What is your name? Cara Cooper (full name Caroline, but was only called that when I was in trouble as a kid)
What neighborhood of New York City do you live in? I actually live in Hoboken, NJ, which is a 7-minute ferry ride from Manhattan. It’s the perfect fit for us as a young family, not ready for the burbs, but have a wonderful community and a quick commute.
How many children do you have, and what are their ages? We currently have one daughter, Elin, who will be 3 in July, but we are expecting a little boy in October, so things are about to get crazy up in here.
Has being around the theatre business been a good thing for your child? Being a theater kid is so special. Every time our daughter comes to either of our theaters (my husband is in Book of Mormon), she is surrounded with loving, engaging people who genuinely care about her. I can’t imagine any other workplace, where children are not only welcome to visit, but encouraged. There are so many people with kids at Jersey Boys, you frequently hear the pitter-patter of little feet or young voices coming from the dressing rooms in between shows. They are all a part of our theater family. There is also the added bonus of our schedule. While Elin was young, I was able to spend most of my days with her, getting to nurture her and watch her grow, while working full-time. It was hard not to put her to bed at night for sure, but such a privilege to basically get to be a stay-at-home mom and a working mom all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, it was really, really hard. There were days that I was unsure where the energy to do the show was going to come from, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it and I am so grateful to have had the experience.
What about your career as an actor has prepared you for parenthood? As an actor, you constantly have to learn how to go with the flow. The phone can ring and you have to be on a plane the next day to go to do a show you auditioned for months ago, or the Broadway show you thought was going to be a big hit gets its closing notice. The only constant is change, and I think that is the biggest lesson of parenthood. It’s always a reinvention. Right when you think you have things under control, your child grows and evolves and his/her needs change and everything is chaos again. I also think because of this, theater kids learn to be adaptable as well. Whether it’s doing a last-minute pass-off because Daddy has rehearsal and Mommy has an audition, or even going on tour with one or both of your parents, theater kids learn the art of adaptation pretty early and I think that is a very useful life skill for the future. Creativity plays a huge part as well. When things aren’t working, you gotta think outside the box, which is par for the course in our industry (lessons learned early on, ie: how am I gonna pay my rent when I am constantly auditioning and trying to make it in this biz?).
How has your self-definition expanded since you became a parent? It is my self-definition now. First and foremost, I am a mother. It is my most important role in this world. I am an actor and an artist, too. Being a mother has deepened my understanding of the human condition and also grounded me in a way I never expected, and that in turn, has made me a better actor and artist.