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When Taylor Firth’s coach came across an e-mail about auditions for the remake of “Ice Castles” in their spam folder the 18-year-old competitive figure skater knew that it was an opportunity she could not pass up. The fact that Firth had zero acting experience did little to stifle her. “I sent out an audition tape,” says Firth “and for some reason they saw something in me that they liked.”
A fan of the original “Ice Castles,” Firth said she fell in love with the story all over again after getting the part. Firth plays Alexis Winston, a talented teenager training to become a professional figure skater when she loses her sight in a tragic ice-skating accident. Alexis has to find a way to redefine herself on the ice and regain perspective on her life, which she achieves with the help of the boyfriend she gave up on when she left town to train with the stars.
Firth says her first acting gig felt rather natural, despite moments of confusion and the initial nervousness of having on-screen romance with Rob Mayes, who plays hometown boyfriend Nick Peterson. A very supportive director (Oscar-nominated Donald Wrye, who also directed the original “Ice Castles”) and cast provided Firth with a lot of guidance. “Any direction I would get I was just grasping onto,” says Firth. She also cites her faith as a major source of guidance. “My faith has a huge part in it,” says Firth, “giving me the peace that I could just keep filming, and that I didn’t have to worry about stressing, because there was somebody else helping me.”
The figure-skating background Firth brought with her was an obvious necessity for both the technicalities of the film and the authenticity of the character, with whom Firth says she has a lot in common with. Alexis and Taylor both have a passion for ice-skating, both have been pulled from their small towns (Firth is from Grand Island, New York) and thrown into unfamiliar circumstances and both have dealt with relationship issues. But, it is the intense work ethic acquired from her figure-skating career that Firth was able to apply to the filmmaking process, giving her the stamina to work such long days and nights.
Although the remake follows the same plot and carries over the competitive edge that was in the original movie, Firth says the new version contains less swearing, has a lighter feel, is more realistic and has been modernized, making the 2009 version of “Ice Castles” a more family-oriented film. “Its just a wonderful family film,” states Firth. “It’s got a heartwarming story. It’s really something where you don’t have to worry about watching with your parents or your kids.”
Firth says that she would love to continue acting and would like to break into the Christian film industry, but is trying to keep a level head, is enjoying living in the moment and is excited for whatever may come her way. “It really doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I could be acting or I could be working for my dad at the jewelry store. As long as I’m doing it for the Lord and for His glory.”
Sanela Djokovic is a writer living in the Bronx
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