For the second installment of the Rebel Beauty Project, I am excited to share my photography collaborations with the talented actress, singer, and writer Courtney Cook. I met Courtney through a friend, and, instantly, I wanted to shoot her.
Cook’s charm is part sharp intelligence, a dash of girlish toughness, easy humor, and a good amount of earned confidence, qualities that speak to her life experience. After our first headshot shoot, I knew Cook was the perfect model for Debbie Harry, one of the women I pay tribute to in my female icons series.
A lifelong singer, Cook has lived and performed in New York and Los Angeles, but set aside singing to focus on acting, a move that netted her roles on shows that include “Parks & Recreation,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”
Pulled by the need to sing again, Cook recently performed her first solo show in LA. As a writer, Cook has not only written an award-winning romantic comedy, but also writes a food blog.
Pursuing a creative passion in the entertainment industry is not for the weak-kneed. What draws you to singing and acting? Does it drill down to simply a career choice, or does the drive come from somewhere deeper?
The drive most definitely comes from somewhere deeper! I’ve tried doing other things, and I always come back to singing and acting. I think it’s programmed in my DNA! Performing feeds my soul, and it’s something I have to do no matter what.
With acting, how do you deal with the vulnerability of putting a piece of yourself into a character? Is there a cathartic moment that somehow makes it worth it?
There’s always part of me in the characters I play. I think playing a role gives you permission to be vulnerable; whereas, sometimes in life, we don’t always feel we have permission, and it doesn’t feel safe. It’s fun to let go in a role because it also feels like you’re working through something for yourself.
Shifting artistic focus can bring up a ton of things—fear, liberation, joy. Tell me about your recent choice to shift a chunk of your focus and energy into singing. What tough and/or good pieces have come up for you and how do you feel those are motivating you?
I quit singing for almost 10 years, and fear was one of the reasons. I was a perfectionist, always singing to get something: an agent, a job, a role, etc. I was fearful that I wouldn’t be perfect and get what I wanted from it. It got to where it wasn’t fun for me anymore.
When I started singing again last year, it filled me with such joy! I’m now singing for me and not for an end result, and it’s completely changed things for me! Perfectionism still rears its ugly head sometimes, but I’m trying to not let it take control. I force myself to sing in situations that take me outside of my comfort zone and it’s exhilarating! Usually. Ha!
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Find her food blog at www.happybellywholeheart.com