Could Rachel Shrader Be the Next American Girl?

Rachel Shrader Photo: Photo by Hannah Shrader

Earlier this week, we interviewed the preadolescent girls (and their mothers) who lined up at the American Girl Store on 49th Street and Fifth Avenue for the chance to win a role in the upcoming American Girl movie, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mystery. ("My mom told me that I should look younger, because they're looking for younger kids," said one sad-eyed girl.) Now, 11-year-old Rachel Shrader, who came 300 miles from Fredericksburg, Virginia, to line up at 6 a.m., is inching closer to a role. We talked to the home-schooled fifth-grader as she waited for a fourth callback.

What was the audition like?
We had to go into a room at the American Girl store and study our lines. There were about twenty of us who were the finalists from around the country, like Colorado, Orlando, Pennsylvania.

Were you nervous?
Yes, I went in alone. No one noticed, but I picked my cuticles, which is what I do when I’m nervous.

What role did you try out for?
I was trying out for Ruthie, but one of the casting directors came up to me and said, "You look like Florence," and she gave me the script. Florence is the younger sister. She wants to get into this club, but every time she tries, something gets messed up. I identify with her because I’m a younger sister, and I know what it’s like when stuff keeps getting in your way.

This movie is about the Great Depression. Do you know what that is?
It was in the thirties, and banks took away people’s money, furniture, houses, and businesses.

How do you feel right now?
I’m anxious. If I don’t make it, I’ll be disappointed, but I won’t break down totally. But if I do make it, I have to be in Toronto by May 29 for filming. It would be such an overload, I might freak out, which I do sometimes. Other times I just go with the flow.

Do you think you have a chance?
Yes and no. Some of the girls had amazing expression that I don’t think I can beat. But I was the only light blonde. —Susan Avery