Actor, writer, and director Michael D. Cohen has crafted a truly unique career path in the entertainment industry.
From studying cell biology in university to honing his comedic chops on Nickelodeon’s “Henry Danger,” Cohen’s journey demonstrates how the worlds of science and creativity can intersect in surprising ways.
A Happy Oddball With Feet in Different Worlds
Cohen describes himself as an analytical thinker with the sensitive heart of a creative. “I have a science head, so I’m highly analytical, but I’m also very sensitive and have the heart of a creative,” he explained.
“It’s hard to lump me into a category. I’m born right on the cusp.” This unique combination of interests and talents allows Cohen to bring a distinctive comedic style and thoughtfulness to his acting roles.
The Transformative Power of Laughter
Cohen traces his passion for comedy and acting back to watching Carol Burnett as a child. Seeing the audience erupt in laughter showed him the power of entertainment.
“I realized the power of laughter and entertainment, and I knew that’s what I was supposed to do,” he recalled. This early epiphany set him on the path to comedy.
Teaching Acting Through Mind, Body, and Spirit
In addition to performing, Cohen is a dedicated acting teacher. His holistic approach considers technical skills alongside deeper personal work.
“I believe that in order for us to do our best work, we need to feel safe to fail,” Cohen explained. “I look at acting in a holistic way – it’s mind, body, and spirit.”
By creating a safe space, Cohen guides students to express themselves freely.
Paving the Way for Trans Representation
As an actor of trans experience, Cohen has navigated challenges within the industry. He transitioned genders decades ago but had to eventually disclose publicly while working on a kids’ show.
The positive reaction from producers surprised him. “I didn’t know how they would react, but it turned out great,” he shared.
Cohen continues to advocate for more trans actors to be considered for diverse roles, not just trans-specific characters.
Comedic Chaos as Schwoz on “Danger Force”
Currently, Cohen plays the manic character Schwoz on the Nickelodeon series “Danger Force.” He relishes the chance to do physical comedy and develop the eccentric accent.
Though the role keeps him laughing, Cohen also directs episodes, requiring careful preparation. “I read through the script multiple times and make a list of questions to get answered,” he described regarding his directing process.
Spreading Opportunity Through Outreach
Beyond his own groundbreaking work, Cohen actively creates opportunities for other trans performers. He partnered with Nickelodeon on a transgender youth acting challenge to connect kids with casting directors.
His upcoming WrOTE program aims to do the same for adult trans writers trying to break into Hollywood. “It’s what I wanted for myself as a kid and couldn’t have, so it’s gratifying to be able to create that for kids now,” Cohen said.
What’s Next for the Pioneering Performer
Looking ahead, Cohen plans to finish writing his book “The Art of Specificity” on acting techniques. He also has two TV series in development as a writer, aiming to increase diverse representation behind the scenes as well.
Though his path has been unpredictable, Cohen continues to bring his distinctive blend of science and artistry to every entertainment project.
Connect with Michael