Santa Clarita student forges path on NBC’s “This Is Us”

"This Is Us" actress Mackenzie Hancsicsak poses for a picture outside of The Signal offices in Canyon Country on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

On most days, Mackenzie Hancsicsak is like every other 10-year-old.

She loves learning from her teacher at Charles Helmers Elementary School in Valencia, having sleepovers with her friends, playing with her rescue dogs and making homemade slime.

But on other days, she acts in NBC’s “This Is Us” as young Kate, her first big acting role, playing alongside stars Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore and going to award shows and A-list events.

The budding actress has gone from local performances in her community to holding a regular role on an award-winning series. She was recently honored at The Actors Fund’s 2017 Looking Ahead Awards, given to young people in the industry.

Becoming an actress

Hancsicsak first became interested in acting after seeing “Seussical the Musical” at Santa Clarita’s own Canyon Theatre Guild.

“I was never really shy,” Mackenzie Hancsicsak said. “My mom said I could go in front of 1,000 people and it wouldn’t bother me.”

Her willingness to perform in front of crowds and her outgoing personality made being on stage and in front of a camera second nature.

She’s now been on the NBC drama for two seasons and said she’s learned how to take directions, remember her lines better and become closer with the cast.

Both Helen Hunt and Regina King have served as directors on the show and given Hancsicsak individualized guidance and acting tips. She also said she learns a lot from Ventimiglia, who plays her father and encourages her to be creative and take her time during each scene.

A major element in Kate’s character as an adult, played by Chrissy Metz, is her love of singing. Hancsicsak hopes to be able to using her musical abilities in upcoming episodes and especially likes singing pop, rock and broadway songs.

While she said she doesn’t necessarily identify with her character, Hancsicsak said playing Kate has reminded her that kindness is more important than what someone looks like.

“Don’t worry about what any other person says,” she said. “If they say negative comments, just walk away.”

When Hancsicsak is at events, whether it be a Maroon 5 concert at Dodger Stadium, the Radio Disney Music Awards or the Teen Choice Awards, her mom said other celebrities are just as excited to see her as she is to see them.

She and her castmates Parker Bates and Lonnie Chavis, who play her brothers on the show, look forward to serving as presenters at the Casting Society of America’s Artios Awards in January.

The young actress also had a line in the cartoon show “Tangled: The Series,” with Mandy Moore playing Rapunzel, and said she would love to do more voiceover work.

Giving back to her community

The actress’ mom, Melinda Hancsicsak, encourages her daughter to use her platform to give back.

“I tell her, ‘Use what you’re doing for good,’” Melinda Hancsicsak said. “We want to raise good humans, not good actors.”

Recently, Hancsicsak contributed to Charles Helmers’ 30 Things for 30 Years contest to celebrate Santa Clarita turning 30 years old. Students donated to 30 different local charities and Hancsicsak brought in dog treats for shelter animals and school supplies for children in need.

She also takes part in the school’s green team, encouraging students to recycle, as well as doing other volunteer projects with her Girl Scout troop.

“I do it because I want to help our community,” the fifth-grader said.

“This Is Us” comes back from its winter break in January in an episode Hancsicsak said has been her favorite to shoot so far.

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