Today Heather is sitting down with a close friend and actress, Stephanie Szostak. Her most notable projects include The Devil Wears Prada, Ironman 3, and A Dinner for Schmucks just to name a few. Over the past decade, she has played alongside Meryl Streep, Robert Downey, Jr, Jeff Bridges, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Matt Damon, Kevin Bacon, Ryan Reynolds, and so many more.
Embracing being an outsider has been part of Stephanie’s life from a very early age moving to America. Growing up, she struggled to keep up with humor, food, and other social aspects that were vastly different than what she was used to back home in France.
If you can be authentic, that is a success.
Rejection is a massive part of Stephanie’s work. Even now having worked with A-list actors, she has to overcome the challenge of failure. It’s easy to allow that failure to seep into crucial self-worth and force questioning of your own capabilities. At one point, Stephanie went over a year without a role, and when she didn’t land a French bartending role, it was a major blow. Eventually, she realized she had to focus on what she could control, and learn and grow, but on her own terms. She broke free of what others thought or wanted of her and became an authentic version of herself. Prepare and let go. That’s how things happen. If you can be authentic, that is a success.
Working with Robert Downey Jr., she says, is like dancing with a good leader–everything is easier.
Stephanie’s role in Iron Man three was the first time a director believed she had it in her to be a villain. The very thought of being the ‘tough guy’ struck fear. But, her husband reminded her that her vulnerability was tough. She went in with an open, curious, and humble mind. To prepare for it, she worked hard to shed her ‘girly’ feeling of her body and give her belief that she could be the character. Working with Robert Downey Jr., she says, is like dancing with a good leader–everything is easier. On top of that, she would dance and rap in her trailer before she worked. Even when facing disappointment as her role grew and was cut back, she learned to celebrate her effort over the outcome.
Even those who seem to be at the pinnacle of their craft face the same challenges.
Every time she comes on to set, Stephanie says, there is some fear. It’s a challenge to have a new start and a new transition. When she was doing a movie with Kevin Bacon, Robert Downey, Jr., and Ryan Reynolds, she found herself alone with Kevin Bacon. After complimenting a difficult role Kevin played, he showed incredible vulnerability in sharing how nervous he was before starting a new movie. Even those who seem to be at the pinnacle of their craft face the same challenges.
Stephanie developed the 180 playbook in the wake of that moment. She went on a search for how to deal with those insecurities. She realized it wasn’t about fear or about performance anxiety, it was also about finding meaning and knowing what she’s about and what she can bring to the table. From there, the challenge became 1) how do you remember all this, and 2) how do you incorporate all these new practices into your mindset. Stephanie started making flashcards before she would go on set, which sparked the idea of developing an app that could bring motivation for the day and set you in the right frame of mind. It could help people in recovery or therapy, and those who are just trying to make a change.
The unexpected thing that she’s found lovely, she says, is the connections and friendships she’s built.
Shifting gears entirely, Stephanie has had numerous love scenes with the likes of Ryan Reynolds and others. For her, she finds it easier as she’s French and having professional partners make a huge difference. It’s about knowing her boundaries. The unexpected thing that she’s found lovely, she says, is the connections and friendships she’s built. On top of that, playing a villain with Robert Downey Jr. was an incredible professional accomplishment.
Learn more about Stephanie and follow her on Social Media: