PHOTOGRAPHY BY GRANT HARDER
Big Break: Jane Levy, 30, made her screen debut in 2011, as bad girl Mandy Milkovich on the gritty Showtime comedy Shameless. “I felt like a little kid whose dreams were coming true,” says Levy, a California native who graduated from the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York. “I remember walking off the set the first day and bursting into tears, because I really, really, really, really, really wanted to be an actress.” Later that year, things got even better when she landed the lead in the ABC sitcom Suburgatory, which earned her a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Most recently, she starred opposite Renée Zellweger in the Netflix neo-noir series What/If. “When I look back at the things I’ve done, I’m like, ‘Wow, good job, young you!’ I sound like an old person now, but time flies.”
Music to Her Ears: Starting this month, Levy stars in the new NBC musical dramedy Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. The title character is a coder who develops the ability to hear people’s thoughts in song. “I think of it as the Olympics for acting,” she says of the series, which costars Skylar Astin, Peter Gallagher, and Lauren Graham. “I’m in almost every scene, and it shoots over six months, 12 to 16 hours a day.” Beyond the demands of tackling choreographed musical numbers professionally for the first time, Levy enjoys the challenge of the show’s tonal shifts. “We embrace the complexities of being human, the ups and the downs, the contradictions and the messiness. Zoey trips over herself—she’s really trying to do a good job, but she keeps failing. That’s the comedy part, and it’s also the drama part. Life is funny and sad.”
With Great Power…: Levy calls herself “too sensitive” to handle having access to strangers’ secrets (not to mention their negative thoughts about her). She does admit, however, that musical mind reading comes with perks: “I guess what the power gives Zoey is the gift of empathy. We’re living in a very tense and anxious time, and the more empathy and compassion we have for others and their experiences, the better time we’re all going to have on planet Earth.”
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs Sundays at 9/8c on NBC.
Hair styling by Rosa Terracciano • Makeup by Dana Hamel • Location: D/6 at The Douglas, an Autograph Collection Hotel, Vancouver, British Columbia