I’m ready for my close-up, Eliza tells wish granters with her Kit Kittredge American Girl® doll in hand.
When she learned of the first American Girl feature film casting auditions, this 6-year-old girl who loved the story’s main character – Kit Kittredge a brave girl who faces the challenge of adversity and helps her family during the Great Depression – Eliza knew she had to participate.
Due to Eliza’s struggle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – a life-threatening medical condition –she needed a courageous inspiration. So Make-A-Wish® volunteers stepped into action.
Abigail Breslin, the star of the Kit Kittredge film, surprised Eliza by calling personally to let offer Eliza her first acting job.
Eliza takes off to Toronto with her parents to start filming.
“[The trip to Toronto for filming] was the first trip that was just for fun and just the three of us,” Eliza’s mom, Kari, says. “It was the first trip [my husband and I] didn’t have to worry about anything.”
At the movie set, Eliza takes a look her named displayed on her trailer. She goes to wardrobe and chooses the costume for her character – “a hobo girl” then reluctantly lets make-up artists make her face look dirty for the part.
Then, she watches the film stars, Breslin, Chris O’Donnell, Julia Ormond and Willow Smith, rehearse a scene. Now it’s her chance in front of the camera as they film the Thanksgiving dinner table scene. Shy at first, Eliza stays brave and follows her instruction from the director closely.
With a close-up shot of Eliza – that appears in the finished movie – filming wraps up for the day. The cast and crew then surprise Eliza with an American Girl Kit doll autographed by Breslin along with several other American Girl goodies.
But time with her American Girl friends isn’t over.
She reunites with them at the June 2008 “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl” Hollywood premiere, where she is invited to walk the red carpet.
“She had the hugest smile when she saw herself on screen,” Kari says. “Of course, I cried.”
Eliza and her family have an extra reason to celebrate though: Eliza finished her leukemia treatments one month before. Her Make-A-Wish experience gave her the strength to keep fighting.
When she returns home to North Carolina, Eliza has another premiere of her own. A movie theater hosts a special screening, followed by Tea for Three – a fundraiser tea party for moms, daughters and their dolls. The event, with a raffle and auction, raised more than $12,000 to grant other kid’s wishes. Eliza and her family plan to make Tea for Three an annual event to help share the power of a wish®.
Make-A-Wish thanks American Girl and Mattel for their continued support. Together, we have been granting wish kids’ incredible American Girl wishes for more than ten years!