Kristi Beckett, a 10th grader at St. Edward's School, kept a really big one this winter.
The blonde haired, blue-eyed aspiring actress left home and school in Vero Beach, Florida and moved to Miami where she spent three months filming Nickelodeon's upcoming brand-new show, I Am Frankie.
Kristi will make her network television debut this fall when she appears in all 20 episodes of the series, which will air in more than 140 countries. The network's confidentiality agreements prevented her from sharing the news until now.
“That was the hardest part,” Kristi’s mom, Kim Beckett, told TCPalm. “Packing up and leaving town and not being able to tell anyone. That was hard.”
Kristi got the audition and ultimately the part within a week of signing in November with Legacy Talent Group of Jacksonville.
“This was meant to be and the man upstairs had something to do with it,” Kim Beckett said.
Kristi's new agent called with the good news in December and filming began in January.
“I was over the moon excited,” Kristi said. “I was in so much shock I started to cry and immediately fell to the floor.”
The 16-year-old is no stranger to performing. She has been dancing since she was two and attended Mommy and Me ballet classes. She also sings, hosted a talk show on the local channel WWCI TV 10 and has been a part of more than 30 productions at the Riverside Children's Theatre.
In 2013, Kristi Beckett performed in a production of "Smile" at The Riverside Children's Theatre in Vero Beach. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM RIVERSIDE THEATRE)
“She’s just the nicest person and it was very clear that she had a lot of big things in her future,” said Kristi's longtime drama teacher Kevin Quillinan at Riverside. “She loves performing. She loves being here and doing the work. She’ll have the lead in one show, be part of an ensemble in another and be behind the scenes running the sound on another. She never complains.”
The television network put Kristi and her mom and the other nine cast members up in a well-appointed apartment complex with valet parking and other perks.
“You kind of have to pinch yourself. It’s like … is this real? They treat their talent amazingly well,” Kim Beckett said.
Kristi maintained her straight A average with online classes and the network’s tutors. Following strict guidelines for minors during their 10-hour days on set, the younger actors had mandatory breaks and a definitive quitting time known as "pumpkin time." While older actors sometimes were stuck on set for extended periods completing a scene, there was no wiggle room for minors.
“'Pumpkin time' is one of the great things about being a minor,” Kristi said. “Maybe the only thing.”
Behind the scenes
Kristi quickly learned to adjust her stage acting to the more subtle approach needed for television.
“The camera picks up every raised eyebrow," Kristi said.
Call times and lines were delivered to the apartment the night before, sometimes as late as midnight, leaving little time for memorization.
“It’s all short-term memory. If you ask me 20 minutes after the scene is over, I wouldn’t know them,” Kristi said.
A bunch of like-minded teenagers and late night read-throughs make for quick friendships. Since shooting wrapped in March, Kristi has stayed in daily contact with most of her castmates and is looking forward to reuniting with them at next year's Kid's Choice Awards, the annual awards show hosted by Nickelodeon.
Kim Beckett, who was not allowed on the 17,000-square -foot set but watched on a monitor from a nearby room, said she was surprised to learn they do not film episodes or even scenes sequentially.
“I was amazed by the number of takes it takes for one scene and the number of hair and makeup retouches the actresses had,” she said.
Although Kristi is as excited as any teenager would be about her first major television role, her heart is with live theater and her dream is Broadway. Her tentative plans to study musical theater at the University of North Carolina might have to wait.
‘My husband and I believe she has to pursue her dreams and follow her passion. If she wants to put off college, we’re fine with that,” Kim Beckett said.
The show, about a teenager who is a secret, experimental android, was originally produced as Yo Soy Franky in Colombia by Nickelodeon Latin America. Yo Soy Franky was very well received and network executives are anticipating the same success for the English language version. A premiere date has not been released.
More Nick: Cast Of Nickelodeon's Brand-New Futuristic Drama "I Am Frankie" Announced!
Additional source: Wikipedia.
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