V Girls: Nesta Cooper

The ones to watch, ingenues, and names to know now. Meet Hollywood’s next generation of screen queens.

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It was a fateful plotline of the WB’s One Tree Hill that led Nesta Cooper to the teenage epiphany that she wanted to act. Namely, it was the romantic tiffs between Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) that imparted Cooper, who grew up on the otherwise sleepy Vancouver Island, with the acting bug: “I was very dedicated; I remember just sobbing because I was so sad for Brooke,” Cooper says. “It occurred to me, ‘Wow, I’m 14 years old, I’ve never kissed a boy, let alone been in a relationship, but I can feel the pain of this break-up.’ That’s [when I became] fascinated [with the power of] acting to strip [someone] to their emotional core.”

Cooper’s first gig was a two-line part in The Haunting Hour, the Disney Channel’s spooky-lite R.L. Stine adaptation. Four years and an assortment of TV and film roles later, Cooper landed her first leading turn, playing Carly, a tough, military-trained mother in the Netflix series Travelers. “That show was a really huge shift for me professionally and emotionally. It taught me a lot about playing toughness, and not just in a one-note [way]; that a woman can be super strong without being a bitch.” Cooper says. “I realized, ‘Okay Nesta, you don’t have to be angry and mean all the time [to play a resilient woman]. I could add layers to her. That was really eye-opening.”

Cooper plays a twin and Jason Momoa’s daughter in See, Apple’s upcoming epic drama set in the future, written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence. “In a time when there’s so much TV right now battling for viewership—so many different platforms, between streaming, web series, and even people making shows on their Instagram accounts, See still managed to stand out to me,” says Cooper. “I just had never read something like it before.” Her next film role is also streamable sci-fi: Bliss, an Amazon Studios drama co-starring Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson, directed by Mike Cahill, college pal and collaborator of Brit Marling.

After that, Cooper is game for anything that helps develop her acting chops, perhaps beyond her well-trod sci-fi territory, be it a head-turning thriller like Get Out or infectious comedies, which she’s dabbled with in The Edge of Seventeen and Reality High: “I liked doing those because they’re light and fun,” she says. “You’re just really trying to make everyone laugh. There’s [no] pressure to be [an] emotional, brooding artist all the time.”

Nesta wears coat Boss, dress Sies Marjan, Earrings Ammanii
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