Meet Our 2020 Summer Intern!

This summer, Play Like a Girl has an excited and dedicated intern working to support our staff in incredible ways. She will help us execute virtual programs, curate content, work with our supporters and so much more. Needless to say, she's a crucial part of the Play Like a Girl team. Meet our phenomenal summer intern, Hanako Batt.

Hana Batt

Hometown: Natick, Massachusetts

School: Vanderbilt University

Major: Psychology

 

How has sport impacted your life?

I started swimming for my summer league when I was six years old and fell in love with the community and camaraderie of it. In middle school, I began swimming year round,leaving soccer and field hockey, as it had become my favorite sport. The unconditional support from my team and amazing role models that I had the privilege of being surrounded by in and out of the pool pushed me to embrace challenges, maintain optimism, and lead through action, ultimately bringing me to Vanderbilt University. My incredible teammates here demonstrate every day what it means to give one hundred and ten percent in the water, in the classroom, and as a person. In my two years here so far, I have been inspired, challenged, and encouraged to be my best self in a way I cannot imagine without swimming. 

What is a typical day like for you as a student-athlete?

Typically, I wake up at six AM for morning practice, usually eating a snack while heading over to the pool. At eight thirty, when we finish swimming, I rush over to the locker room/athletic facility to change for class and eat breakfast in the dining hall there with my team. Around ten, I have my first of two or three classes of the day. After class, at one PM, I grab a quick lunch, on the way over to the athletic facility for our team lift and our second swim practice of the day. When that’s over, I usually stay in the athletic facility, heading over to the academic center to meet with my advisor and go over my workload for the week and do some homework or attend a tutor session. At five thirty PM, I head over to the dining hall to eat with my teammates. Afterwards, I either go to the library or back to the academic center to finish up studying, or else back to the dorms to unwind until around nine thirty, when I usually go to bed after some meditation or journaling. 

What aspect of your sport do you enjoy most?

The team aspect of swimming is 100% my favorite part. There is no way that we could push through the grueling workouts and bring the energy that we do to competition without the unwavering support of each other both in and out of the water. Whether we are dancing crazily around the pool deck before a race, singing at the top of our lungs in the locker room, or studying together for an exam, the love and support for one another is felt. I know I will always belong to this community of empowered, motivated women, and I am so thankful for that. 

How does science, technology, engineering and math intersect with your sport?

Swimming is an extremely technical sport. Everything from what we wear to the angle we put our hands into the water is based on precise calculations to maximize efficiency and minimize drag through the water. Our racing suits, caps, and goggles are designed with all that taken into consideration and we spend time learning about the physics at play when making changes to our technique. Also, calculating time intervals and counting laps in our heads during each practice tends to be a math challenge in itself!

If you could trade your uniform for any job for just one day, what would it be and why?

If I could, I would trade my swimsuit to be a summer camp counselor for a day. I love spending time with kids (sometimes I feel like I’m still one myself!) and getting to participate in summer camp activities, as I did growing up. I volunteered at a day camp for a few summers in high school and had a blast making friends with, entertaining, and helping all of the campers each session.  

What one piece of advice from a coach do you live and play by?

One piece of advice from a coach that has resonated with me over the years is ‘fall in love with the journey, not the destination.’ He reminded me of this constantly during a season in which I had set a lot of lofty goals for myself. Reminding me to simply have fun with my teammates each day and find satisfaction in swimming a practice well, rather than searching for those things in the far-off, potential future kept me in touch with why I fell in love with swimming to begin with. I ended up accomplishing every single goal I had set for myself that season, while also having the most fun ever. I embody this mindset in all aspects of my life, reminding myself that I can be genuine in what I choose to spend my time doing. Finding joy in what you do each day, will give you more drive and stamina to accomplish your goals than anything else could, and realizing that definitely changed the way I approached school, my relationships, and everything else. 

What’s on your pre-game (meet) playlist?

Beyoncé is definitely my go-to for behind the blocks. Really anything upbeat and hype will get me going -- DaBaby and Trippie Redd are some of my other favorites. My team also loves blasting EDM on our speakers during warm up to set the mood. 

Want to be a part of the next class of interns at Play Like a Girl? You're in luck; fall internships just went live! Apply here today.


Office Hours with Melissa Anderson

Melissa Anderson

Head of Business Innovation & Strategy, Client Group Infrastructure

AllianceBernstein

 

Never be afraid to ask questions – and be prepared to listen to the answer!

Melissa Anderson, a project management veteran, drives the successful adoption of technology solutions to expand AB’s sales and marketing team’s digital footprint, advance business process innovation, and enhance client reach globally.

 

5 Things She Can’t Live Without

Coffee: Can’t live without it! :)

Podcasts: Right now, I’m loving shows about history, folk lore, and science, but it’s such a dynamic medium that you can always find something new that fits your mood.

Beach/Ocean: I love everything about the beach and try to get there as much as I can. (Other than leaving family and friends, it was the hardest thing to let go of when I relocated from NY to Nashville in 2019.)

My iPhone Camera: I use it for so much more than pictures…I keep track of restaurants I want to try, stores I want to google, and recipes I want to make!

Family & Close Friends:  I have a short list of trusted people in my life that are more like a board of directors. They help me to bounce ideas, vent about stress and frustration, and most importantly are my biggest cheerleaders in celebrating success with me!

 


Announcing New Board Members

Play Like a Girl is pleased to announce the addition of six new members to the Board of Directors, effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023: Jessica Bliss, journalist for The Tennessean; Judith Engelsen-Daub, Vice President of Client Success Organization at GEODIS; Mon-Kisha Porter, Customer Receivables Manager at Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation; Ashlie Summer, Vice President of Operations at FLEETCOR Technologies; and, Vibhav Veldore, Sales and Marketing Director — Agriculture & Off the Road Tires (LATAM) at Bridgestone Americas Inc. Also joining the Board as an ex-officio member is Michaela Kirk, Business Development Engineer at Turner Construction. Kirk will chair the newly-established Play Like a Girl Young Professionals Board. For more information about our team, visit iplaylikeagirl.org/team.

The Board provides leadership for carrying out the Organization’s mission to advance the health and empowerment of girls and women everywhere through sport. Dr. Chevis Shannon, Director of the Surgical Center for Kids at Monroe Carroll Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, serves as chair of the 2020 Board of Directors.

More will be shared on these new Directors over the next several days. Please follow their stories on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @iplaylikeagirl.


Play Like a Girl Hosts Leading Women in Science and Tech

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Hannah Pike

615-601-1864 | [email protected]

PLAY LIKE A GIRL HOSTS LEADING WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND TECH AT STEM SUMMIT THIS WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH

Play Like a Girl connects middle school girls to women in STEM careers through STEM+ Saturday makerspace labs, lunchtime mentoring in Metro Schools and hands-on experiences

NASHVILLE, Feb. 24, 2020 -- Nashville-based nonprofit Play Like a Girl® will host #GirlsRockSTEM, it’s 10th Annual Summit to educate and empower middle school girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through mentoring and hands-on experiences. Mentors and speakers include leading women scientists like bat conservationist Kristen Lear who will be featured in #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit, a new monumental exhibit of the most women statues ever assembled in one location, at one time. This first-of-its-kind, life-sized 3D printed statue exhibit celebrating the contributions of more than 120 AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors, contemporary female STEM professionals and role models from a variety of industries, is set to debut in May.

“It is critical that our girls have role models and early, positive experiences in STEM so that they’re able to see the unlimited possibilities available to them,” said Dr. Kimberly Clay, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Play Like a Girl. “Our ability to connect girls with women in a wide range of STEM careers is essential to growing a robust and diverse talent pipeline that will drive meaningful growth in our economy both locally and nationally. And we’re so excited and thankful to have employees from local companies including AllianceBernstein, Amazon and Asurion serve as industry mentors and event volunteers.”

The 2020 STEM+ Summit on March 7 will convene 150 girls and their mothers and teachers from across Greater Nashville. Together with industry mentors, they will explore STEM careers through inspiring talks, hands-on activities and interactive makerspace workshops like coding, robotics, virtual reality and so much more. Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy will open the conference and serve as event host throughout the day. Dr. Feyi Aworunse, an optometrist at Nashville General Hospital, will deliver the keynote presentation using a series of optical illusions to engage girls in an exciting and impactful conversation about the power of vision. Also speaking at the event are U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn; Deborah Knoll, Tennessee Director of K-12 Programs & STEM Initiatives; and, Sharonese Henderson, UPS IT Solutions Provider and Board member for the Women in STEM Center at Middle Tennessee State University.

Registration for #GirlsRockSTEM is now open through March 3 for all middle school girls grades 5-8 at www.iplaylikeagirl.org. Registration includes admission to all educational sessions, breakfast, lunch, snacks and dessert as well as a celebratory dance party to commemorate Women’s History Month. Girls will also enjoy a live DJ, LUNAFEST® short films and a screening of CBS’s hot new show Mission Unstoppable, photo booths, sponsor goodies and limited edition #GirlsRockSTEM merchandise on sale at the event. A parent or adult chaperone is required to attend the event with each girl or group of up to 8 girls. Scholarships are available by calling (615) 601-1864. Wells Fargo is event sponsor.

The Play Like a Girl STEM+ Summit will be held at Middle Tennessee State University’s Student Union Center in Murfreesboro. For more information, visit www.iplaylikeagirl.org.

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ABOUT PLAY LIKE A GIRL

Play Like a Girl is a Nashville-based national 501(c)3 charitable organization founded in 2004. Our mission is to ensure that every girl reaches her full potential by providing girls ages 9-13 an opportunity—and in many cases, their only chance—to participate in sport and physical activity. We offer programs and resources designed to transform girls’ motivation into an “I am unstoppable” attitude. It is our goal to help girls everywhere find the courage to do things beyond the field of play that they never thought possible. Ultimately, we seek to harness the natural properties of sport to propel young women into competitive, male-dominated careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We believe that girls given the opportunity to play on a team become women who have the confidence to stand on their own. For more information, visit iplaylikeagirl.org, and join us on social media @iplaylikeagirl.


Ryleigh Siebert: Giving Girls a Voice and Hope for the Future

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities. Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age

Ryleigh Siebert, 11

School

Rutland Middle 

Hometown

Mt. Juliet

Favorite Sport

Boxing

Favorite STEM Subject

Mathematics

Words you live by

“I think beauty comes from knowing who you actually are. That’s real beauty to me.” —Ellen DeGenerous

Your hero 

My mom is my hero. She works super hard for my sister and me!

Ryleigh, age 11, has been boxing for just a few months. When she puts her gloves on she feels strong and confident. As she begins to hear the music in the gym and practice her drills, she becomes determined and focused. Click To Tweet

What is her superpower? Building people up and helping them feel strong and confident.

How is she potential, realized?

It’s never too early — or too late – to raise girls to be bold and courageous. That’s the story of 11 year-old Ryleigh Siebert who aspires to build a world free from gender bias, with equal voice and equal representation for girls everywhere. 

Ryleigh became a Student Ambassador at Play Like a Girl in 2019, with the goal to help give voice to girls in her school and community who don’t believe they have what it takes to succeed as athletes or scholars. Recently, she recalled her first time at a Play Like a Girl program and how much she enjoyed learning and trying new things--specifically, learning to turn failure into fearlessness.  

Because of the confidence she’s gained from her Play Like a Girl experience, Ryleigh told us she feels she can now “help change the way girls think about themselves and help them to be positive about what they can accomplish in STEM and in sports.”

Ryleigh is new to boxing which she says helps her get regular exercise while building a stronger relationship with her mother, Ashley, who introduced her to the sport. Boxing also has taught her to be more introspective. A Mt. Juliet native, she says that boxing like the female STEM role models she’s met during her time at Play Like a Girl inspired her commitment to being extra supportive of other girls her age. 

“I want girls to know they can do anything they put their minds to,” she said. “I want to help them follow their dreams and learn to never give up, and to celebrate one another. When girls come together, we are stronger and better. We are unstoppable!"

Ryleigh loves math but initially feared the very concept of coding. Then, she had the opportunity to code a fun game with the girls she met at Play Like a Girl STEM+ Camp which she believes is a distinct skill that will lead her to a job in her chosen field some day.

In the past year, Ryleigh has continued to learn more coding skills at her school as well as in STEM+ Saturday makerspace labs at Microsoft and Play Like a Girl. According to Ryleigh, coding events like these have helped to build skills she will need to be successful in high school, college, career and beyond.

“I am a nice person who likes to meet new people and make new friends. I am caring and like to help people through their troubles,” Ryleigh said. “The biggest thing that keeps me motivated is the fact that I have a little sister. She is watching.”

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Meet Kristen: Real-Life Bat Girl

Bat conservationist Kristen Lear has always rooted for the underdog, and bats are one of the biggest underdogs out there. With many misconceptions about bats, Kristen’s mission is to share the importance of these amazing animals and to show everyone just how cool they are!

When Kristen was 12, she knew she wanted to do something to help bats so she built and put up bat houses for her Girl Scout Silver Award project. That first project launched her into a career as a bat conservation scientist, working to protect bat species around the world.

Kristen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Zoology at Ohio Wesleyan University, and is currently completing her PhD in Integrative Conservation at the University of Georgia. She has led international conservation teams for endangered bats in the US, Australia, and Mexico, and leads local bat house projects in the communities in which she lives. 

Now an American Association for the Advancement of Science If/Then Ambassador and Lifetime Girl Scout, Kristen helps younger Girl Scouts and other community groups build their own bat houses to help bats in their own backyards.

Want to ask Kristen all your batty questions and learn how YOU can contribute to bat conservation? Register for Kristen’s bat house building workshop at #GirlsRockSTEM, the 2020 Play Like a Girl Summit on March 7th. In her workshop, Kristen will teach girls to build bat houses using power tools. The finished bat houses will help provide safe homes for bats in Athens, Georgia as part of the Athens Bat Connection. Kristen is excited to share her passion for bats with summit attendees.

Follow Kristen and her bat adventures on Instagram @batsforlife_kristen and Twitter @BatsForLife.


Play Like a Girl Summit Stage to Feature Danielle Breezy, Bat Conservationist Kristen Lear, a future Astronaut & More!

#GirlsRockSTEM, the 2020 Play Like a Girl Summit is fast approaching and we’ve got yet another reason why you’ll want to grab your tickets sooner than later. Tickets are on sale now! For more info about tickets, speakers and the latest news, visit our Summit page here.

Every year, the Play Like a Girl Summit brings middle school girls face to face with dozens of the most prominent names in business, sports, entertainment and beyond. This year, we’re proud to highlight some of the 125 women STEM Ambassadors, who are the face of a new campaign sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Play Like a Girl Summit stage will serve as the intersection of education and empowerment, bridging the gap between this generation’s most prominent voices and the next generation of STEM leaders. From Nashville’s own Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy and Faith Borden with the National Weather Service, to bat conservationist Kristen Lear and creative Kynisha Ducre of Google, the conversations and workshops set to take place are sure to inspire the next generation of innovators.


Roller derby skater and neuroscientist
Dr. Elizabeth Engler-Chiurazzi will make her Play Like a Girl Summit debut that’s sure to make a lasting impact and energize the crowd.


Optometrist
Dr. Feyi Aworunse will be on hand to inspire girls to visualize unlimited possibilities and bring their futures into focus for 2020 and beyond.

Award-winning software engineer Gracie Ermi, as well as Data Kind’s Chief Program Officer Afua Bruce will each share valuable gems from their remarkable journeys bringing engineering to social impact.

Electrical engineer Aisha Lowery will share the personal ups and downs of her career journey and guide girls to develop their own action plan through interactive “Failure not Fear” workshop exercises.

Disability and design activist Anaiss Arreola and Taylor Richardson, aka Astronaut StarBright, will take to the Play Like a Girl Summit stage for the first time, where they will shed light on a new wave of social and artistic activism anchored by next generation leaders.

Bat conservationist Kristen Lear will be on hand to expand on the work she’s done so far to help develop practical, equitable and meaningful solutions to bat conservation challenges around the world.

Plus, Chief Meteorologist Danielle Breezy will host the daylong conference and expo sponsored by Wells Fargo. The Summit will be streamed live online and will feature girl power music sets by DJ Tera “Jazzy T” Whitfield of 101.1 The Beat.

Additional names to be announced soon.

“This year’s Play Like a Girl Summit will feature a lineup of high-profile guests, electrifying STEM experiences and empowering talks as well as highlight inspiring girls and women who are changing the game across industries. The event will also feature an intimate one-on-one conversation with a future NASA astronaut,” said Research Neuroscientist and tech entrepreneur Elizabeth Ann Stringer who is a member of the Summit Organizing Committee. “Intergenerational programming spanning coding, robotics, aerospace and 3-D printing among other topics will provide the tools to facilitate education and growth through the sharing of real stories from real women in STEM.”  

For a full lineup of this year’s speakers and industry partners, visit www.iplaylikeagirl.org/summit.

 

 


Meet Gracie: Software Engineer Saving Our Planet

Gracie Ermi is a knitter, Seattle Seahawks fan and outdoor enthusiast—but that’s not all. In her professional life, she is a software engineer who builds technology platforms that just might help save our planet. Her work focuses on preserving ocean health and protecting endangered animals like elephants, sharks and killer whales.

Gracie earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science at Western Washington University, and has worked at Vulcan Inc. in Seattle, Washington for the last two years. Using coding and a technology called machine learning, she builds artificial intelligence programs -- training computers to do the most tedious aspects of conservation work, so that experts can focus on more important elements of their job.

As an American Association for the Advancement of Science If/Then Ambassador, Gracie shares her story as a way to inspire people, especially women and girls, to pursue computer science as an avenue to make a change in their communities and around the world. She wants to emphasize to everyone that coding is not magic; with practice, anyone can learn to do it. Plus, learning to code bursts open a whole world of financially beneficial and socially engaging opportunities.

Gracie is pumped to attend #GirlsRockSTEM, the 2020 Play Like a Girl Summit on March 7th at Middle Tennessee State University. There, she will share how she went from a middle school girl who knew she wanted to make a positive difference in the world (but had absolutely no idea what computer programming was), to a computer scientist working at an organization whose mission statement is, “Make and leave the world a better place.”

In middle school, Gracie would have never predicted she would pursue a future in technology. Now, her coding skills give her the opportunity to work on projects that 13-year-old Gracie would be incredibly inspired by.

Do you care about solving climate change? Getting every dog adopted? Making sure that everyone has enough to eat?

Gracie, alongside her friend and colleague, Afua Bruce (Chief Program Officer at DataKind), will engage with attendees at the Play Like a Girl Summit to reflect on the kind of world they want to live in. Student attendees will be empowered to envision themselves contributing to these causes and more.

Gracie and Afua will show students how gaining technology skills can be a powerful avenue for creating the change you want to see in the world. It is of massive importance that we listen to and encourage the unique and powerful ideas of girls if we want to build a future where every person, animal and plant thrives.

Follow Gracie and her amazing adventures in STEM  on Twitter @gracieermi.


Apply to Exhibit: 2020 STEM Industry Expo

March 7, 2020 | 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

MTSU Student Union Building

The Play Like a Girl Summit – Industry Expo highlights converging industries leading innovation in Nashville and across the world and engages Summit attendees in experiential STEM education and career mentoring, hosting a diverse range of forward-thinking exhibitors ranging from promising startups to established industry leaders.

Interested in being a part of the most exciting STEM exhibition in Nashville this Women’s History Month? Then look no further than the Play Like a Girl Summit – Industry Expo. Unlike similar exhibitions, the Play Like a Girl Industry Expo is rooted in industry-led activations across converging industries intersecting STEM. Each activation is staffed by two industry professionals—ideally, women. In the afternoon after the Expo closes, these women join Summit attendees for lunch and the keynote presentation and, later, serve as mentors to groups of 8 girls challenged to pitch a tech-driven solution to a social problem impacting girls and women worldwide. 

The Industry Expo is open to innovative businesses and organizations including but not limited to the following categories: startups, female founders, content creators, lifestyle technology, marketing, manufacturing, design and innovation, robotics, hardware and software, gaming, esports, security and cyber security, social impact, sports technology, VR/AR/MR, online media, health and fitness, music technology, artist services and food technology.

For more info, visit iplaylikeagirl.org/summit. If you’d like to join in on the fun, please contact us at [email protected].

APPLY TO EXHIBIT

The Industry Expo is comprised of several immersive, key components, including the Meet the Scientist Experience, STEM Program Hub and College Fair.

Meet the Scientist

Meet the Scientist draws inspiration from converging industries that span the focus of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) plus arts, research and so much more. These exhibitions showcase inventive, emerging cross-industry technology, allowing students to personally meet real-life role models in STEM and engage in hands-on activities with a business product or service through live experiments, demonstrations and book signings.

STEM Program Hub 

The STEM Program Hub features high-quality STEM education programs, a space to learn about industry-supported camps and internships, and the chance to connect with fellow attendees. Whether attendees are seeking info about educational opportunities or need a quick recharge, the Hub is the place to be.

College Fair 

Summit attendees will visit the College Fair for casual networking with students and institutional representatives from a wide range of STEM disciplines and departments at some of Tennessee’s leading non-profit colleges and universities. Participating institutions will share details about scholarships and other opportunities to support students’ career interests in STEM.

The Industry Expo will include a live DJ and projected films. Each Meet the Scientist booth includes the following equipment:

  • 2 – Plastic Contour Chairs
  • 1 – 6’L x 24”W x 30”H Skirted Table
  • 1 – Identification Sign with Company Name 


Movie Q&A: Meet 'Troop Zero' star Bella Higginbotham

In an exciting plot twist, Dr. Kim was introduced to Nashville native Bella Higginbotham, cast member of Amazon Studios' original Troop Zero, after announcing Play Like a Girl's participation in an advance screening of the eagerly anticipated film this weekend.

Set in rural 1977 Georgia, Troop Zero stars Academy Award-winners Viola Davis and Allison Janney, Mckenna Grace and Jim Gaffigan, and centers around a misfit girl’s dream of making contact with outer space. When a national competition offers her a chance at her dream, to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging relationships that last a lifetime and beyond. The endearing underdog tale also stars Mike Epps, Edi Patterson and Charlie Shotwell, and introduces Bella who plays Anne-Claire alongside Milan Ray and Johanna Colón. Troop Zero is directed by the award-winning directing team Bert & Bertie from a script by Academy Award-nominee Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild). Producers are Todd Black, Jason Blumental and Steve Tisch.

In celebration of the film's worldwide launch on Prime Video on January 17, Amazon Studios will bring an exclusive Troop Zero early viewing party to AMC Thoroughbred, located at 633 Frazier Drive in Franklin, on Saturday, January 11 at 11 a.m. Free passes are available and include the red carpet-inspired pre-party, autographs and photos with Bella, and the film screening. Each pass admits two guests and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis at the venue. Movie goers are encouraged to arrive early and must enter the auditorium together. Passes do not guarantee admission as free screenings can overbook.

Earlier this week, we did a Question & Answer session with Bella about her experience filming Troop Zero, her life on and off set and what she's working on next.

Tell me about the call. Did you read for the role of Anne-Claire or were you cast some other way?

First, we sent in a video audition for Anne-Claire and Christmas. I liked Anne-Claire better for me, and I’m glad they agreed, because Mckenna Grace is a fantastic Christmas! I got a call back for Anne-Claire in Savannah, Georgia and I met with the directors in Spring 2017. After that I was pinned for the role. (Which meant I was their first pick). It was supposed to film in the summer of 2017, but unexpected delays caused filming to be postponed. We waited about a year until we heard I was cast. I was over the moon when I got the good news! 

So who is Anne-Claire? What’s her story? What, if any, similarities do you have with the character?

Anne-Claire is a nine year old evangelist, who is sweet, shy, and a bit of an oddball. She wishes desperately to make friends, but because of her one eye, she has a bit of a hard time. I absolutely loved to play AC because of her awkward-y-shyness and sweet outlook on the world. Anne Clair and I have many differences, but we both are pretty quirky. 

Talk about a star-studded cast! Between Allison Janney and Viola Davis, there’s a lot of talent in this film. Who among them do you admire most and why? Did you have the opportunity to film with her or him? What was that like? What did you learn from them to improve your craft?

I was EXTREMELY lucky to have worked with such incredible actors and comedians. While on set, Miss Janney and Ms. Davis radiated professionalism and poise. They were both very nice and encouraging of us young performers. I soaked up… Click To Tweet It was also fun working with him because I'd previously seen his comedy shows and thought he was VERY funny. 

What was the filming experience like for Troop Zero? I’d imagine pretty different from what it was like on set for anything else you’ve done.

As a first movie/film experience it was amazing. I heard from the veterans it was different than most film sets because the atmosphere was so loving and welcoming. The directors, Bert and Bertie, both made the set as chill and fun as possible. We all had a great time filming even though it was was very, very hot in Louisiana in June! 

Have you had the chance to work with any of the younger actors previously? Was the chemistry between you and your younger cast mates those characters or did you develop your own formula?

I didn't know any of the other kids previously, but the first day we were all together, eureka! The perfect compound -- within 5 minutes, we became best friends. We have stayed great friends, and we will be forever. We see each other anytime we can, and I can't wait to see them next week at the premiere. 

How do you balance acting with school and regular kid stuff? Friends? Extracurricular? Study? 

Ha ha, that’s a good one. I’m home-schooled, so my studies are more flexible, I have a planner, and I have play dates and sleepovers like a normal kid. Honestly I’m not that different than most. Really, my extracurricular is acting!

Anything new in the works that you can share?

Last fall, I was able to participate in the reading of a new musical in development for Broadway, and I am hoping it will get funded because I would love to have a future with that show. Other than that, I’m just waiting to hear back from a few things I auditioned for.

What advice would you give to girls your age who have a desire to get into acting?

Start with seeing as much theater as you can and then start auditioning for local theaters or school plays. Yes, auditioning can be intimidating, but its worth it! If you get in to any local plays, nice! If you think its not for you, that’s ok! I’m sure there are other things that will fit your interests better. Figure out your talents, like singing, dancing, acting. Find the one, or more, you want to work on, and start lessons for those.  Stockpile some memorized monologues and songs in your repertoire. And remember, if you don't want to do something you don't have to, but if you don’t want to because your scared you’ll mess up, you should try any way or you might miss something incredible. And of course, be yourself!