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Nora Zehetner of the Disney+ Series ‘THE RIGHT STUFF’: “Always be kind to everyone including yourself”

I think diversity in the entertainment industry is very important. For too long, we have been told stories largely from a white male perspective. And that matters. It impacts how people see themselves and others. It’s more than simply hiring actors of various ethnicities or women to fill roles that were originally envisioned differently, it’s […]

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I think diversity in the entertainment industry is very important. For too long, we have been told stories largely from a white male perspective. And that matters. It impacts how people see themselves and others. It’s more than simply hiring actors of various ethnicities or women to fill roles that were originally envisioned differently, it’s important to amplify a larger assortment of voices to tell stories that are meaningful. I want to see more Black, Asian, Native American, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and female creators given the freedom to create projects. I think that’s starting to happen and it’s really wonderful.


As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing American film & TV actress Nora Zehetner, who can currently be seen playing the role of ‘Annie Glenn’ in the Disney+ TV series The Right Stuff.

Nora is well-known to television audiences worldwide from her recurring roles on iconic TV series such as Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, and Everwood. Film Industry pundits and cinema fans alike recognize Nora from her starring role as ‘Laura’ in the award winning indie hit Brick which hascome to be regarded as a cult classic film.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/1c7426ed79e0246280d7391a4087b55e


Thank you so much for doing this with us Nora! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Texas, mostly in Dallas but I spent summers with my grandparents in El Paso. My mom and I also lived with them for a few years when she decided to go back to school and get her nursing degree.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I had so many interests growing up but I always just really, really loved movies. I remember going to the video store (back when there were actually video stores) and how I would spend ages perusing the shelves and seeking out all the small independent movies that I wasn’t familiar with. I wound up going to college when I was 16 but it was entirely a math and science program and I think it just pushed me in the exact opposite direction of what I was meant to be learning. I was traveling to Los Angeles once a month to buy for a local clothing store and I just had the crazy idea of why not just move to LA and try the acting thing……and that’s what I did. At the age of 17 with $3,000 saved from a hostessing job at a restaurant, I moved to Los Angeles. It didn’t go particularly well at first but eventually it worked out.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many people I am grateful for who have helped me along the way, but I will always have a special place in my heart for my college program academic advisor, Dr. Donahue. Let’s just say I wasn’t doing great in school — I never had to apply myself before to get good grades. Then suddenly, I’m 16 years old and taking advanced college courses and there’s no way to get through that without good study habits which I did not have nor was I making an effort to cultivate. So my grades were not great and if you dip below a 3.0 GPA you had to meet with your academic advisor which terrified everyone. I wound up having to meet with Dr. Donahue once a week so we got to know each other quite well, and he was very kind and we developed a friendship. When I told him that I wanted to go to Los Angeles to give acting a try, he encouraged it and he was absolutely the only person at the time to encourage it. He said (something along the lines of), you are finishing your first year of college at the age of 17 and are thus already two years ahead of everyone else. If this is something you want to do, why not go ahead and try it now so you don’t look back with any regrets later. He told me he absolutely believed in me as a student if I were to apply myself but he also thought I could do anything that was in my heart; and if acting was in my heart, he thought I would find great success. (this was 22 years ago so while the sentiment is correct the exact words escape me)

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

I’m still scared of failure and it’s something I struggle with every day. But I think it’s important to do things in spite of how scared you are or else you won’t ever get anywhere exciting. The best roles are the most daunting ones.

What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

Great storytelling. When I see something that moves me I get a surge of energy and excited all over again by what I get to do for a living. I hope to see a return to smaller, more intimate films. I enjoy a big summer blockbuster every once and a while but I hate that we’ve become so oversaturated with them.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am currently appearing as ‘Annie Glenn’ in the series The Right Stuff on Disney+. Here is the link to the series trailer.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

I think diversity in the entertainment industry is very important. For too long, we have been told stories largely from a white male perspective. And that matters. It impacts how people see themselves and others. It’s more than simply hiring actors of various ethnicities or women to fill roles that were originally envisioned differently, it’s important to amplify a larger assortment of voices to tell stories that are meaningful. I want to see more Black, Asian, Native American, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and female creators given the freedom to create projects. I think that’s starting to happen and it’s really wonderful.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”?

1. It’s OK to fail

2. It’s not just OK to be different, it’s your superpower

3. Always be kind to everyone including yourself

4. Change is the only constant in life

5. Live in the present and find small joys instead of just looking towards future successes

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I got into meditating about 4 years ago when I was going through a difficult time. It was something that I never had thought was for me, but it was a life changer. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of breath work (I take guided classes on denanywhere.com) and while it’s always challenging the benefits are tremendous. It really does seem to reset my whole nervous system. I try to workout as often as possible whether it’s barre (I love Marnie Alton on mbodyonline.com — she’s a ball of positivity and she kicks your butt) or just hiking with my dog. Meditation and exercise have really been my saving grace during this weird time in the world.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ve always liked what Maya Angelou said, “I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it.” I have a tendency to dwell on things, particularly things I perceive as negative, and while you can’t escape that they happened it’s important to move on and not to allow it to affect your self-worth.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Kindness and empathy!

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

I’m on Instagram @norazehetner

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