September 17, 2019

Sophie Levy: Lights, camera, college

AGE: 17
HIGH SCHOOL: Wildwood School
GOING TO: Barnard College

Sophie Levy remembers practicing religiously — not for her bat mitzvah but for a cameo opposite Hugh Jackman in the 2011 film “Real Steel, ” which was directed by her father, Shawn.

Levy appears in the opening minutes, asking Jackman’s character, a former prizefighter, for an autograph.

“I was so excited about it — I think I was 11 at the time. I think I got to wear a cowboy hat, and I was pretty thrilled with my two lines,” Levy said. “I was so nervous it would get cut, but it made it and I was so happy.”

This wasn’t the last time Levy, 17, a senior at Wildwood School, appeared on the big screen — she appeared in two “Night at the Museum” sequels, also directed by her father (an executive producer of last summer’s Netflix hit “Stranger Things”).

But perhaps more meaningful, Levy has had a starring role elsewhere — at The Righteous Conversations Project, a Los Angeles-based Holocaust remembrance organization that pairs high school students with Holocaust survivors. Participants in the program create public service announcements based on survivors’ stories and focus on other issues like Syrian refugees and neighborhoods lacking access to healthful food.

Levy, who will attend Barnard College this fall, said she appreciated the opportunity of working with survivors.

“These people are all pretty old and late in their lives,” she said. “My generation is the last one to have the privilege of hearing their stories.”

Her lifelong passions include poetry and theater — she has appeared in school productions, including “Grease,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Her poems have addressed survivors’ stories in works called “Cold,” “The Chambers” and “Then & Now.”

“I thought it would be a cool art form to get these stories out there in my own personal way,” said Levy, who draws inspiration from Sylvia Plath and Tina Fey.

Her family belongs to Kehillat Israel, a Reconstructionist synagogue in the Pacific Palisades. She attended Hebrew school and became a bat mitzvah there.

Levy has three younger sisters, Tess, Charlie and Coco, ages 15, 10 and 6. The family is so close that it might follow Levy after she moves from Los Angeles to New York, she said.

“We are so incredibly close, we sweetly all agreed if one of us is gone, everybody else has to follow.”

Still, Levy said she hopes she gets a little time to settle in before anything like that happens, if it ever does.

“I know it’s super important to have my own independence and make my own mark there without them as a backboard,” she said. “And at the same time, it would definitely be nothing to complain about.”

Levy plans to study literature at Barnard, her mother Serena’s alma mater.

She credited her family, which she described as a “strong, passionate, loud Jewish family,” for instilling in her an appreciation for her heritage.

“I have grown up in a family that is not necessarily super religious but has always emphasized celebrating Jewish holidays and recognizing why it is such a special group to belong to,” she said. “We are always supposed to remember where we come from, how fortunate we are to be here, and from a young age, my parents told my sisters and I about the Holocaust and why it is a monumental event in our history, and why as Jews it is our job to spread stories of survivors to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I always felt this tremendous responsibility.”