you?

A: Like I said before, I used every resource I could think of to help me reach my goals.  It wasn’t so much networking for me as much as it was just reaching out to people I had trained with or worked with before.  Even now I still ask people that I’ve worked with before to help refer me for certain projects, or send in a clip of some of my work

Q: How did you network to make people want to work with you, or want to meet you?

A: I started by taking classes and through that I met instructors that had experience working in the industry.  I worked hard in those classes and tried to show them I was serious about acting.  I then reached out to them when I needed referrals for agencies or work, and they were happy to help out.

Q: Are you still in touch with them?

A: Occasionally I’ll reach out to them and let them know what I’m up to and thank them again but since I moved away I don’t see them or train with them anymore.  I do however keep in touch with directors that I’ve worked with before because they can refer me for new projects.

Q: What obstacles did you ever run into?

A: I run into a lot of rejection.  I’m constantly auditioning for roles that I don’t land and it was really hard for me to develop a thick skin, but you have to have one if you want to be successful in this industry.  I still struggle with sticking with my goals because it’s hard to stick with it when you face a lot of rejection, but I have to keep trying.

Q: Did you ever want to give up? If so, what made you keep going?

A: There have been many moments where I get upset and down about certain roles, but whenever I have self doubt I try to focus on the good and my success so far.  I try to let the good overshadow the bad and I know that if I let the doubt get to me that I won’t ever be successful.

Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who are entering the market (which you are currently in or were in), following university?

A: Stick with your goals and don’t let your self-doubt get the best of you and reach out to people for help!

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