Remember the name: Klein third-grader Audrey Paris Scott gets her acting startin Revenge of the Bridesmaids
There must be something special in Houston’s hard old gumbo soil. The talent that grows and is nurtured here is stunning. Creative people, especially.
When it comes to actresses, I can easily pluck examples of famous thespians who had upbringing in H-Town; Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire) and Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Diary). Each has had a huge share of the Hollywood spotlight due to their extraordinary talent.
Right now, though, a brand new crop of little girl stars is shooting towards the big and small screens. One in particular is a tiny third-grader, well actually she’s heading into third grade, who can be seen in a TV movie Sunday and a big Disney film this fall. Heck, my Sam’s Club bag of cat litter weighs more than this actress!
It’s all pretty hot stuff for a child who only began acting two years ago at the ripe old age of six.
Let me introduce you to Audrey Paris Scott. You will be seeing a lot of her and this is her very first interview.
First off, you won’t be surprised that she’s “gifted and talented” and a straight-A student at her Klein ISD elementary school in Spring. You kind of expect talented people to be smart. However, that she taught herself Scottish and Australian accents by watching videos? Or that multiple Oscar-winning director Randall Wallace (Braveheart) liked her performance so much he had lines scripted for her? Or that her TV movie director, Jim Hayman (Ugly Betty) ordered a camera, “Right now!” to capture her wee hand holding the dragonfly she’d caught for him on set?
Watch Audrey Sunday (7 p.m. and again at 9:00 p.m.) in the ABC Family Channel movie, Revenge of the Bridesmaids. It opens with a flashback of four little girlfriends playing “wedding” together. These girls grow up to be the bridesmaids of the title. Audrey plays the younger version of Caitlyn (played as the adult by Virginia Williams). Audrey’s real-life mother, Deneka Scott, says it’s a great part. Her daughter gets to “show her bratty chops” in the childhood scenes that are a prelude to the bratty bridesmaids the girls become.
When this movie was shot, Audrey was seven. Veteran director Jim Hayman wrote her a note extolling, “What a wonderful actress you are and how much fun. All your ideas, and your understanding of your character Caitlyn will help make ‘Revenge of the Bridesmaids’ a success. Thank you.”
Since February, Audrey hasn’t gone more than two weeks without an audition. I know a lot of adult actors who would kill for that kind of attention.
Audrey’s mom is the one who “discovered” her. At the time, the family was living in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Deneka worked for the headquarters of Denny’s restaurants. She was responsible for casting Denny’s commercials from the client side, and was experienced at recognizing talent. By the time Audrey was six and the family had moved to Houston, she had tried the typical activities of ballet, gymnastics and soccer without falling in love with any of them. Deneka then considered acting as an activity. (Audrey told me she’d watched TV and said to herself, “I think I can do that.”) Deneka convinced instructor Elsa Ward to accept Audrey in her Saturday classes at Next Level Acting. (Normally, age seven is the school’s minimum.)
Elsa is so glad she did and says, "Audrey Scott is a darling, phenomenally talented and highly professional young actress, who works hard at her craft in class and private lessons. She's achieved tremendous success, and we are so proud of her. We look forward to continuing to nurture this rising talent!"
Audrey’s dad Joshua has been a big player in the little girl’s career, too. He found a posting on Craigslist for a child actress to play a young Diane Lane in an upcoming Disney film called Secretariat and submitted her. The family then left for vacation and when they returned, their home phone was burning up with messages from casting director Brinkley Maginnis. For Audrey. For the part. Director Randall Wallace had picked her himself.
Secretariat is the true story of Penny Chenery, the woman who defied all odds by taking over her ailing father’s stables and ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years of horse racing. Audrey plays the child Penny Chenery and Diane Lane is the adult.
(By the way, Diane Lane starred in the 2008 thriller Untraceable which was co-written by Houstonian, and surgeon, Mark Brinker. But that’s another column.)
Though Audrey was only on the Louisiana set of Secretariat for a couple of days, she made quite an impression on her director. Initially, she was supposed to be a photo double, but when Wallace heard her speak lines she became the actress for “Young Penny Chenery.”
Audrey is too young to understand the gravity of all the star-power she’s meeting (like actor Scott Glenn in Secretariat) but her mom and dad sure do. It’s breathtaking.
Back at home, she’s interested in more typical kid stuff — watching Scooby Do, iCarly, and Saturday Night Live. (“Saturday Night Live,” I asked? “That comes on much later than your nine-o-clock bedtime, doesn’t it ?” She patiently explained that on Saturday nights she’s allowed to stay up later. Hearing this, her dad clarified for the record that she watched an edited version of SNL on the DVR specifically to see Betty White. And even on Saturday nights, she’s “gone” by 10 p.m., he says.)
While acting is fun, and so is staying at cool hotels on location, there is a downside. The food. From an adult standpoint, it’s exceptional. To Audrey, it’s not chicken nuggets.
Should the youngster’s career taper off or Audrey lose interest, what would be the next best thing?
“I’d be a massage therapist,” she ventured.