Youth Impact Report 2012: Up Next

Eleven-year-old Lilla Crawford takes a long pause when asked about the start of her career. “Well, professionally, I started when I was 7, but really I’ve been acting, singing and dancing for as long as I can remember.”

The lifetime preparation paid off in April, when Crawford beat out 5,000 young actresses for the title role in the revival of 1977 Broadway musical “Annie.”

“I wasn’t that nervous (during casting),” says Crawford, whose initial audition was followed by numerous callbacks. “I kind of forgot that all of the girls sitting next to me were auditioning for the same role.”

Crawford, a brunette, was selected as the tuner’s sole lead. (By contrast, four tykes share the title role in London’s West End musical “Matilda,” while three boys played the lead in Broadway’s “Billy Elliot.”) The Los Angeles native isn’t anxious because she has Broadway experience (she played Debbie in the closing cast of “Billy Elliot”) and has performed in 14 shows with the Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts.

“I don’t think about the fact that I will be performing in front of 2,000 people every night,” Crawford says. “I just think about how fun it’s going to be.”

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