'She Said' star Zoe Kazan got her acting degree and wrote a play at Yale

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Actress, playwright and screenwriter Zoe Kazan, who recently played a journalist on a quest to expose Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's serial sexual abuse of women, got her acting degree and even wrote a play in in Connecticut.

"She Said," which was released in theaters on Nov. 18, tells the real-life-inspired story of New York Times investigative journalists Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) as they work on a story that exposes Weinstein's misdeeds.

Zoe Kazan — who has also starred in films like "The Kindness of Strangers" and "The Monster" — said that she felt connected to the story, because of what it meant for women who have gone through sexual abuse, during an interview with CBS News. She said she also got emotional reading Twohey and Kantor's book "She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement," which chronicled the journalist's investigation and helped inspire the movie.

"I cried reading the book when the women decided to go on the record; I felt the same way when reading the script, I cried every time I read it," she told CBS News. "I think it's just very emotional to see women stand in their truth and their power. To see an institution like the New York Times stand behind them and put heft behind those individual voices. Watching women be believed I think is very powerful." 

Zoe Kazan spent time with the real-life Kantor in order to prepare for the role and was able to connect with her due to similar experiences, like sending their children to the same preschool, according to Vanity Fair.

"Watching Jodi listen was a huge part of my preparation, getting a sense of how she is across the table. And then I asked her just a bunch of nosy questions like what do you bring into an interview? Are you using a recording device? Are you using a notebook?," Zoe Kazan told Vanity Fair in November. 

Before she made it to the silver screen, Zoe Kazan got her Bachelor of Arts at Yale University in 2005. During her junior year at the university, she began work on writing the play "Absalom," which is about a family of writers going through "confrontations and shifting allegiances," according to the Dramatists Play Service.

'"Absalom,' directed by Giovanna Sardelli, suggests that Ms. Kazan possesses an instinctive feel for mining drama from the neuroses, insecurities and obsessions of the creative classes," New York Times author Charles Isherwood wrote in 2009.

She also graduated with honors and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, which is a group that "has celebrated excellence liberal arts and sciences and championed freedom of thought," according to its website.

"Graduated Yale University with honors & Phi Beta Kappa. Get. Off. My. Lawn," Zoe Kazan wrote on Twitter in 2017

During her time at Yale, she also joined the Manuscript Society, which is a "highly selective" group that focuses on the arts, according to Off Camera. Some other famous members of the society include actress Jodie Foster and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, according to Curbed. 

Playwriting runs in her family, as her late paternal grandfather, two-time Oscar-winner Elia Kazan, was described by The New York Times as "one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history." Elia Kazan, who also attended Yale, directed films such as "East of Eden," which is an adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel. Zoe Kazan is currently developing a Netflix limited series based on "East of Eden," which stars Florence Pugh, according to Deadline. 

“I fell in love with 'East of Eden' when I first read it, in my teens. Since then, adapting Steinbeck’s novel — the great, sprawling, three-generational entirety of it — has been my dream," she told Deadline.  

However, Zoe Kazan implied she did not want to follow in all of her grandfather's footsteps. In 1952, he gave the House Un-American Activities Committee — which was designed to identify Americans who might have Communist ties — the names of eight other people in Hollywood who were allegedly part of the American Communist Party alongside him, which damaged those people's careers while saving his own, according to Spartacus Educational.

"I have thought a lot about how the history of our country affected my family’s history and what it meant for my grandfather as an immigrant to this country to have his American-ness tested and the choice that he made from that," Zoe Kazan said in 2020, according to Deadline. “And I thought a lot about my own choices, the way I choose to live my life. I think, 'Thou mayest choose a different life.'"

"She Said" also mentions Bridgewater native Ronan Farrow, son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, who worked on a similar story for The New Yorker exposing Weinstein, which won him the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Farrow was recognized by Connecticut Magazine's 40 Under 40 for his actions.

While Weinstein has already been convicted of third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act in the first degree and is serving 23 years in prison, he is once again facing rape charges in an ongoing trial in Los Angeles.