Riley is Cool Beans

Riley Cooper of Monroe, Ga., performs at Cool Beans Comedy in Pasadena, Calif.

Around downtown Monroe, Riley Cooper might seem like the average 11-year-old. Cooper attends school and participates in extracurricular activities like any other fifth grader.

In actuality, Cooper has been involved in acting, modeling and stand-up comedy for a little over a year. She has signed with agencies in both Atlanta and Los Angeles.

“She started with modeling when she was 4. She did a Walmart audition… but she wanted to take a break. She then did a workshop (for acting) in July. Through there, we met someone who knew a big agency,” Tina Cooper, Riley Cooper’s mom, said.

Cooper travels to both Atlanta and Los Angeles for her work. Some of her earliest works in Atlanta include participating in music videos and commercials, according to Tina Cooper. Since then, she has been in projects such as “Mennonite at a Gun Show,” which she earned an award for at the American Youth Film Festival. Her most current project, “The Change Up,” a short about self-acceptance, is currently being sent to and accepted into several film festivals.

“The Change Up” has been her favorite project thus far. After being in a car wreck with her mother, the production crew sent a car to pick up Cooper from the scene so she could start filming. Other memories from this production include learning how to pitch a baseball and skateboard.

When she is not auditioning for roles or on set, Cooper enjoys stand-up comedy. She has performed with Cool Beans Comedy and Ice House Comedy Club, where she was one of the youngest comedians. With some help of some jokes from her dad, she ended up writing her skit all by herself.

“Man things are expensive here. I blew through my allowance on one Smart Water. In Georgia, if you pay for water, you ain’t smart,” Cooper said as one of her jokes at The Ice House Comedy Club in California.

Despite constantly traveling between Atlanta and Los Angeles, her school, George Walton Academy, has been accommodating to her through this process. They would send Cooper a packet of homework that she would have to complete and turn back in. She has managed to keep straight A’s while traveling.

Things have shifted since the start of her career as she is having to adapt since COVID-19. She is having to send in audition tapes to various projects instead of going in to display her abilities in person and her current projects are put on hold. She still works with her various coaches online so she can still learn.

“She loves [acting]. This is her sport. She has arthritis so many sports hurt her joints, but this is her outlet,” Tina Cooper said.

She plans on becoming a film star, like her idol Anne Hathaway.

She plans on eventually receiving an Oscar for more serious and dramatic roles and getting a star on Hollywood Boulevard.


University of Georgia student Grace Townsend is a correspondent for The Walton Tribune. She is a 2018 graduate of North Oconee High School.