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Sanford teen snags major movie role
Published Tuesday, August 13, 2019
by Maria Magher, Correspondent

You don’t have to live in Hollywood or New York to find success if you’re an aspiring actor or actress. Aryn Wright-Thompson knows that.

The 16-year-old actress and Sanford native landed her first big role in a movie, the upcoming “Overcomer,” directed by the Kendrick Brothers. The movie, which is a Christian inspirational film, tells the story of Hannah Scott, played by Wright-Thompson, who was orphaned at a young age and is being raised by her grandmother. John Harrison reluctantly agrees to coach her school’s cross-country team, and Hannah is the most promising athlete on the team. The movie follows his attempts to coach her to win the biggest race of the school year, despite the odds against them both.

“My character, Hannah, she believes that both of her parents are dead, and that makes her feel like she’s lost and she doesn’t know who she’s supposed to be,” Aryn said.

Although Aryn said that she and her character don’t have much in common – “I consider her a tomboy and I’m like a girlie girl, all the way a girlie girl” – she said she does relate to Hannah’s desire to be like others and to fit in. But she realized over time that she didn’t need to fit in. She needed to be herself.

“Don’t change because people say that you’re not good enough,” she said. “Everybody has a purpose, and you’re made how you’re supposed to be. Stop trying to be somebody else; just be yourself.”

Aryn landed the role when she was just 14. She had been acting for about five years before that, and she had been in a NASCAR commercial and had a couple of roles as an extra, including in the Farrelly Brothers’ movie “The Three Stooges.” But she hadn’t had a major role.

Her agent emailed the script for “Overcomer,” and she sent in a video audition. “It was like two weeks later, and I was like, ‘Man, I really love this script, and I hope I get a callback, but I probably won’t because I had never gotten a big job.’”

But she did get a callback for a second audition. “I just felt Jesus all over me” in that audition, she said.

Aryn did another audition in which she was asked to run. The whole process took about four months, and Aryn said she cried when she got the call letting her know she had landed the lead role.

“We wanted young people to be able to identify with the character of Hannah – with her issues, with her confusion about who she is. Identity is such a big issue with teenagers especially,” said Stephen Kendrick, who wrote the script with his brother Alex, and who produced the movie. “We were blown away by Aryn’s audition. She understood the heart of Hannah, and she had us in tears immediately. We realized that God had been doing His special work in her to specifically prepare her for this role.”

“Overcomer” was shot in Columbus, Georgia. Aryn says she wants to attend Howard University to study filmmaking. She hopes to learn about directing and other aspects of movie making. She also wants to star in more movies.

For now, she wants other kids like her to know that it is possible to achieve their goals, even if they seem impossible. “I want to help kids know that they can follow their dreams – even a kid who’s from a small town who believes that they can’t do big things,” she said. “You should never take yourself for granted or make yourself small for anyone.”

“Overcomer” will be released to theaters on August 23. Visit www.overcomermovie.com to learn more.



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