Six-year old Cassidy Slingsby, who makes her feature film debut as “Chloe” in The Christmas Calendar, sits with her mother Katherine. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Keating Elementary student makes feature film debut

A Keating Elementary student has booked her first feature film role. Six-year old Cassidy Slingsby is in The Christmas Calendar, about a big-city lawyer played by Laura Bell Bundy who takes over her late grandmother’s struggling bakery while being wooed by a secret admirer with an advent calendar.

Cassidy plays Chloe, the daughter of one of the leads, played by Vancouver actress Paloma Kwiatkowski.

This is Cassidy’s first feature film, but she has done commercials in the past, appearing in ads for BC Transit, Parks Canada, Bear Mountain Resort, Harbour Air and Butchart Gardens. When she was three, she and her parents were extras on Gracepoint when it was filmed in Oak Bay, but their scenes were cut out of the final episode.

She was on set of this latest project for two full days during the snow of February this year on Fort Street and in a local home.

“She had so many lines, not just lines but actions to memorize, that it was a pretty intense schedule,” said her mother, Katherine.

When she auditioned for the role, the family was in New Zealand visiting Katherine’s sister, and preparing her audition tape was hard because the number of lines required. She told her mother she did not want to do it, but by the next morning she had changed her mind. She nailed it in one take.

Katherine prefers the acting environment on the Island to Vancouver, where she said there is a lot more competition and parents can be a bit “over-aspirational”. Island jobs are smaller with lower pay, but with that comes a lot less pressure, said Katherine. Victoria is a smaller market, so the same crews and directors work on many Island projects and the family has gotten to know them.

When asked what her favourite part of shooting was, Cassidy said: “the candy tray.”

After lunch, craft services has a candy tray for the crew, but a craft services attendant was worried Cassidy wouldn’t get any because she was the only kid on set, so she made a small one just for her.

“After Cassidy forgets everything about this movie she’ll always remember the fabulous candy tray,” said Katherine.

Katherine herself does voiceover work, but her local agent, Barbara Coultish, asked if she wanted a headshot to do commercials, to which she said yes. Coultish learned that Katherine had children, so asked if they were interested in any lifestyle photo shoots as a family, and then “the kids started doing stuff on their own.”

Her eight-year old daughter Harmony was the first actor of the pair, with a speaking role in the Game of Love, a 2016 film with Heather Locklear.

Both girls were asked to audition for the role of Chloe, but Harmony said she did not want to do it, while Cassidy did.

“They’ve said no before [to roles], and I always give them the option because it’s supposed to be fun,” said Katherine.

Cassidy does musical theatre and is learning piano, but she likes typical kid stuff like Lego and riding her bike. It’s a part-time job for Cassidy, but Katherine said she will likely continue to act.

“There’s a passion there that’s pretty cool for a young kid.”

The Christmas Calendar airs on the W Network Nov. 30 at 8 p.m.

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