Spotlight on Mason Cook

MASON COOK Spotlight featured in BELLO issue #178 – December 2018.

ABC’s Speechless season premiered this fall, how has your character evolved since season 1? Did you see your character evolving this way? Where do you see your character going?
Ray has always been an anxious over-thinker and I don’t see that changing. It’s just part of his genetic makeup and place as the middle child in a family with a sibling who is disabled. It would be unrealistic, and nowhere near as funny, to see Ray overcome his tendencies to make everything worse while trying to make things better! I will say that Ray has come a long way in gaining self-esteem in social situations, but that has only made his never-ending quest to find love that much more disastrous!

How is working with the crew on Speechless? Can you tell any behind the scenes stories?

There is never a dull moment on the set of Speechless. I am lucky to work with a group that is super professional but knows how to have fun while working insanely hard. We work long hours, but it doesn’t feel like it. We are a very sarcastic, prank-inspired group. Last year one of our camera operators created an alter-ego for me named “Madison Cook” when he told our new sound mixer that my name was Madison and not Mason. Everyone called me Madison for weeks, the props department changed my cast chair to that name, they changed my parking sign to that name and also created an Instagram account for RealMadisonCook full of terrible outtake pics of me! It was hilarious!

We saw that you posted on your Instagram about #WorldAIDSDay. You’re an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, how did you get involved with this foundation? What is your goal as an ambassador?
For me, it is very important to use my visibility and position as a way to help others. I am a Celebrity Ambassador for two organizations that I am very passionate about – one of which is EGPAF. I first became familiar with the foundation when they invited me to be a celebrity guest at their big annual fundraiser event, A Time for Heroes, after I filmed Spy Kids. There I learned all about the organization and how it started with 3 mothers around a kitchen table in 1998 and has grown to become the leading global non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating pediatric AIDS and HIV.

AIDS was at its most critical point during my dad’s childhood and now, with so many medications and treatments it has become a very livable disease. But, because of this, many people have forgotten about it and don’t realize it still a very real problem – especially in adolescents and children.

EGPAF’s mission is to provide services to help strengthen health systems, help fund research to advance, prevent, treat and end AIDS and also to advocate for global, regional, national and local policies to help in their efforts. In my lifetime alone, the hard work of EGPAF has helped reduce new pediatric HIV infections by 70%! My goal as ambassador is to help in any way I can – raise awareness, raise money, anything to help end AIDS.

How would you describe your everyday look?

Let’s just say Mason’s look is the polar opposite of my character Ray’s look. I am very fashion forward in my style and love to try new looks. Right now, I am all about Off-White by designer Virgil Abloh. His collaborations with everyone from Nike to Converse and his designs for Louis Vuitton are insane and I want it all! I’m not gonna lie here – I do have expensive taste. You are likely to see me cruising around town in my Off-White Jordan’s with clothes by The Kooples or Diesel and my Gucci backpack. Some call it douchey – I call it “fashun” LOL.

Last year the show won a TCA award in Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming, what does this mean to you?
Speechless has received lots of recognition – a Television Academy Honors award, a People’s Choice Award nomination, a Television Critics Association award, and many from organizations celebrating accurate portrayals of people with disabilities in the media, like the Media Access Award and The ARC’s Catalyst Award.

Anyone in this business knows how hard it is to get a show from script to pilot to series to renewal. It is hard! Factor in a story about a family with a disabled family member and that difficulty level dramatically increases. As an actor, I strive to be a part of quality projects, but when that includes being part of a movement to accurately represent a huge percentage of our population that often goes unrecognized it is like winning the lottery. The awards are great, but even better are the faces of the people who come up to me in the airport, at the mall or even Walmart in Salem, Oregon to say how much it means to them to see a family like theirs on TV!

You have been acting from a very young age and are a Daytime Emmy award nominee. How has it been growing up in front of a camera. Describe a dream role you would like to play.
I started acting when I was 8, so I have spent the last 10 years in front of the camera. Honestly for me, it hasn’t seemed anything but normal. I love acting so much it seems weirder to think about my life before I was acting back in Oklahoma. When I was 6 or 7, I had a Pirates of Caribbean themed birthday with Johnny Depp as Captain Sparrow on my cake! Little did I know I would be working with him a few years later in The Lone Ranger.

It still blows my mind that I have worked alongside so many major actors like Johnny, Armie Hammer, Steve Carell, and so many more. Minnie Driver, who plays my mom on Speechless, is an Oscar nominee! You would think that it would be intimidating working next to them after growing up watching their movies, but it really hasn’t been. We all share the same passion for acting and treat each other as equals.

As far as a dream role, that is tough! There are SO many roles I want to play and, now that I am 18, my world has opened up. Comedy is a real focus of mine, but I also love a good dramatic role. I love epic war films, so that is definitely something I hope to do.

Where do you find your biggest inspiration?

Wow so many places! I do like risk-takers, which is probably why I like Johnny Depp so much. I can say the same for Steve Carell. Steve has the kind of career I hope to have – he is a comedic genius and has found so much success in that, but he takes chances on dramatic roles like in Foxcatcher which got him an Oscar nomination. I want to push myself and grow from every role like he has.

Can you tell us something about you that we didn’t know?

I give this answer in all my interviews when asked this question, so you might actually already know it, but it is my favorite thing to share. I am the great-great-great-great grandson of John A. Roebling, who was the engineer and architect of the Brooklyn Bridge and the inventor of the cable used on suspension bridges all over the world, including the Golden Gate in San Francisco. I would love to be in a film about John A. Roebling and the Brooklyn Bridge because that was an epic accomplishment back in 1883 and it is so much a part of my family heritage and history.

Talent
Mason Cook @masoncook

Photographer
Tyler Rowell @itstylerrowell

Publicist
Caroline Head @platformprteam

Styling

Lo VonRumpf @stylelvr
Styling assistant Tanya Nazarian @tanyanazarian

Grooming
Hendra Nasril @makeupbyhendra

About The Author

Stephane Marquet
Creative Director

First of all, excuse my French! … I was born in the South of France. Lived in Paris for 10 years and travelled the world until I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, because obviously recession was a great time to move to a new country! I also arrived around Halloween and was greeted at the Social Security offices by a nurse who directed to the window Number 6 so a witch could hand me my social security number. Welcome to America. I am a painter, a photographer and the creative director of BELLO mag.

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