Amanda Jane Cooper didn’t always know she wanted to be an actor. But when she discovered her love for the stage, she never looked back. The Valley Forge native graduated from Great Valley High School and Carnegie Mellon University, and she’s since had a pretty amazing career, with roles in the films Smart People and Homecoming and appearances on Glee, Bones, CSI, Masters of Sex and Hello Ladies. In 2011, Cooper played Glinda in the national tour of Wicked, which she took up again in 2016. Last July, she made her Broadway debut as Glinda.
MLT: What’s your favorite part about playing Glinda?
AJC: I’m honored to empower a story and play a character that’s meaningful to so many people. It has universal, deep themes and truths about humanity. The role is powerful because it’s about what it means to do what’s right versus what’s popular. My favorite part is that I get to perform so much of her, because she has a huge transformation. As an actor, I can explore so many parts of myself and bring pieces of my heart and soul to the role every night.
MLT: What’s it like to reprise the role?
AJC: It’s been fascinating and such a gift because, over the past six years, I’ve experienced different things as Amanda. I’ve gone through a transformation of my life in self-awareness and spiritual growth and heartbreak. I’ve gotten to grow with Glinda, and Glinda has gotten to grow with me.
MLT: Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?
AJC: I didn’t. I was shy growing up. I was given the opportunity to be in a fifth-grade musical at Charlestown Elementary School. [My teacher] helped me come out of my shell. I knew I loved it and felt alive, but the process of becoming a professional actor—I didn’t think about that until I was 15. My heart has always been on the stage—and, to this day, it still makes my heart beat so fast. There’s nothing like a live experience.
MLT: When you aren’t performing, what do you do for fun?
AJC: When I get the opportunity to go, [you’ll] find me in church. I love spending time exploring New York City. I love yoga, walks, reading, spending time with friends. I love going to other shows, too. When you’re doing a role like this, you have to be aware of your activities outside the show, so
you have enough energy to give 100 percent.