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Disney dreams: BMS student heads to L.A.

January 29, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- Samantha Stiller was in the car with her dad two weeks ago when she heard a radio commercial seeking kids for acting jobs on the Disney Channel.

After auditioning along with 600 others ranging in age from 6-19 a few days later, Samantha was one of only 30 selected to travel to Los Angeles for further exploration of acting opportunities with Disney.

"I'm excited," said Samantha, 13. "I tell people at school that I get to go to L.A. I'm hoping this can be my career."

The Brandon Middle School eighth-grader auditioned Jan. 18 at the Marriott Hotel near Detroit Metro Airport after her dad, John Stiller, told her she would be good at it. Samantha's mom, Darleen Sherman, took her to the audition, where they were first in line for an interview by Steven Hughes, and second in line for Samantha's actual audition, where she had to say a line for a Neutrogena commercial.

Asked what the line was, even two weeks after the audition, Samantha reels it off perfectly: "It's the night before the big prom and everything is going perfect, but all of a sudden, out of nowhere pops a huge zit! But not to worry, with the new Neutrogena on-the-spot acne patches, that zit will be gone in no time. The tiny little micro-scrubbers dig down deep to zap that zit, so your prom can go back to being perfect, just like it should be."

What makes it even more remarkable is that she was given just a half-hour to rehearse the lines.

During the actual interview, Hughes asked Darleen if she and Samantha's father would be supportive of their daughter's acting ambitions.

"He was telling the kids this is all about their attitude and personality, that those things will get them an acting career above everything else. My main concern was looking back on all these teen idols and what they've been through and I think that as long as her father and I stand behind her, she can do this."

"I'm not turning into Miley Cyrus," adds Samantha, shaking her head vehemently.

Hughes only asked Samantha one question: Why did she want to be an actress?

"I said I wanted to do it because people in my school always make fun of me for my size and my voice and I wanted to prove that just because they say that doesn't stop me from doing anything," Samantha said.

The next morning, she had to send a text with her name to find out if she was getting called back. She was, along with about 60 other kids.

More audition lines followed that day, and she, along with almost 30 other kids, were selected to travel to California.

Samantha, who said she is distantly related to actor Ben Stiller, will go to L.A. Feb. 12-18 with her mom, who is paying for the trip. Auditions in California are from Feb. 13-17. On the first day, Samantha will choose an actor or actress to work with from a list given to her and on the second day will practice her lines. The third day is dress rehearsals and on the fourth day, a trip to Universal Studios is planned, complete with red carpet and paparazzi.

If Samantha is chosen for a final audition and gets an agent, Darleen said the studio will pay for her trips out to California for filming. She would like to appear in commercials, shows and movies.

Samantha's favorite Disney show is "Good Luck Charlie" and she said she would like to appear on that show as a new neighbor and get to meet actress Bridgit Mendler, who has a role on the show.

"I would like everyone knowing who I am," said Samantha, "and being able to travel around the world."

California will be a good start.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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