Beanie Feldstein talks friendship, identity at Northwestern Hillel event


Joanne Haner/Daily Senior Staffer

Beanie Feldstein. Feldstein was Hillel’s fall celebrity speaker, and she answered questions from NU students Wednesday.

Jacob Fulton, Editor in Chief

For actor Beanie Feldstein, friendship is the “most important thing” in her life, both on- and off-screen. 

Feldstein discussed how relationships with co-stars, directors and other colleagues have shaped her at Northwestern Hillel’s Wednesday celebrity speaker event, which drew a crowd of about 300. Throughout the conversation, she also emphasized the importance of her identity as a queer Jewish woman and broke down her wide-ranging resume. 

“My North Star has always been friendship,” Feldstein said. “Friendship has led me through my life and made me the person that I am. To be a part of these movies where friendship is at the core and is the love story of the movie, it’s meant so much to me.” 

This year, Feldstein played Fanny Brice in the first Broadway revival of “Funny Girl” alongside Jane Lynch and Ramin Karimloo. She’s also received praise for her performances in Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut “Booksmart” and Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird.” 

Communication senior Rachel Mandelker said she was excited for Feldstein’s visit to NU because of their shared interests and identities. As a Jewish woman interested in performing arts, Mandelker said she came to the event, in part, to hear Feldstein’s thoughts on how Judaism has impacted her career.  

“It’s really cool to see a public figure who is very obviously Jewish and is very proud of their Jewish heritage,” Mandelker said. “She’s a really great representative of that.”

Throughout the conversation, Feldstein emphasized the importance of increasing Jewish representation in the performing arts industry. 

Mandelker also said she was looking forward to hearing Feldstein’s take on portraying Monica Lewinsky in FX’s “Impeachment: American Crime Story.” Playing Lewinsky, Hillel’s spring celebrity speaker, was “the hardest thing (Feldstein has) ever done,” especially given the relationship she built with Lewinsky throughout the production process.

“It’s one thing when you want to do right by the director, the scripts, the character — it’s all emotional,” Feldstein said. “It’s another thing entirely when that person is in your phone, in your house, someone you love.”

Hillel Programming co-Chair Phoebe Chapnick-Sorokin said she was excited by the insight Feldstein could offer, especially for students interested in theatre and acting. 

Given Feldstein’s repertoire, the Weinberg senior said she knew the actor would be a hit with students. 

“People look up to her and have positive views on her,” Chapnick-Sorokin said. “We just thought that she would be someone who would really captivate the Northwestern community.”

Throughout the night, Feldstein continued to discuss how the friendships she’s made have shaped her career. From inviting “Booksmart” co-star Kaitlyn Dever to be a bridesmaid in her wedding to signing on to film “Merrily We Roll Along” over the course of two decades with longtime friend Ben Platt, Feldstein said the people with which she surrounds herself have gotten her to where she is today.

As parting advice for aspiring young professionals in all fields, Feldstein stressed the importance of uplifting others and building community when opportunities arise. These chances, she said, will arrive for everyone when the timing is right. 

“You’re never competing. I really believe that what is meant to be yours will find you,” Feldstein said. “All you can do is your best and be most authentically yourself.”

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Twitter: @jacobnfulton

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