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Local girl goes to Hollywood

Local girl goes to Hollywood

Posted: Friday, July 23, 2010 8:01 pm

Local girl goes to Hollywood | Alyssa Underwood
Alyssa Underwood, 10-year-old daughter of Frankie and Marsha Underwood of Union City, recently received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when she was invited to Hollywood — the center of the United States film industry.
Alyssa began her journey at Models of the South in Hilton Head, S.C., a model and talent competition event hosted by Jack Rasnic. Eleven modeling agencies and talent agents from Florida, South Carolina, New York, Nashville, Atlanta and Los Angeles judged the three-day event.
Alyssa won first place in runway, first place in photography and second place in TV commercial. She received a callback from Gregory James Blount of Aspiring Talent Management and executive producer of Sound Tree Entertainment, which produces concerts for stars such as Disney’s Mitchel Musso. Blount is also the producer of Talent Fest 365, Camp Hollywood and the Talent Camp at Universal Studios. After meeting with Alyssa and her parents, Blount offered Alyssa the opportunity to attend Camp Hollywood in California.
The family recently flew to Los Angeles so Alyssa could attend the week-long camp. Camp Hollywood 2010 was co-created by Blount and John D’Aquino, who plays President Martinez on Disney’s “Cory in the House” and “Hannah Montana.” A 30-year veteran actor, D’Aquino has starred in such shows as “Cold Case,” “CSI: Vegas,” “Monk,” “Seinfeld,” “Weeds” and “3rd Rock From the Sun” just to name a few. The duo also travel the country producing the workshop “A Day With the President,” which Alyssa attended in Bloomington, Ind.
While at Camp Hollywood, which is open to only 48 children, Alyssa and others learned from and performed for professionals who are currently working in the entertainment industry. Campers attended classes with agents, managers, casting agents, working actors and directors.
Alyssa received the following credits to add to her resume: Three-Camera Sitcom with Rondell Sheridan, Audition Workshop with Joey Paul Jensen, Commercial Audition with Susie Mains, Intro to Voice over in Hollywood with Jerry Gelb, Top 10 Acting Lessons with John D’Aquino, Intro to Sense Memory with Judy Savage and Improv Basics with Japheth Gordon and Adrien Theuer.
Camp Hollywood also gave Alyssa the opportunity to mingle with young actors/actresses who are currently on TV or whose songs are currently played on Radio Disney or celebrated on Nickelodeon. Among the celebrities were David Henrie of “Wizards of Waverly Place;” Rondell Sheridan of “That’s So Raven” and “Cory in the House;” Japheth Gordon of “CSI Miami,” “Heroes,” “Cory in the House” and “Rock in Race to Witch Mountain,” for which he was a stand-in; Disney singer Anna Margaret of “Starstruck;” The Ventura Girlz; Kaleigh Ryan of “Heroes: Season 4” and Brejé  of Disney Radio Hip Hop Discovery.
As part of camp, Alyssa performed with two other girls in a scene entitled “Three Rich Girls” for 25 special guests, which included directors, producers, managers, agents and other industry professionals. These guests received portfolios and resumes for each child and compared notes afterward as to how they thought each camper performed. During a call this month, D’Aquino gave Alyssa “great feedback” and said “she progressed extremely fast and has the potential of playing the role of a leading lady in the near future,” her mother said.
Mrs. Underwood said he compared her to such actresses as Dakota Fanning, Miranda Cosgrove, Abigail Breslin, Jennifer Aniston, Jodie Foster and Renee Zellweger and has asked her to view movies with these actresses so she may study them.
She said D’Aquino and Alyssa will soon begin conferencing through Skype video a few days per week in order to continue building her acting skills and to keep her up-to-date on any roles which may be available for her.
“He informed her that if this is something she really wanted then she was going to have to dedicate herself and work hard to continue building credits for her resume, and that he will help lead her in the right direction to land the leading roles,” Alyssa’s mother said, adding, “Alyssa’s attitude and outlook on life have changed tremendously, and she has a stronger desire to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.”
In late October, D’Aquino wants her to come back to Hollywood, if possible, her mother said.
Mrs. Underwood said through the hectic schedule, Alyssa was able to maintain first honor roll status in the gifted class at Ridgemont Elementary School. She also performed in the Masquerade Theatre productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Annie.” She is currently attending the Summer Masquerade Theatre Children’s Workshop and will be performing in “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.,” which opens tonight at 7 at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Union City.
Alyssa’s mother said she is also passionate about dance and has enjoyed taking hip hop dance classes.
“We truly are blessed to have such a talented and intelligent little girl who has such a strong desire to pursue this opportunity of a lifetime as well as her dream of one day becoming a successful actress or leading lady,” her parents said.
Alyssa is the granddaughter of Billy and Darlene Morris and Tommy and Kathy Underwood, all of Union City. Her great-grandparents are Raymond and Lou Morris and the late Alford and Dorothy Underwood, all of Union City, Charles and Maybell Hensley of Rives, Ruth Crabtree of Martin and the late Wilburn Crabtree of South Fulton.
Published in The Messenger 7.23.10

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