When Skyler Day, 14, landed her first feature role several years ago in the family film, “The Adventures of Ociee Nash,” she knew it was her big break.  Not only did she get to work with Ty Pennington (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) and Keith Carradine ("Into the West") – who became a bit of a mentor – she also learned lots of movie lingo, like “kill the baby” (cut the sound) and “martini” (the last scene of the day).  Now, the young star gets to see her film in video stores across the country.

Having met a talent agent during a chance encounter at the age of six, Skyler had five years of theatrical experience when she auditioned for the lead role in “Ociee Nash.”  And, while filmmakers Kristen and Amy McGary would eventually interview more than 300 young girls for the part, searching from coast to coast, they both agreed that Skyler had been perfect all along.

Based on the book, “A Flower Grows on Charlotte Street” by Milam McGraw Propst, “Ociee Nash” tells the turn-of-the-century story of a young girl from rural Mississippi who, after the death of her mother, goes to live with her aunt in the big city of Asheville, N.C.  At first, Ociee is dismayed, especially when she has to trade in her beloved dungarees for dresses.  But soon, Ociee encounters a host of interesting people – everyone from Wilbur and Orville Wright, Nellie Bly and the young Harry Vanderbilt to the President of the United States, William McKinley – who will change her life.

Crosswalk recently spoke with Skyler and her mother Kelly Day, both committed Christians, about what it’s like for Skyler to act in her first film role, and how things have changed since they moved to Los Angeles to pursue Skyler’s dream of becoming a leading lady.

Annabelle Robertson:  Tell me a little about how you got the lead role in “Ociee Nash,” and what it was like making the film. 

Skyler Day:  This is my first and only film, so far.  The other films I did were short films.  I loved it, but at first it was really hard.  We had to wake up early and work late, and it was so hot at the farm.  Oh my gosh, it was like 115 degrees!  Finally, they brought a portable air conditioning unit, and I started to get the hang of it.  Keith Carradine helped me memorize my lines and practiced with me.  

Annabelle:  The film just came out on DVD and video, but it premiered in June of 2003 at the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta, just like “Gone With the Wind” did in 1939.  What was that like for you?

Skyler:  The premiere was awesome – the highlight of my life.  They closed down Peachtree Street and ran a red carpet from across the street.  Seeing myself on the screen was very weird, but very cool, too.  I wanted to wait [to see it] because I wanted it to be a surprise.  I was thinking of all the things I would have done differently, though.

Annabelle:  Tell us a little about  the difference between theatre and film.

Skyler:  With theatre, you have to be very animated, so I had to bring it down, which was hard, because I’m very animated.  It was easier memorizing my lines on the movie set, though, because we’d stop to set up the lights for hours, and I could just memorize a little bit at a time.  Each day, they’d give me my lines for the next day, and I rehearsed in the shower with my mom.  But mostly I needed sleep.