Keira Mitchell recited some lines from a script with her grandmother Gail Jasper in Jasper’s Atlantic City home on a recent Monday.
Keira’s practicing to audition for a Disney Channel television show.
“I’d rather be on camera, share my creativity with the world and show off my stuff,” Keira, 12, of Atlantic City, said in an earlier phone interview.
Mitchell isn’t alone. She’s among performers in the region who would like a change of ZIP code to the Hollywood region.
South Jersey has seen a few of its young performers get their lucky breaks.
Gaten Matarazzo, 14, a Little Egg Harbor Township native, found success last summer in the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”
Micah Fowler, born in Barnegat Township, stars as J.J. DiMeo in ABC’s sitcom “Speechless.” The teen actor has cerebral palsy.
Mitchell isn’t there just yet, but she is trying.
In 2016, she had a speaking role for the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers. She was an extra in a music video at Char-ter Tech High School for the Performing Arts in Somers Point. She also takes dance lessons and has taken classes at the Weist-Barron-Ryan Acting Workshops in Atlantic City.
“I want to be a triple threat,” she said.
She wants to be like her role models.
Mitchell’s biggest influences come from former Disney Channel child actor Zendaya and Academy Award-nominated actor Will Smith — a Philadelphia native whose success started at a young age on NBC’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Those actors also have succeeded in the music industry, but for Mitchell, she’s just trying to have another productive year in 2017.
“I want to be in more commercials, and I want to be in a TV show,” she said.
Mitchell isn’t worried about the bleak odds. She’s too focused on her lines.
“You just have to believe in yourself and be confident,” she said.
Violet Berk has been practicing dance since she was 4. Now, at age 9, she participated in improv work on NBC’s “Meredith Vieira Show” with other child actors.
Violet’s mother, Tricia Keeper, said Violet works on her on-camera performance by filming videos on her phone.
The process doesn’t stop, Keeper added.
“Auditions, recitals — it’s hectic,” said Keeper, of Atlantic City.
Violet’s stepfather, grandmother and aunt help out. The reason they’re all willing to help is because they know it’s something Violet loves to do.
And if it doesn’t work out for Violet?
“It will be good experience for dealing with the real world,” Keeper said.
And if it does work, would Keeper want to be her daughter’s manager, something that has plagued some child actors in the past?
“Oh, no,” she laughed. “I’m a teacher, and I’m lucky to have my job, so I’d find someone else to do that.”
For 2017, Violet wants to get in front of the camera more. She wants to have as much fun as she had in the NBC studio for Meredith Vieira.
“I got to really meet new people, and I got to really see what was behind the scenes before they go on stage,” she said.
Violet will take more acting classes and work on a monologue.
“I like how (when you have a monologue) you have to practice, you can add details to it and really get into the story,” Violet said.
Tripp Corson, 11, attended workshops four years ago but stopped. He plays football and baseball and swimming, but he recently told his mother he wanted to go back to classes.
“This is what he wants to do and he asked to do it, and I will take steps necessary to achieve that dream,” said Marylou Corson, of Linwood.
Corson attended Weist-Barron-Ryan workshops when she was starting her legal career, because she wanted to learn how to speak in front of a crowd. Now her son would be returning to the same classes.
Tripp said he would love to be on a show like “Stranger Things.” He said a South Jersey actor, like Gaten from that show, can be good motivation.
“Even (in) a place not very well-known like South Jersey, people like (Gaten) can still be an inspiration and inspire people like me,” Tripp said.