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Local youth is 'homeless for the holidays'

October 07, 2009 - It was a 70-degree day in Indiana and Gabrielle Phillips spent the afternoon in a snowsuit sitting in front of a fire.

"I ended up getting a sunburn and they had to put a ton of make-up on to cover it up," said the 10-year-old Stadium Drive Elementary student.

Phillips was filming Homeless for the Holidays, a new full-length movie written and directed by George A. Johnson. In the film Phillips plays Michelle Baker, the main character's daughter.

The movie is about a family that loses their house and ends up on the street for Christmas.

"I'm the one who's the youngest and I'm more sad than everyone else," said Phillips of her character.

Phillips said that in the plot, "We give our last bit of family Christmas money to another homeless man on the street," but she won't tell the whole story so as not to spoil the ending.

In Homeless for the Holidays, Phillips remembers a snowball fight scene as her favorite experience.

Her least favorite? Sitting in front of the fire wearing a snowsuit in 70-degree weather.

"I love the movie," said the young actor's mom, Tiffany Weber-Phillips. "It tells a good story. It was a great opportunity and she had a lot of fun. We met a lot of nice individuals who I think we'll stay friends with for a long time."

Phillips and her mom say they spent each weekend for three months driving to the Fort Wayne area of Indiana for filming, putting a lot of miles on Weber-Phillips' car and fostering a future career for Phillips. Phillips says acting is something she "definitely" wants to do when she gets older.

The fifth-grader has experience on stage and on film and enjoys both formats equally.

"I like how you can be a different person each night or for a month," she said. "It's fun to be somebody else."

Performing in a stage version of Willy Wonka at Meadow Brook over the summer was Phillips' favorite experience in acting. She says she also enjoyed last year's A Christmas Carole, which she will perform in again this year.

Homeless for the Holidays will premiere in the local area soon at the Oxford 7.

"I'm really excited and I can't wait for everybody to see it," Phillips said. She also can't wait to do it again, but the next time around will be closer to home, her mom says.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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