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Actress Helps East Bay Teen With Chronic Illness Achieve Acting Dream

Throughout her decade-long career in Hollywood, Steph Langnas has accumulated many acting credits to her name. Her most cherished role, however, is one she has only recently been in. The reason it may be her favorite of all time has everything to do with who her co-star is: 16-year-old Zoé Berman.

I truly think that she is one of the most, if not the most inspiring, kids I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Langnas said.

In 2021, Langnas and Berman were paired through a non-profit called CoachArt, where artists and athletes mentor children battling chronic illnesses. Langnas signed on to provide Zoé with acting lessons via video link (Langnas was living in Los Angeles while Berman lives in Piedmont). The commitment was for eight weeks. Their connection, though, was something special. Langas and Berman continued meeting for the next three years.

I did lessons with other kiddos and, you know, we finished. And then Zoé and I literally never stopped,” Langnas said. 

While Berman has always been drawn to performing, she faced a unique challenge being born with myotonic dystrophy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy that affects muscles and other organs in the body. Although Berman has been on stage numerous times in supporting roles during her life, she has never secured the type of starring roles she longed for. That changed once Langnas entered her life. 

“She’s funny. She’s brilliant. And she is the kindest, sweetest big sister figure to me,” Berman said. 

Their exceptional bond was recognized at Coach Art’s annual Gala in San Francisco where they were honored with “match of the year.” It was also at the gala that money was pledged to help Zoé realize her long-held dream: to star in her very own show.

“Zoé’s Shooting Star” was to be a two-woman show featuring Berman and Langnas acting out scenes from Berman’s favorite shows.

“Oh, as an opportunity, I think it’s great, terrific. Let’s say, beyond amazing, beyond the stars of amazing,” Berman said.    

The performance was held in March at San Francisco’s Gateway Theater. Despite some nerves backstage before the show, Berman performed flawlessly in front of a crowd of more than two hundred family, friends, and supporters.

Afterward, she was greeted by her cheering fans on a red carpet set up in front of the theater. “She did it better than I could have imagined, better than we rehearsed. My little star,” Langnas said.

For more information about myotonic dystrophy, visit

Source: NBC Bay Area

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