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08/25/2009 - By Gayle Davis
Photography By McKay Imaging
Wonder Kid Cooper Corrao
Poised, attentive, and so gosh darn adorablethose are the best words to describe 8-year-old Cooper Corrao. His star is on the rise as his modeling, acting, and voice over credits are beginning to stack up, but he remains grounded and humble, remaining a normal third grader whose love of soccer, summer camp, and school remain at the top of his listalongside his budding acting career.
Lately, the long-haired lad has lent his voice to Ollie, The Bunny on Nick Jr.s Wonder Pets; you may recall that oh-so endearing face from several Chuck E. Cheeses commercials, or maybe you caught an episode of the Independent Film Channels Z-Rock, where Cooper has made a few appearances. But his biggest job thus far, according to his mom, Marisa, was when Coop landed the Exxon commercial that starred pro-golfer Phil Mickelson that aired during the 2009 Masters Tournament.
With no formal training, Cooper treats each audition as a job and is always himself. He often goes up against kids who have performed on Broadway, but he never gives up. Cooper says if he ever hits the big time he will make sure to pay tribute to his first grade teacher, Mrs. Kramer, at Marlboro Elementary. Mom adds, She has always been so supportive and [saw] what we see; she told Cooper to never stop because he has something special, and that he is going to be big! She promises that when he is on stage accepting his Oscar, she will undoubtedly be in the audience in a black slimming dressand he is going to wave to her! Cooper added that he couldnt wait to thank her for all of her support!
Living In Marlboro had the opportunity to sit down over the summer at home with Cooper and his parents, Marisa and Anthony, along with older brother Blake and sister Skylar, to find out about all their experiences, goals, dreams, and what its like to be a kid in the world of acting.
LIM: You are only 8 years old and have already accomplished quite a lot! Tell us how your modeling and acting career took off.
CC: We were at the mall, and there was a sign up at a store, so we signed up and I was just lucky. I got chosen.
LIM: Mom, do you want to jump in and elaborate?
MC: Wilhelmina held an open call at the Childrens Place in the Woodbridge Mall. They were signing 25 kids for modeling contracts, so we said we would try it. We stood in line and waited, and then we got a call about 2 weeks later and they were giving him a modeling contract.
LIM: Wow! Thats exciting. Are you still signed with that agency?
CC: No, because we were only doing print and I wanted to do commercials, movies, and television shows
MC: We were little fish in the big seanot really doing much.
LIM: Which print ads did Cooper do while he was signed with Wilhelmina?
MC: We did a shoot for a parent magazine and a crochet magazine, and he was a fit model for UniGlow, which is no longer in business. He did those jobs during a 2-year contract.
LIM: So next you secured an agent or manager?
MC: Yes. Tamara Markowitz is our manager (from TM Talent here in Marlboro). She happened to be someone that we knew. My daughter Skylar is friends with her daughter. We met her and she looked at Cooper, then spoke to him, and looked at us and said, I think this would be good for you. As soon as we connected with her, within a few weeks he was on The Maury Povich Show.
LIM: What did you do on the show Cooper?
CC: It was about obese kids and regular size kids. I was the regular size kid. They paired me up with a kid that looked like he would be the obese version of me. They asked us a few questions and I was the obese kids inspiration. If he lost weight, he could look more like me.
LIM: You are here with your parents. Mom, dadhow do you feel about your son acting and modeling at such a young age?
MC: I think its cool. I like it a lot.
AC: I love it!
MC: Everybody knows him; hes just a likeable kid. I mean, people know us because of himeven before he was in this business. Hes just the type of person who walks into a room and you remember him. I just thought that this would be a great opportunity to show his personality and to see if it was just us thinking this, or maybe the world feels the same way.
AC: My wife does all the work. I dont really do a lot with it, so for me
I love going into work and saying, Hey guys! Turn on the TV and watch this. Its my son. I just think its really cool. Like Marisa said, his personality is just perfect for it. But she is in the thick of it, although Ill give him a ride here and there when he has to go to the city!
LIM: So when you switched gears away from modeling to acting did you need to get new headshots?
MC: Yes, but most of the time when we go in for an audition they take his picture, so we are sitting with stacks of headshots. Thats the new system; they just digitally take their pictures right then and there.
LIM: How does Cooper manage his schoolwork when hes working?
MC: Sometimes he does it in the car.We usually try to go in during the latter part of the day, when he has specials such as gym or art or something like that.
LIM: But how can you control the time of the audition?
MC: So far its just worked out that way. Now that Im saying that it will probably change! But he does sometimes miss school. If he has a shoot, we will get the work from the teacher in advance and there is a tutor on the set. I think you have to be a good student to do it this way. If your schoolwork isnt up to date before you go, you are kind of going to get lost.
LIM: How often do you get called for auditions?
CC: I am getting a few jobs lately, but I think I am going to get more soon.
LIM: What job did you most recently worked on?
CC: Oh, I did Sesame Street. There were kids in the background and we were supposed to help one of the characters that were crossing the road. We had to help him sing theABCs and count numbers 140. It was a voice over.
LIM: Have you ever turned any audition down?
MC: Sometimes they film far away, like in Canada. If it were during testing we wouldnt have gone.
LIM: So what is your priority? It must be challenging to find a balance between work and school.
MC: I think he likes the commercials better than the long-term commitments. Hes in and out; its quick. He makes friends and has a good time. He goes home and hes a regular kid. Sometimes, like when he does theWonder Pets, we have to practice a lot. The scripts can be 2530 pages. He has to go to the voice teacher to learn the songs. Usually we receive the scripts about 2 or 3 weeks before, so he has to practice; sometimes he has to come inside from playing to practice [and] that hes not too thrilled about, but it all comes together and he does a great job!
LIM: So you mentioned we are with the little man who lends his voice to Nick Jr.s Wonder Pets. Which character do you voice?
CC: Ollie, the Bunny! He tries to be a Wonder Pet, but he doesnt fit in. He always makes mistakes.
MC: Coincidentally, our dogs name is Ollie too!
LIM: How many times have you done the voiceover for Ollie?
CC: Four times!
LIM: Is this a recurring role that they call you back for?
CC: Yes. Ollie just visits from time to time.
MC: Maybe Ollie will stay. That would be good.
LIM: So you have no idea if and when they will call?
MC: Well, it was a contract and he fulfilled it, so hopefully they will pick it up again. But it takes so long for them to make just one episode, so I think they are a few years ahead of it actually airing. He did one last June and it just came out.
LIM: Oh wow!
MC: He still has three more that need to be aired.
LIM: Can you tell us what the cartoon is about?
CC: The Wonder Pets help animals who are in danger. Ollie is the first animal that they saved.
LIM: Do you do this acting thing full time?
LIM: Do you want this to be your career?
CC: No. I want to be a professional soccer player!
LIM: Really? So, this it just something to pass the time
LIM: Youve also appeared in the Independent Film Channels Z-Rock. Tell me about that show.
CC: Well, its more of a show for parents. Its about a band with three members who sing at birthday parties, but they really want to be a rock band. I play the son of one of the girls who the singer likes. MC: So he had to go to a lot of birthday parties. I think he was in three episodes.
LIM: In this show youve acted alongside actors and actresses that are much older than you. How did they treat you, since you are so young?
CC: Yeah, it was great. I made a lot of new friends on the set.
MC: Sometimes he comes out, like when he worked on the Wonder Pets the gentleman that he worked for (his name is Ed Lewis) and Cooper would call him his friend. I would say, Who is Ed? He would say, Ed is my friend. So this man would walk out and thats his friend. They treat him so wellCan I get you something? Can I do anything for you?
LIM: Which television commercials have you appeared in?
CC: Chuck E. Cheeses! Two of them have been birthday parties where I was the birthday boy, and [in] one of them I was a guest at the party. One of them is on the air now.
MC: Hes done three main character ones and a few others where he was in the backgroundand then he did an Exxon commercial. It was with Phil Mickelson during the GolfMasters, and they were kids of the future. Cooper was shown saying, Cooperfuture engineer.
LIM: Any others?
MC: He was in a Laurie Berkner childrens video.
CC: I really liked doing that. It was so much fun! I was dressed up in a squirrel costume, and she was teaching babies their ABCs, 1, 2, 3s, and animals. It was just a lot of fun.
MC: At first he wasnt too happy when they asked him at the audition if he would wear a big costume.We actually said no.When we got there it wasnt a big costume, but it had a giant tail. At first he had a really sad face, but then he got over it. It was so cute!
CC: Yeah, I got over it!
MC: Thenit wasnt a commercial, but he won the contest for Dennys Childrenswear. I had submitted his picture last year, and he won and was in the Dennys ad.
CC: Oh yeah. And I was on a Dennys coupon!
MC: (Laughs)We are promoting Marlboro stores!
LIM: Which has been your favorite job so far and why?
CC: The Wonder Pets because its so much fun to watch my character and hear my voice on TV. Its just great.
LIM: So it makes you feel goodproud of what youve done?
CC: Yes, very.
LIM: Do any of your friends recognize you in the commercials that youve done?
LIM: What do they say?
CC: They say, Thats so cool! I know a friend who is in the Chuck E. Cheeses commercial!
LIM: And what do you say?
CC: I just laugh and say, Yep, thats me!
MC: We just laugh. (To Cooper) It doesnt matter; youre just a regular kid.
LIM: Are you finding that the more jobs you land, the more auditions filter through?
MC: For us it hasnt really worked that way; we havent had any that have linked together. Sometimes they say that if you do something it might link to something else, but nothing just yet.
CC: Oh yeah. I did the voice for Neosporin!
MC: I think it was radio. And he did two more voiceovers for Sesame Street.
LIM: The acting and modeling business is not as glamorous as it may seem. The hours can be long and sometimes you have to be able to handle not getting the part or job. How do you deal with this?
MC: He doesnt really care about the rejection; its more me, the mother, eyeing everyone up and down when we walk in to the room. You know, I think, Is my kid gonna get it, or is someone else? You know, sometimes we see the same kids over and over again, so weve made friendsits been fun! The rejection doesnt bother him. We treat every audition as a job, whether he gets it or not. Its just driving into the city, coming home in traffic, coming home to homework, but
CC: Its fine.
MC: Yeah, its fine.
LIM: Are you nervous when you go on auditions or do you keep it cool?
CC: Sometimes. For big auditions Im nervous, but for little ones Im fine.
LIM: How do you know which ones are big and which ones are small?
CC: Like for commercials or shows or movies, I would be a little nervous, but if its just for a voice over I wouldnt be nervous because I can just do it over if I make a mistake.
MC: [To Cooper] I never knew that you
LIM: Do you get butterflies in your stomach, and does your heart beat a little fast?
CC: Nojust the butterflies.
LIM: How many brothers and sisters do you have, Cooper?
CC: I have one sister named Skylar and a brother named Blake.
LIM: How old are they?
CC: My sister is 13 andmy brother is 16.
LIM: So, is it hard for your other children since Cooper gets somuch extra attention?
MC: Well, they are olderespecially Blake. I think he thinks its cool, you know. She (Skylar)I dont know.
LIM: But really, is there any guilt?
MC: Oh, yeah.Alot of times I have to ask someone to give the other two [kids] rides to soccer practice when Im in the city, so you have to call on favors for that. But they are older, so its kind of easier.And thats why I am glad its my youngest childbecause if I had to drag them with me it would be crazy!
AC: Itsmostly Skylar, because she plays travel soccer and shes in show choir. She does a bunch of things at school, so its tough when Cooper has all of these auditions.We have to scramble around and find rides for the others.
MC: And I feel a little guilty leaving them.
LIM: Are your brothers and sisters supportive of you?
CC: Well, my sisterwe fight a lot.
LIM: Come on! She has to be proud when theWonder Pets comes on and she hears your voice.
CC: Yes, she is! Blake is very supportive.
MC: He, in fact, said someone in his class in high school, said, Oh yeah. Blakes brother is in the Chuck E. Cheeses commercial. He doesnt brag about him; he was like, Oh my god! I didnt think people knew.
LIM: What did you see in Cooper thatmade you say hes something special, besides his adorable looks?
AC: I think hes just a great kid!
MC: Hes really nice. He gets along with everyonehes friendly, hes a really a good friendhe plays with anyone. It doesnt matter who. I just think that he accepts everyone. You know, hes got a big heart. He feels bad for people, has compassion for people and I think that in the business itself, just being able to go in and talk to an adult makes him a better person for the job. He can talk to anyone who is in the room, so if he doesnt get to superstardom, I think what he will take away from this experience is self-confidence.
LIM: How far do you plan on taking it?
MC: As far as it will take him!
CC: I want to do it till Im12 or 13 and
MC: And then what? Be a super soccer star [laughs]?
CC: Yeah [laughs]!
LIM: So, Cooper, you have a love for soccer. Tell us about that.
CC: Well, Im on the travel soccer team, and I just tried out and made the A team.
CC: Thanks! We had our first practice [yesterday]. It was really fun. I play goalie, but Im good at everything.
LIM: How many years have you been playing?
CC: Two on travel, but three in recso 5 years.
LIM: So you love it, huh?
CC: Oh yeah, I really do.
LIM: Do you love soccer more than acting, or do you like them pretty much the same?
CC: I love soccer more than acting [laughs]!
MC: So the ideal job would be a soccer commercial!
LIM: If you had the choice to be a professional soccer star or movie star, which would you rather be?
CC: A soccer star!!!
LIM: So what happens if you get the call to move to Hollywood?
CC: I would do it!
LIM: What about you, mom?
MC: I dont know. Maybe.
LIM: It would be life changing for the whole family!
MC: Thats why its a be careful what you wish for kind of job, even when its a job that you might have to take off on an airplane for and go someplace. Being that my kids are oldersometimes its good, but I guess well have to cross that bridge when it comes!
LIM: That would be exciting, right?
LIM: When you arent acting, besides soccer, what else do you like to do?
CC: I like to play basketball with my friends and I like to watch TV.
LIM: What is your favorite television show?
CC: Probably Pokemon.
LIM: Which school do you go to?
CC: I go to Marlboro Elementary School.
LIM: And what is your favorite subject?
LIM: Why do you like science?
CC: Because I like to do experiments and learn about technology and the world; its just cool.
LIM: Are your teachers supportive of you when you sometimes have to leave class to go on auditions?
MC: So far.
LIM: What grade are you starting this year?
CC: I am starting third grade.
LIM: Where were you born?
CC: I was born in Freehold, at CentraState Medical Center.
LIM: So youve lived here in Marlboro your whole life!
LIM: Do you have any advice youd like to share with other budding young actors and models in Marlboro?
CC: Yes. Youve got to just try your hardest! You should never give upjust keep on trying until you get it!
Federicis in Freehold
StarWars (the third one)
Favorite Musical Group:
Black Eyed Peas
when kids in school call out without raising their hand
Three People Youd Would Like To Have Dinner With:
David Beckham, Babe Ruth, and Adam Sandler
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