Actress Stephanie Czajkowski may not be a household name but you've probably seen her in your living room without even realizing it. Over the years, Stephanie has had small roles on Shameless, Grey's Anatomy, and Bones. Next, Stephanie will be portraying an intense character named Hammerhead on DC's newest show Doom Patrol that premiered in February.
In addition to Doom Patrol, she has a supporting role in the spiritual film Breakthrough staring Chrissy Metz. Stephanie has been working steadily in the entertainment industry and has persevered due to her talent and great attitude.
Unfortunately, cancer had other plans and Stephanie had been diagnosed with three different cancers in the past few years. Still, she didn't let her health problems take over and win. She has worked steadily despite going through rounds of chemotherapy and enduring all that cancer entails. In an exclusive interview, we talked to Stephanie about her career, new projects, and what's next for her. Keep reading!
TheThings (TH): What inspired you to first become an actress and how did you get started?
Stephanie Czajkowski (SC): When I was five, I insisted my mother write a letter to the local cable station in Southern Wisconsin to ask how I could be on The Brady Bunch.When I got home from kindergarten, I would always watch the reruns in syndication. One of the producers at the TV station actually wrote me back and said, while they were sorry The Brady Bunch was no longer shooting, if I was interested in being an actress, I should look to take acting classes. So, I started writing plays and performing in local theater productions.
TH: Where have we seen you before? Tell us about your background as an actor and howyou got here.
SC: You’ve seen me doing a pushup contest in the Season 3 finale of Shameless, directing firefighter’s when Grey Sloan Memorial was on fire in Grey’s Anatomy, and throwing axes in the final season of Bones. My background is in theater. I’m originally from Wisconsin, but I made my way to New York to attend drama school at NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts. After that, I continued working on my craft at Playwright’s Horizon and Steppenwolf Theatre before heading out west to Los Angeles.
TH: You have two new exciting projects at the moment! You appear both in the new DCcomic show Doom Patrol playing Hammerhead and in the inspiring movieBreakthrough. Tell us a little bit about each role.
SC: Doom Patrol reimagines one of DC's most beloved group of outcast superheroes, each of whom acquired his or her special abilities after disfiguring accidents. This so-called team of misfits consists of Robotman (Brendan Fraser), Negative Man (Matt Bomer), Elasti-Girl (April Bowlby), Cyborg (Joivan Wade) and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) and a farting donkey. My character, Hammerhead, fits into the storyline as one of the 64 personalities that exist within Jane, each living in a separate corner of her mind and wrestling for control.
Breakthrough is based on a true story and follows Joyce Smith’s (Chrissy Metz)dramatic refusal to give up on her son after accidentally falls through an icy lake and lies lifeless in the hospital. I appear as Melissa, offering some comfort and support to my best friend, Joyce, during a very emotionally difficult time.
TH: On Doom Patrol, you play Hammerhead. How would you describe this character? Was she fun to play?
SC: She’s a born fighter with a bad attitude, who solves problems by punching them in the face. Because she is so physical, she’s incredibly fun to play. I mean how often do you get to drag someone by the hair?
TH: Do you think you’ll return to Doom Patrol to reprise your role?
SC: I certainly hope so. Honestly, I don’t know. It will depend on what thewriters have in store for Jane next season.
TH: After Breakthrough, do you think you’ll do more movies? Tell us a little more about your character in Breakthrough.
SC: Absolutely. A couple of months after shooting Breakthrough, I worked on theDisney remake of Call of The Wild which is going to be released at the end of this year.In Breakthrough, Melissa is Joyce’s good-natured best friend. She’s supportive, butalso has a bit of sass and isn’t afraid to talk about stuff that’s difficult.
TH: Do you prefer acting on television or movies? What are the benefits to each?
SC: I like working period. Doesn’t really matter what the medium is.Television is cool because you are often walking into a well-oiled machine, but depending on the set, it can be a bit intimidating. The benefit is there is a chance to return and play again and keep the same character alive.
In movies, unless you have a budget for reshoots, you don’t get that luxury. But because movies are for only a set amount of time, you become “family” real quick, and that’s pretty amazing.
TH: We're saddened to hear that you've been battling cancer for a while now. What type ofcancer did you have and are you in remission, or still fighting?
SC: Technically while prognoses are outstanding, I am not officially in full“remission”. Last year I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer, Stage 2 InvasiveLobular Breast Cancer, and baby renal cancer. The thyroid cancer is gone, I am currently halfway through radiation for breast cancer, and I have an upcoming operation for renal cancer. So, full remission is looking like it will probably be this summer.
TH: How did cancer affect your career? Did you still work while in treatment?
SC: I don’t know if I can say it helped it, but I ended up booking two of my biggest projects to date while in the first parts of my treatment. I am one of the fortunate people who tolerated chemo treatments really well. I shot Doom Patrol in-between my 4th and 5th chemo sessions.
TH: How did cancer affect your overall outlook on life?
SC: It made me more mindful of just how much time we are given on this earth, and that making the most of it. It really does just mean enjoying the small moments, that we tend to brush over.
TH: What’s next for you? Where can we see you next?
SC: There’s a series called I Friggin Love You currently in pre-production thatI am due to start shooting soon. Also, you’ll see me as Hammerhead some more inSeason One of Doom Patrol. And then, I’ve got my supporting role in the DisneyChristmas release Call of The Wild.
Wow! Thank you so much, Stephanie! Your attitude is a true inspiration and we wish you much success and good health!