An Eastbourne schoolgirl who has shot to fame after being picked to play a leading role in the new film Les Miserables is keeping her feet firmly on the ground.
Nigel Allen said his 10-year-old daughter Isabelle had taken the life-changing events of late in her stride after she was picked to play the young Cosette in the big budget cinema release.
The Moira House School pupil, known as Izzy, was picked for the role after her talent was spotted when she played the lame boy in the Piper of Hamelin during a school production. Jeremy Taylor, who heads the National Youth Music Theatre and was directing the show in Eastbourne, was bowled over after seeing her sing a solo.
Mr Allen said Mr Taylor told them he was aware that Les Miserables was looking to cast someone as Young Cosette in the film. Mr Taylor then contacted child agent Gaynor Shaw and within 24 hours Isabelle was facing her first audition for the film, which has received nine nominations for this year’s BAFTAs.
Mr Allen said, “A couple of weeks went past and she got about four callbacks and at that stage we were starting to realise that it was getting serious.”
Isabelle, who was picked from thousands of young girls to star in the film alongside Hollywood heavyweights Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried, then faced a series of further auditions.
The penultimate one was with theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh who watched Isabelle sing Castle On A Cloud and her final audition was with the film’s director Tom Hooper.
Weeks passed until Gaynor called the excited schoolgirl – who lives with her dad, mum Elaine and 15-year-old sister Amelia – and went through the list for Les Miserables and read out her name next to the role of young Cosette.
Mr Allen said, “She jumped up and down on her bed and looked at me in bewilderment. She couldn’t understand what was happening, there were tears and laughter, followed by a celebration.”
Following this the 59-year-old received a call in March to ask for his daughter to get to Pinewood Studios as soon as possible for her first rehearsal with Helena Bonham-Carter.
Mr Allen said his youngest daughter, who had previously said she wanted to be on the West End, has previously competed in the Eastbourne Arts Festival in ballet, tap, modern, character dancing and national.
As well as rubbing shoulders with some big names, her spell with stardom has seen her appear on TV, in newspapers and to add to all that her face has been seen all around the world after she became the film’s poster girl.
But despite all this Mr Allen says his youngest daughter has remained grounded.
He said, “We’ve learnt a lot about her. It’s been a real test of her character but she is a down to earth, mature little girl. She enjoyed going back to school this term and catching up with mates, she doesn’t see herself as anything special.
“Her teachers say the same thing as well that she’s been tremendously grounded. Her school mates sometimes ask her questions and one or two of them has been to see her in the theatre.
“I think she would quite like more film roles and do it all over again. She’s at the theatre until March doing Les Miserables. When she’s finished in March we will see what comes along. She wants her future to be in this industry – whether it’s film, stage or TV remains to be seen.”
The talented youngster has been well supported by her proud family and her step-brother Daniel, 30, has been looking after her Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Mr Allen, who said his daughter has been happy to carry out interviews on her own, added, “As a family we have shared responsibility in making sure she is comfortable and has nothing to worry about.”