Sarah Cooper is a writer, comedian, blogger, vlogger and general opinion-sharer. Her tongue-in-cheek career and relationship advice has appeared on Huffington Post, Business Insider and Elite Daily. Sarah also creates a weekly vlog called Waking Up With Sarah Cooper, as well as comedy sketches and video commentary on her YouTube Channel. She is the creator of the satirical corporate culture website The Cooper Review and satirical dating website Oolalove!. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Sarah also spent many years as a user experience designer for Yahoo!, Flickr, and most recently, Google and is currently a freelance visual designer.
I was born a small blackish child in Jamaica. My mother is half German and my father is half Chinese, which is why I look Columbian. My family moved to Washington, DC when I was three. As soon as I learned to talk I was correcting my parents’ accents and grammar.
“Mom, it’s not a souda. It’s a pacifier.”
I always wanted to be a performer. When I was little that meant singing. After failing to make chorus four years in a row, that meant acting. I was always on stage in high school, and received a theatre scholarship to the University of Maryland. There, my parents discouraged getting a theatre degree and suggested business instead.
I visited the business school and realized my schmoozing skills were not up to par. So I became an economics major and graduated in just 3 and a half years, knowing I’d want nothing to do with economics as soon as I left. #boredtotears
During my final semester I took a multimedia course and fell in love with Photoshop and pixels. I graduated and got a job at a graphic design agency – as a receptionist. I thought I could “work my way up”. That didn’t seem to be happening, though. One day, while reading a design magazine when I was supposed to be ordering supplies, I saw an ad for Georgia Tech’s graduate program in Information Design and Technology. Even though I had already missed the application deadline, I decided to go for it. I moved to Atlanta, got my master’s degree and became a designer at an ad agency.
I was in love with my job and design but never forgot my acting dream. I started taking classes, got an agent, and booked some commercials. Then came an offer from Yahoo! in California and I put those dreams aside again, to move to San Francisco. It quickly became my favorite city in the whole world.
After a few years at Yahoo! and a startup, I decided to pursue acting again. I started taking classes and met a crazy Italian guy who convinced me that we should get married. This is where the story gets interesting. I eloped and moved in with him. My parents blamed my behavior on these acting classes, where the main exercise was to sit on a chair on stage and cry. I knew it had more to do with being in San Francisco and not being in tech anymore, which is like losing your entire identity.
My parents convinced me to move back home, which turned out to be back to Atlanta, where they had followed me. I started acting again, doing any small film, commercial, or extra job I could find. I got actress skinny. I got a freelance design job, working for someone who had worked for me before.
I wasn’t as comfortable on camera as I wanted to be, so I decided to try standup comedy, which was only slightly, if not 1,000 times more nerve-wracking. Well, I figured if I could be myself in front of an audience, maybe I could learn to be myself on camera. What I found was that I actually enjoyed writing for myself and performing them how I wanted. It took a lot of alcohol at first, though.
After about a year of acting lessons, singing lessons, some standup shows and countless auditions, I booked two episodes on Army Wives, which was not a reality show as I’d first thought. I figured it was time for me to move to the big city. New York.
I only planned to stay the summer. I enrolled in a summer conservatory at Stella Adler. I wouldn’t say I loved it. In fact the more I did actual acting work, the more I realized I didn’t want to be an actor. In New York I also met people who had dedicated their lives to inhabiting other characters, in a way I knew I never would.
But I loved New York. So I decided to stay.
After 6 months, I was pretty broke and $20K in debt so it seemed like I’d have to move back to Atlanta or something. That’s when a friend from Georgia Tech, who was now working at Google, recommended me for a job there. I had no idea what to expect but I went through the interview process.
I was back in Atlanta for the opening of one of the independent films I had done when I got the call with an offer from Google. I accepted.
Google was an amazing place to work and I felt comfortable there immediately. I was struggling with what my childhood dreams had always been, and what actually felt good to me, which was having a not having to worry about money, being in Photoshop all day and working with smart people.
I became a design manager at Google and worked on some amazing projects and with some amazing people. I also met the love of my life. #bonus
But being a a manager left me feeling a little less creative. One summer I started Oolalove, a satirical dating site. The next summer I wrote 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. It has 3 million views and counting, got me on TV, and inspired me to launch a satirical humor site, The Cooper Review.
So, I decided to go pursue this creative thing once again, and left Google in October, 2014.
Now, I’m pursuing writing and doing freelance user experience design, and that’s where the story ends. For now.