11-year-old Miya Cech stars in her first major film The Darkest Minds playing “Zu,”  a girl who is mute due to the trauma of going through a worldwide pandemic. Cech discusses what she had to master in order to convey Zu’s feelings on the big screen. Cech mentions her representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood and her goal to continue to take on diverse and challenging roles into her future. Cech is female and Asian-American, two things that are sparse in Hollywood, yet she is determined to continue her work (as she should) because her talent cannot be replaced. Get to know Cech below!

You are only 11-years-old and have been in entertainment since you were four! How did acting start for you?
When I was about 8 years old, I told my parents that I wanted to try acting. I had been modeling for a while and thought that acting sounded fun and challenging. It turned out to be both!

Is acting your dream job? Do you see yourself doing this for a long time?
Right now I’m having so much fun with different projects so of course, I’d say that I’d want to be doing this in 10 years.  I’d actually love to be doing a little directing by then. When I’m on set, I’m almost always hanging out with my director between scenes. However, if I’m not acting when I am an adult,  I’d want to be a biologist because I love science.

You have been featured in multiple hit television shows such as American Horror Story: Roanoke, American Housewife, Nickelodeon comedy The Thundermans, and of course you made your debut in the CBS action-crime drama Hawaii Five-0. How does it feel having so much experience at such a young age?
I have been really lucky with different roles I had from a young age.  I feel like I had a chance to learn something different with every role- comedy, drama, action and improv.

You are currently starring in a movie adaptation of The Darkest Minds, based on a popular teen read and New York Times Bestseller. For those who are unfamiliar, what is the movie about?
The Darkest Minds is about a world where 98% of kids in the United States have died from an epidemic and the 2% who are left have powers that the adults are scared of.   They are taken from their parents and put into camps. The main character, Ruby, whose power is mind control (one of the most dangerous), escapes her camp and finds 3 other kids on the run. I play Zu,  the youngest of the 4 kids and have the power of electricity. The story is their adventure trying to find a safe haven for kids and how, even though they lost everything , they become a family.

I want to take on strong female roles.  I want to represent Asian American and minority actors by taking on a variety of challenging roles.

You play “Zu” in The Darkest Minds. What’s your favorite part of playing her?
My favorite part about Zu is that she’s loyal and protective of her big sister and brothers.  Also that the older kids really look out for her, which actually became true in real life. Amandla, Skylan and Harris became like older siblings to me.

Your character Zu remains mute throughout the film due to the trauma from the worldwide pandemic. That must have been a challenge to play. How did you prepare for this aspect of the role?
It was challenging to play a character who doesn’t speak but I had to really learn how to convey emotions without words.  I just had to learn how to speak without speaking. I learned that you can say a lot with your eyes and mannerisms.

I heard that you did your own stunts on set. What was that like?
There’s one scene where I had to take a fall and it looks like I hit my head on the concrete.  I had a ton of fun learning how to fall convincingly from the stunt coordinator and I think it turned out well on screen.

Describe what the experience was like being on set of The Darkest Minds. Any behind the scene stories you could share with your fans?
The whole experience was an adventure.  There were critters on set like turtles and frogs and one very very large horned beetle that none of us will forget!  I’ll mostly remember spending time with the other kids and also sitting with Director Jen and learning.

Do you have a favorite part of the movie?
My favorite scenes were the picnic scene and Zu’s dream scene.  Both were fun to film and Jen and Kramer made them both look beautiful on screen.

This is your first big film release. How are you feeling? What are you most excited about with the release of the film?
I’m excited and nervous at the same time.  I want people to love it as much as we all do and I hope they can see how much love went into making the film.

Is there a dream role you wish to play?
I want to take on strong female roles.  I want to represent Asian American and minority actors by taking on a variety of challenging roles.  

You were born in Tokyo, Japan but grew up in California. As an adopted child yourself, you’re also passionate about shedding light on the process of adoption. How are you using your platform to talk about this?
My parents always talked to me and my siblings openly about our adoptions.  I want other adopted kids to be proud of their story the way we are and be able to celebrate their unique families.  In The Darkest Minds, the main characters become a family and it’s one of the things I liked best about the story.  

On your Instagram, there are some pretty cute photos with your sister, Kai Marie Cech. Do you think she will want to be like her big sister and follow in your footsteps?
Kai is 7 years old and already has been a pretty busy print model for most of her life.  Last year she had a chance to film a pilot on NBC and loved it. It will be interesting to see if she continues.  

What do you do in your free time?
I love to garden and cook.  I like to look up YouTube recipes and try them out with my mom.  I also love swimming, riding my bike and playing with my dog Bowie and cats, Pepper and Maxie.  

Who do you look up to in the entertainment industry?
I really look up to strong female role models like Ali Wong and Jen Yuh Nelson who are also awesome, kick-butt, Asian-American women.

 

STORY MEGHANA PATNANA

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