In honor of National Dolphin Day (US), enjoy an interview with Dolphin Tale star Cozi Zuehlsdorff!
Have you seen Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2? How about Disney Channel shows like Mighty Med or Liv and Maddie? If so, Cozi Zuehlsdorff needs no introduction! Get to know how this seventeen-year-old actress and musician shines the light of Christ in the spotlight!
Interviewed by Jessica Lippe
What is your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song to perform is probably Handpainted. I pray before I sing it, and the Holy Spirit always lets me get carried away in the music!
Tell us about Handpainted.
My dear friend Brennley inspired this song. As teenagers, we both can struggle with being overly-critical of our appearance, and I got to thinking about Psalm 139 and the truth that God has carefully and lovingly designed us, and I thought that idea could be translated into a song. Sometimes a song is worth a thousand conversations.
Why did you decide to get involved in performing at such a young age? Do you think acting and singing is your lifetime career, or are there other jobs that you’re also interested in?
My mom encouraged me to audition for the musical Annie when I was eight years old; that’s how I got started. I immediately fell in love with performing. I love acting and singing, and definitely would love to continue doing both for the rest of my life. I also love to write, whether its songs or poems or short stories. It’s fun to have interests that can overlap.
In Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2, you got to do lots of things that many girls only dream about, such as swimming with dolphins and starring in a movie. Was it a dream come true for you, or were there challenges associated with movie making?
Both! The Dolphin Tale movies were some of the most beautiful, magical times of my entire life, and the friends I made in the cast and crew will last a lifetime. It was also very challenging—I learned to actively trust the Lord as I worked 9 1/2 hours a day as a twelve-year-old, and swam for long periods of time in some pretty chilly water. Anyone will tell you, though, that if you love doing something, you’re willing to deal with the challenges.
Who was your favorite animal in the movies? Does your passion for animals transfer to your real life?
I can’t pick a favorite! What if they read this article? Ha-ha! I love them ALL for different reasons. Winter is sweet and gentle, and Hope is crazy and fun-loving. I have a dog named Bandit, and he is the joy of my life.
What keeps you going and motivates you to stay involved in movies, music, and television?
Acting, singing, and writing are all things I’m very passionate about, so it’s not hard to stay motivated. I’d say songwriting is what’s hardest to constantly keep up on, because it takes a lot of creative energy. Often, I’ve found that songs come to you when you’re not looking for them, so I put in long hours of bouncing around ideas at the piano, and it pays off when I finally find the words later that day at the supermarket or something.
How do you represent Christ in your work?
I am very open about my faith over social media, which is how I stay connected with the people who like my songs and tv or film characters. I have also found that simply praying for someone can make a huge imprint on them; often, if I pray for a crew or cast member on a set, it’s the first time they’ve ever been prayed for. It’s amazing that Jesus lets me share His love with them in such a gentle, simple, profound way.
How did you come to understand Christ and put your faith in Him?
I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was six years old. As I’ve grown older, He is knitting me closer and closer to Him through a deeper understanding of His grace. Sometimes, I put pressure on myself to be “perfect” for Jesus—but if I could be perfect, He wouldn’t have had to die on the cross! I’m learning that peace is found in this truth: I am not perfect, and Jesus doesn’t ask me to be. He simply asks me to surrender and let Him hold me, and He will take it from there. I love that.
What do you do outside of the spotlight? Any “typical teen” activities you enjoy?
I love to play piano—I practice daily! I’m homeschooled, and my favorite subjects are writing, history, and psychology. When I’m hanging out with my friends, I love to go see a movie, or just hang around and talk (and if Indian food is involved, I am in heaven). My best friend and I watch our favorite tv show together every week, which I love.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we can look forward to, or goals you’d like to reach?
I just finished shooting as a guest star on Disney Channel’s KC Undercover, and am so excited for it to air. I got to do stunts, which was so fun! I’m also working on a lot of new music, writing both for my own voice and starting to write for others, so that’s been a dream come true. We’ll see where the Lord leads!