How did you get into acting? What inspired you to become an actor?
Everything happened easily, like timing was on my side. I was always a dedicated dancer and did solos to raise my confidence. After I won nationals in California, my mom finally got me into a musical theater show in NYC that really changed my life. When I did the show, a bunch of people, like the director of the show and parents of the other kids, kept telling me that I should audition for Matilda, that I’d make a perfect Amanda Thripp. There was an open call audition like a month later, so we drove to NYC and I got the part, as Amanda Thripp. It was my first audition, so it was the greatest surprise of my life.

What was your first ever role? What did you learn from that role and how have you applied it to future project?
My first role was Amanda Thripp in Matilda, so that role totally prepared me for my role as Caroline Barnum in The Greatest Showman. I went straight from a Broadway show to a musical!

Tell us a little about The Greatest Showman. In your own words, what is the movie about?
It is about P.T. Barnum being a loving dad and husband. He is poor and wants to give his wife and kids a life like he promised, that’s rich and perfect. But he gets too caught up in money and fame, forgetting what is important. It’s an amazing movie with insane choreography, singing, and a touching story!

Can you describe the movie in three words?
Upbeat! Heartwarming! Magical!

What was the auditioning process like for you? How did this role come about?
It all happened really fast. We saw the audition breakdown pop up for a long time. We finally got asked to send videos of me dancing and they loved it. That’s when I got an audition. I had to prepare a song and learn two scenes. My mom was shocked when I was on the phone with my manager, screaming “I got the part!” and not a callback. It just happened so fast and I wanted it so bad. I mean it was a musical!!!

What drew you to The Greatest Showman to take on the project?
It was a part exactly like me. Caroline Barnum loved her father and was an aspiring ballerina. I really related to the part, making it a lot easier for my first movie.

Tell us about your character Caroline and the role she plays in the development of the story.
Caroline is a ballerina that loves her family. I see her as a little embarrassed by her dad’s show and she is hurt when he can’t be there with his family. She loves him a lot. It was a great part to play.

What are you most excited about with the release of the movie?
I’m so excited for all of my friends and family to see what I was working so hard for. I know they have been so supportive and so proud of me, so it’s nice to see them get to watch the finished product!

Why should people see The Greatest Showman?
Because I’m in it! I’m just kidding, it’s a beautiful movie with amazing choreography. You’ll want clap, sing, dance, and jump out of your seat. You’ll leave the theater smiling!

Any future projects you can share that you’re working on?
I have a very small role in Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” that opens in January. I’m a small part, but it’s a huge film with an awesome cast. I also did an episode of “Kevin Can Wait” that should air in January too. Other than that, I’m going to keep dancing, playing the piano, and auditioning. Waiting for another great film like The Greatest Showman!

Catch Austyn in The Greatest Showman  – in theatres now!

 

PHOTOS NINA DUNCAN
INTERVIEW ANNA ZHANG

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