2015 Best Student Actress Nominee: Zehava Younger as Anne Frank in Boston Children's Theatre's "The Diary of Anne Frank"

Before we announce our 2015 ArtsImpulse Award Winners, we are proud to present our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series.

NOTE: If you were nominated for a 2015 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series, please email us at brian@artsimpulse.com.

Photo Credit: Andi Freedman

Photo Credit: Andi Freedman

Zehava Younger played a pitch-perfect Anne Frank, showing gorgeous growth and excellent empathy for the iconic young woman. Zehava's ability to lead the production in her powerful delivery of her diary entries as well as become part of the Frank family and household in the annex earned her a Best Student Actress nomination. In her Interview, Zehava tells us how she earned the role of Anne Frank, her favorite stories, and what makes her most proud.

Hi, Zehava, and thank you for joining us for our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series. Can you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself?

I am 15 years old, and a sophomore at Beverly High School. I’ve been performing since the age of 7 years old, and I intend to pursue a career in theater through college.

How did you start performing? What were some of your first plays or performances? What did you enjoy most about it?

My mom likes to say I started singing before I learned to talk. I started singing lessons when I was 6 years old, and put on many shows for my family in our living room. My grandparents started taking me to see shows at a very young age (I was probably about 4 or 5). I loved musicals, so my mom took me to an audition for the 2007 production of A Christmas Carol at North Shore Music Theater. I was cast as Want. It was pretty much all downhill from there.

I loved the feeling of getting together with a group of people to create a world all its own, that only exists for a couple hours at a time.

How did you get the role of Anne Frank? What was the audition process? Do you remember how you felt when you heard that you got that role?

I had participated in Boston Children’s Theatre’s summer program in 2014. Here, I learned  about the  upcoming  auditions  for  The  Diary  of Anne Frank.  The audition process consisted of the initial audition, two callbacks, and a one-week wait for the cast list.

I remember coming home from ballet class and running to my computer to see if the cast list had been posted. It took a minute for it all to sink in, but, once it did, there was a lot of screams of excitement, tears of joy, and frantic phone calls to my grandparents and friends. I was also pretty terrified because, besides a couple of Shakespeare plays, I had really only done musical theater.

What did you learn about Anne Frank and the Holocaust while working on this play?  Did you find that you were similar or different than Anne?  What did you relate to the most?

Being Jewish myself, I first learned of the Holocaust at a very young age. My seventh grade Hebrew school class took a field trip to Washington, D.C. to go to the Holocaust Museum. That really opened my eyes to a lot of the events of that time period that I didn’t know about.

Before I started rehearsals, I took time to read the actual diary, and I was awed by her way with words on a page. I also saw many small similarities between the two of us. Our reactions to certain situations are extremely close. I think that made it easier to connect to the character. Understanding how her mind may have worked helped in developing my interpretation.

The Frank Family in The Boston Children's Theatre's  The Diary of Anne Frank  (Photo Credit: Leighanne Evelyn Photography).

The Frank Family in The Boston Children's Theatre's The Diary of Anne Frank (Photo Credit: Leighanne Evelyn Photography).

Who are some of your favorite historical or famous people?  Why?

Some of my favorite historical people include Shakespeare, who I admire how he could move mountains with nothing but a paper and ink.  I also really like the artwork of Van Gogh, Dali, and Picasso. As for other famous people, I'm inspired by Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, Maggie Smith, and Tom Hiddleston.

What are some of your hobbies?  What do you like to do for fun? 

In my free time, I enjoy learning fashion design, horseback-riding, and playing with my cat.

What advice would you give other young actors about performing?  Is there anything that you wish that you had known before performing, in this play or other plays?

I would tell other young performers that if you give as much effort to each production as you would into your Broadway debut, you will be consistently happier with the final product.

What are some of your favorite stories?  Why?

I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan; I've read all seven books at least ten times each.  There's something about the way that they are written that, even though you know the events on the page never happened, they feel real. 

Of what are you most proud?  Why?  

I am most proud of my attempts at balancing my schoolwork during productions for which I've had to miss some school.

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Do you have any other dreams or goals?

In the future, I hope to major in musical theatre and continue performing for as long as I possibly can. 

Do you have any upcoming projects? 

I am currently working on the world premiere of Caps for Sale (The Musical) with the Boston Children's Theatre. It opens in early March 2016.