Viera girl stars in “The Waitress” on Broadway Tour
Some people are just born for the spotlight — and it’s becoming very clear that 5-year-old Ella Grace Helton of Viera is one of them.
Ella Grace made her Broadway show debut in March, starring as Lulu in “The Waitress” when it stopped on tour at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando.
The adults of the Broadway company tour the country, but the role of Lulu is cast in each city where the performers stop. Ella Grace auditioned for the role locally and landed it. She starred in the speaking role in four of the eight performances, splitting the responsibility with an Orlando girl.
"Ella couldn't wait to get on stage. She was jumping up and down when she was done and talked about how much she loved the cast and didn't want to leave them,” said Lee Nessel, Ella Grace’s mother. “This must be what it feels like when you're born to do something. I'm in awe of this 30-pound pixie."
Not even in kindergarten, Ella Grace touts an acting resume and reel that adult actors would envy. She has starred in national commercials for Disney and Gerber Life Insurance, and a regional one for Bruster’s Real Ice Cream. Ella Grace has appeared in print marketing materials for Disney travel brochures, in a toy catalog and on-product packaging for pool and swimming toys.
She recently completed filming on her first short film and is booked for her second later this spring.
“People in the know of what it takes told us early on that she has that ‘it’ factor. We didn't know what that meant, but we've since seen it unfold,” Nessel said. “Modeling shoots, commercials, films, local and now Broadway-level stage productions. Either the universe is perfectly aligning or she really was born to entertain, or both.”
When she isn’t auditioning or performing, Ella Grace takes musical theater classes and private acting, singing and dancing lessons at the Viera Studio for the Performing Arts. With her mom, Ella Grace started her own small business, Ella Bella Beads, that creates custom-beaded bracelets and donates a portion of proceeds to local organizations such as The Children’s Hunger Project.
“I get asked all the time by parents interested in getting their kids into entertainment how to go about it. Just make sure the child is leading the way. Ella has brought us down this path," Nessel said.
Follow Ella Grace Helton through the site adventuresofellagrace.com or on Instagram at @adventuresofellagrace.