IN CONVERSATION WITH IMOGEN COHEN

Imogen Cohen stars in the new series ‘The Fairly OddParents: Fairly Odder’, a sequel to the original animated series ‘The Fairly OddParents’. The series is currently airing on Nickelodeon. 

Imogen, how has it been part of ‘The Fairly OddParents: Fairly Odder’, that is a sequel to an animated series? Have you watched the original animated series before you were cast on this sequel?

I had such a great experience doing the show. We had so much fun, we all became close friends right away. There was a feeling of safety and creativity in the air. The producers and directors encouraged me to make bold and fun choices. It didn’t feel like work at all. I didn’t know the animated series before I was cast. But once I started auditioning, I began watching it. I got the bizarre humor and the general weirdness of it and tried to play on that when building Zina and shooting the show.

In the series you play Zina, a confident, stylish, quirky girl, who marches to the beat of her own drum, but loves to stand out in most situations. She can be a tad bit scatterbrained, but is pretty bold. Would you say that Zina reflects your own personality in a way?

I do have a few things in common with Zina. We’re both kind of chameleons. She transforms herself into a bunch of different characters in the show, much like I do when I’m acting.  She has a striking fashion sense and I like to think that I do too. To be honest, a lot of my fashion choices nowadays were inspired by our wonderful costume designer, Kris Dangl. On the other hand, Zina is way more obsessive than I am. Zina’s crush on Roy gets a little out of hand. I don’t see myself going out and sniffing some guy, like Zina does.

Next year, we’ll be seeing you in Disney+ much anticipated movie ‘The Naughty Nine’, which is kind of considered a holiday heist movie. Tell us a bit more about what ‘The Naughty Nine’ will be about, without too many spoilers.

‘The Naughty Nine’ features a bunch of kids on Santa’s naughty list, who didn’t get any presents from Santa on Christmas. They charge up to the North Pole to get the presents they think they deserve. Each of the kids has some special talent and together they make up a pretty fun team. I play Ha-Yoon, the getaway driver. She’s a wild adrenaline junkie who’s always up for adventure.

You’re still very young, but your friends and family consider you an ‘old soul’. Why is that? Do you consider yourself as an old soul as well?

Yes, I have been told in the past that I am an old soul. But I wouldn’t really consider myself one. Everything seems new to me. I think I have fresh perspective on the world and how things should be.

You come from a very artistic, theatrical and musically inclined family. Your mom is a very accomplished violinist and musician and your dad is a teacher, who loves and has studied, taught and dabbled in Shakespearean theater. How did you develop passion for acting, with all of the artistic influences that you grew up with?

I am an only child and my parents have given me their undivided attention. They’ve shared their artistic inclinations with me and it felt natural for me to pick up acting, singing and dancing. I grew up going to my mom’s symphony concerts and learning Shakespeare monologues and sonnets from my dad. I saw Romeo and Juliet 6 times when I was 7 years old. It was all normal for me. I am lucky to have such wonderful parents.

Besides acting, you’re also trained in singing and dancing. What would you describe as your biggest goal for the future of your career?

The goal is to go to Broadway someday. There are roles that I am dreaming of taking on in the near future, like Lydia from ‘Beetlejuice’ and Winnie Foster from ‘Tuck Everlasting’, if it ever comes back. When I grow up, I’d love to play Eurydice in ‘Hadestown’ and Kim in ‘Miss Saigon’. Eva Noblezada is my idol. I am loving working with Nick and Disney, but I am eager to tackle some serious dramatic roles soon.

What is the one thing that you love to do the most in your free time?

I love playing with and walking my dog Bernice, who is my pride and joy. I also love playing the Sims 4, roller skating, watching ‘Drag Race’ and ‘Schit’’s Creek’, going to Starbucks, scrolling on Pinterest, reading novels and writing stories.

Imogen, you’re very passionate about skin care, which is kind of surprising for someone at such a young age. Why do you think taking care of your skin is so important, even for young girls?

Taking care of your skin might not be absolutely necessary for kids, but I believe it makes you more confident and teaches you how to love and take care of yourself, which is important for people of all ages. In any case, I find the process very therapeutic and it gives a nice addition to my daily routine.

You are also a huge supporter of LGBTQ community. Why is this cause so dear to you?

I believe people should be free to be whoever they are and free to love whoever they want. I hate bullying and think bullies are deeply insecure and if they are targeting a certain group of people, they are probably projecting their own issues onto others.

Besides ‘The Naughty Nine’, do you already have any other projects lined up for next year?

I will be narrating an excerpt from ‘From the Diary of Anne Frank’ with a symphony orchestra in a concert. ‘From the Diary of Anne Frank’ is a symphonic work set to Anne Frank’s words, composed by Michael Tilson Thomas. This project means so much to me. I am of Jewish heritage and I grew up learning about the Holocaust. Anne’s diary is so important and it’s an honor to be her voice, reading her thoughts.

I’ll also be working on an environmental project campaign video for school kids, but I can’t reveal much about it at this point. 

interview by JANA LETONJA

photography JULIANNE KAYE

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