AMONG the stars treading the red carpet tonight for the premiere of the long-awaited Les Miserables movie, will be a Shenfield schoolgirl who was handpicked from hundreds of hopefuls to play a dream role.
A few months ago Natalya Angel-Wallace, from Worrin Road, had no experience of acting at all, but now she can boast sharing a cinema screen with superstars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.
In July, Natalya, who attends Shenfield St Marys School, in Hall Lane, completed a fortnight's filming at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.
She played Young Eponine, the spoilt offspring of the comically bawdy Thenadiers, portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter in a film version of the classic musical.
Such was the impression made by the ten-year-old starlet, that Ali G actor Baron Cohen implored director Tom Hooper to add her into more scenes, including the riotous anthem "Master of the House".
When asked how she felt after landing a part in the £41 million flick – based on the longest running West End musical in history – she cheekily replied: "Well I could hardly say no, could I?"
Young Eponine is a spoilt brat who provides a contrast to Young Cosette, a girl also in the care of the inn-keeping Thenadiers who is ill-treated.
The plot of the musical – based on the book by Victor Hugo – is set in France in the early 19th century and centres around the life of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) a super-strong peasant, who turns to crime out of desperation and then ventures upon a quest for redemption.
Since filming "Les Mis" Natalya has auditioned for the starring role in another film, although she is under strict orders to stay tightlipped about the details.
Her journey onto the big screen began just seven months ago when she followed in the footsteps of her older sister Aria, 15, by joining Sylvia Young Theatre School, in London – where past students include Spice Girl Emma Bunton and Frances Ruffelle, who played Eponine in the original London cast of Les Miserables in 1985. After landing a place on the school's talent agency, the auditions began coming in and within weeks Les Mis director Hooper and theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh came knocking.
Natalya described the first time she met her co-star parents on set.
"It was very exciting," she said.
"Helena got down on her knees and said, 'you must be Young Eponine' and she told me she was looking forward to working with me."
She added: "After a while she was calling me 'Nats' and said I was her little darling."
Natalya recalled how Sacha Baron Cohen took her to one side to offer some advice about life in show business.
"Sacha told me 'it's nice to be important, but it's important to be nice, and do not ever forget that'.
"I feel really lucky to have done this and I wouldn't ever like that luck to stop.
"One day I would like to be a really big actress like Helena Bonham-Carter."