Celeste M. Cooper is an actor, producer, community builder, casting associate, educator, mentor, and solo performer. She was invited into Steppenwolf Theatre’s ensemble in 2018. Her Steppenwolf credits include: BLKS, The Doppelgänger (an International Farce), Familiar, A Doll’s House, Part 2, Duchess! Duchess! Duchess! (New York Times Critic Pick), and The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington. Some other Chicago credits include: Blues for an Alabama Sky (Court Theatre/ Jeff Awards Best Production recipient), Measure for Measure (Goodman Theatre), Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse), Ruined (Eclipse Theatre/ ensemble member and casting associate), Our Lady of 121st Street (Eclipse Theatre), How We Got On (Citadel Theatre), and more. She has written, produced, and performed two one-woman shows Fight 4 Your Life and The Incredible Cece (MPAACT, Stage 773, and Phoenix Academy High School). Regional credits include: The Hammer Trinity (The House Theatre at Adrienne Arsht Center), Building The Wall (Curious Theatre), For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf (Kansas City Repertory), Mrs. Harrison (Indiana Repertory Theatre), What I Learned in Paris (South Coast Repertory), and Confederates (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis). TV/film credits include: Chicago PD (recurring), 4400 (guest star), Sense8, Spike Lee’s Chiraq, and led the indie feature Range Runners. She was awarded Most Promising Actress by the Black Theater Alliance in 2014, Best Actress for Range Runners from Twister Alley Film Festival in 2019, and NewCity Stage magazine listed her as “people who really perform for Chicago” in 2020 and in 2023. She received her BA in Speech Communications and Theatre from Tennessee State University and her MFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. She has been represented by Paonessa Talent Agency since 2012.
In 2022, she was hired as a casting associate for McCracken Casting. Her first job as a casting associate was casting The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis production of Confederates. However, in a production meeting, the former director Nataki Garrett invited her to join the cast. She has also helped cast The Lyric Opera’s production of West Side Story and Court Theatre’s Spotlight Reading Series. She is also grateful for every teaching opportunity she’s had with Northwestern University, the August Wilson Monologue Competition, The Theatre School at DePaul University, and Vagabond School of the Arts. As a producer/ community builder, she has produced readings, solo shows, and community events including her weekly Bible Study since 2016, a workout accountability group since 2019, a Mastermind group from 2017-2021, and a 7-part virtual panel series called Be That Light in 2020. Each panel featured different black artists and covered the following topics: faith in times of uncertainty, self-care, finances, arts, activism, and education. She has also produced eleven and counting Community Love Events in which volunteers gather to write handwritten messages of encouragement and hope and pass them out in different communities along with small monetary gifts. Love notes and gifts have been spread between Chicago, New York, California, St. Louis, and Honolulu. She has also produced four and counting Water Light Fellowships focused on healing and self-care between Chicago and LA.