Why Dallas produces so many child actors
A prolific local television and film industry and several prominent acting studios geared toward children have turned North Texas into a launchpad for young stars.
The big picture: Dozens of young actors from the Dallas area are trying to follow in the footsteps of Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato — and many are getting regular work on primetime TV, the Disney Channel and big-budget Hollywood movies.
- Both Gomez and Lovato got their starts on the locally produced "Barney & Friends" before becoming stars on the Disney Channel and then international superstars as adults.
How it works: North Texas has a large — often niche — entertainment industry that includes a network of children's theaters and a hub of faith-based productions. So North Texas children have more chances to get early acting experience than they might in other parts of the country.
- A lengthy list of acting programs, including DTV Studios and Studio 7, have also cultivated connections with talent agents and casting directors.
The latest: Davis Murphy, a 9-year-old from Frisco, recently made his film debut playing one of the neighbor kids in "A Christmas Story Christmas," a sequel to 1983's "A Christmas Story."
- Like Gomez and Lovato, Davis was coached by Cathryn Sullivan, who owns a school for child actors in Lewisville.
- Sullivan keeps a Hall of Fame listing of her students and often employs older child actors to help coach up-and-comers, she tells Axios.
- "Helping younger students understand their characters really improves my staff's understanding of the craft of acting," Sullivan says.
Reality check: To save money, "A Christmas Story Christmas" was filmed in Bulgaria. Davis and his mother, Lindsay Murphy, spent a month there in winter 2021 — away from the rest of their family.
- It snowed every day they were there and almost no one outside of the production spoke English. But Davis says it was pretty and he'd "definitely go back."
- "They have the best pancakes on the planet," Davis tells Axios. "We got them at least once a week."
What we're watching: Davis has already been in another movie he hopes will be released later this year.
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