GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan native and actress Suzanne Salhaney recently made her mark on the smash Netflix series “Cobra Kai.”
Salhaney has lived in Atlanta for more than 30 years, but she grew up in Grand Rapids and graduated from Ottawa Hills High School. Her latest claim to fame in a bit part on “Cobra Kai,” a sequel series to the 1980s cult classic “The Karate Kid.” Salhaney played Nurse Caroline in Season 3, episode 1 of the series.
“I was a fan of ‘The Karate Kid’ back in the day, in the ’80s. My children, of course, grew up watching it,” Salhaney told News 8 in a video call from her home in Atlanta.
She auditioned for the show in August 2019 while spending time in Grand Rapids aiding her ailing mother.
“My niece very graciously said, ‘I’ll go ahead and do it (record the audition) on my iPhone, it’s been done before.'” Salhaney recalled.
Salhaney had just booked a spot on the Netflix show “Teenage Bounty Hunters” when she heard from her agent again, telling her she’d been chosen for the character in “Cobra Kai”:
“I was in my car and got the call from my agent and he said “Girl, you’re on a roll.'”
Salhany said it was surreal and a bit intimidating to be on the set of the hit show. She said she gets chills just thinking about it.
“Every time I talk about it, I don’t know what it is about the particular show … I guess it’s because it was such an amazing show back in the ’80s,'” she said.
Fans of the show will remember the scene in which Johnny (William Zabka) is trying to get into the hospital intensive care to see Miguel. Salhaney plays the nurse who turns him away.
“It was just the two of us pretty much for both of my scenes,” she recalled. “The third one that got cut, it was just more facial expressions.”
She said working with Zabka was a thrill because he threw in lines that weren’t in the script. The line that ended up in the show had Johnny asking Caroline to be a “bad girl.”
“He made me feel like I belong there. That it didn’t matter what part you play, whether big or small, you belong there. And he treated me like a real human,” Salhaney said.
Salhaney said she was on set for a full day. They started shooting her scene in the afternoon and wrapped around 8 p.m.
Growing up in Grand Rapids, Salhaney was a dancer and had always loved acting.
“This was something that was a passion of mine since I was really little. I always was doing plays and all kinds of things and charging people a nickel,” she said.
After raising a family, she decided it was her turn to live her dream. She started researched acting schools and studied with acting coaches in Los Angeles and Atlanta. She was in her 40s when she started her professional acting career.
“You can do it at any age,” she said. “You really can.”
She has played the part of medical professional before, but “Cobra Kai” was her first TV role other than commercials.
“I hope to continue doing what I’m doing until I can’t walk and talk anymore, honestly,” she said. “I want to do this forever. It’s not a hobby to me.”
Nearly all of Salhaney’s family still live in West Michigan, including her sisters, nieces and nephews.
“It’s beautiful. If I could live in Grand Rapids in the summers and live in Atlanta in the winters, I would be in heaven,” she said.
When she’s not acting, she works as a real estate broker and owner of a small brokerage firm.
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