Some Columbus middle school students got a taste of Hollywood, and they liked it.
In August, Carrie Paris, the owner of Performance Dance Centre, saw a notice for an audition in Atlanta. She told her students about it, and six girls decided to go to the audition.
It was just after school had started, and many of her students were already busy, Paris said.
But Nailah Strother, 12, a seventh-grader, and Olivia Gauthier, 14, an eighth-grader, both at Arnold Middle School; Alishia Chevalier, 14, an eighth-grader at Blackmon Road Middle School; Victoria Laymon and Hallie Richardson, both 13 and in the eighth grade at Richards Middle School; and Jackie Kent, 12, a seventh-grader at East Columbus Magnet School, went to the audition.
"They were looking for 'real' girls," Paris said. "They didn't want actors, though our girls do a lot of things at the Springer Opera House."
Big Picture Casting was looking for girls ages 10-15, which cut out half of the students at Paris' dance studio.
"The Springer background came into play," because some of the acting skills they learned at the Springer Theater Academy were used, she said.
The "Lucky Six," as they have become to be known as, did a short dance number that they learned while waiting to be interviewed.
"It was kind of nerve-wracking, but it was something new and exciting to do something like that," Olivia said.
Hallie said after waiting, they were called in, had their pictures taken and did brief interviews.
Then the girls were dismissed and came back to Columbus.
A few days later, Paris called them into her office.
When the girls saw her solemn face, they said their hearts sank.
And then Paris broke out a wide smile and asked if they were ready to take a day off from school.
A minute later, they realized what she had said.
"I tricked them," Paris admitted.
Even though they did perform a dance in the audition, they were not asked to dance for the commercial.
Other children, who were chosen, did three other commercials. The Lucky Six's commercial is aimed at the fall, so they were photographed in a pumpkin patch. The other children did commercials for winter, spring and summer.
In the pumpkin patch, which was filled with fake pumpkins, the girls had to express happiness and having fun, Victoria said.
And even though the pumpkins were fake, the field was real with grasses and plants, which made Nailah begin sneezing and coughing.
During the commercial shoot in Serenbe, just outside Atlanta, the girls "were treated like employees," Paris said. "Disney knows how to treat you."
Indeed, they were employed by the Disney Co. and received a check for $750, which they divided.
"We used (the money) for different things," Nailah said.
They were thrilled to be in hair and makeup chairs. They even had a wardrobe mistress dress them.
Paris said she has still not been told when to expect to see the commercial, but since the Columbus group is in the fall commercial, she expects to see it soon.
"I have a 3-year-old, so I watch a lot of the Disney Channel," Paris said.
The commercial will be seen before and after Disney shows.