Top of the morning, June 8, 2014
When her third-grade teacher at Champaign's South Side Elementary asks students what they did over the summer, little Zoe Franz will have a whopper of an answer.
While she played soccer and basketball and tagged along on family bike rides around Clark Park, Zoe also rubbed elbows with some heavy hitters from Hollywood.
The spunky 8-year-old has an acting role in "Food," currently being filmed in Champaign County.
"I play a shy farm girl named Anna," Zoe said.
She doesn't have any lines, but the chance to mingle with her favorite actress — Zoe Lister-Jones — and work in the same ZIP code as Anthony Edwards, Kunal Nayyar and Griffin Dunne is beyond cool.
There's plenty good about a movie like "Food" being produced in our backyard, from an economic boost to the buzz created by sight of Danny Glover in downtown Urbana. Even better is the opportunity it affords locals like Zoe, who caught the acting bug by playing a mouse on stage in the Nutcracker.
Alerted to "Food" by Jaclyn Loewenstein, her theater teacher at Class Act in Champaign, Zoe happily volunteered to spend her summer days on the set.
I asked her if a limousine picked her up each morning.
"Unfortunately, no," she said. "But a guy did walk around holding an umbrella over me so I wouldn't get hot."
Production is scheduled to wrap up at the end of this month. And — this will please her parents Gentzy and Lori — even if a studio exec is knocked silly by Zoe's performance, she's staying put.
Asked if a move to Hollywood is imminent, Zoe said:
"Never. I'm not leaving my mommy and daddy."