News Column

Teen of the Week: Broadneck High teen holds dual positions as actress, role model

October 4, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 04--Call Stephanie Kocka a drama queen and she's likely to smile and say, "Thank you!"

The 17-year-old is a senior at Broadneck High School, but has an extensive acting resume stretching back to her early grade school years. Her first singing and dance lessons began at age 5. She was cast in her first onstage role at 6 { .

"I kept telling my mom I wanted to be a movie star when I grew up," she recalled.

"We'd gone to see a musical show at Disney World, 'Beauty and the Beast.' Belle was up onstage dancing, and I wanted to be like her."

She's getting there.

Stephanie has appeared in nine musicals and is in production on two more. Several years ago, she provided the voice of Dora the Explorer in the animated film, "Dora's Explorer Girls." She voiced the role while still in middle school, but Hollywood and animation studios move slowly; it was finally released the summer before her sophomore year.

Since then, she's filmed a pilot for "LIFE-101," a teen-oriented talk show, and has had roles or been an extra in four films, six industrial films and five commercials.

The teen hasn't let her academics slip. Stephanie's taken several AP courses and is enrolled in AP literature this semester.

A pianist, guitarist and composer, too, it's no surprise that she hopes to major in musical theater at one of the several colleges she's currently considering. She may, however, double major by adding a math degree to her repertoire.

She's proud of the fact that she'll be the first female in her father's family to attend college.

"What makes Stephanie so successful is her energy and enthusiasm for life. She seems tireless and I wish I could bottle just a bit of her energy," said her guidance counselor, Tim Smith.

"While thriving in so many music and theater productions in and out of school, Stephanie maintains a strong academic record, and she is poised for success in college."

Two Cappie Awards, the area high school equivalent of Broadway's Tony Awards, are sitting on Stephanie's shelf.

"I earned one for Creativity in a Play for the show 'Dirty Work at the Crossroads,' a melodrama set in Connecticut in the 1890s," she said. Stephanie wrote the score and recruited orchestra members to play during the performance.

For her role in the show as Ida Rhinegold, one of the "evil, manipulative" characters who "was a bit of a harlot who showed her ankle," she won a second Cappie for Supporting Actress in a Play.

Represented by Linda Townsend Management Inc. of Clinton, Stephanie has selected roles or been cast recently that reflect her desire to mentor younger teens. She's excited about "LIFE-101," which would film in downtown Baltimore.

"If it works out, it'll be influential on kids," she said.

In mid-September, she filmed a public service announcement about plagiarism and earlier appeared in one about missing and exploited children.

"I like the workload that comes with filming, performing and production work at school, because I can balance it with my school work," she said.

Coming up in November is Broadneck High's annual Musical Revue. "It's a compilation of music from different musicals showing off Broadneck High's talented kids," explained Stephanie, who is the show's director and one of its performers.

Later in the month, at 7 p.m. Nov. 21 through 23, she is the assistant director of the school adaptation of Moliere's drama, "Scapino!" Stephanie will also portray Zerbinetta, a gypsy.

During the summer months and school breaks, Stephanie is a counselor at drama camps operated by Children's Theatre of Annapolis.

Her boss, Tiffany Shannon, notes: "Stephanie is extremely smart, very hardworking and dedicated to being a success at everything she does."

Shannon added: "I have watched her grow and develop as an actress since she was only 6 years old. She is now my wonderful assistant, who always brings a positive attitude and hilarious sense of humor with her to work. The students adore 'Miss Steph' as she is an excellent leader and role model with a very bright future ahead of her."

When not heading off to one stage or another, Stephanie might be found at the Gloria Dei! Lutheran Church in Arnold. A soprano, she attends weekly rehearsals with the choir, which sings during one Sunday service each month.

"Stephanie Kocka has been a joy to watch grow into the talented young lady she is," said pastor Tom Williamsen. "I have know her all her life. She brings enthusiasm wherever she goes. At Gloria Dei! Stephanie has sung in the choir, helped teach and do music for vacation Bible school."

He said the teen assists each year with the congregation's Winter Relief effort. The church is one of several area churches that take turns sheltering the homeless during the winter months.

She's also been on a mission trip to the church's sister congregation in Slovakia -- where part of Stephanie's family tree has roots.

Stephanie's parents, Chary Izquierdo and Jack Kocka, are both retired federal workers. Her half-brother, Chris Kocka, 41, is a human resource officer for an Ohio insurance firm. Half-sister Sueann Kocka, 44, is a homeschool teacher.

Roby is the family feline.

Ever practical, the money Stephanie has accumulated from her various roles goes straight into a savings account.

"I'm planning to use my earnings to buy a car for college," she said.

___

(c)2013 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)

Visit The Capital (Annapolis, Md.) at www.hometownannapolis.com

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