ByKeisha Swafford, writer at Creators.co
I am a beautiful black queen and a child of God. I love writing stories and poems. Enjoy reading and watching movies!
Keisha Swafford

Who is Olivia Holt?

Olivia in Kickin' It (www.giphy.com)
Olivia in Kickin' It (www.giphy.com)

I was definitely excited to find out that a Disney Channel star, Olivia Holt, came to my hometown Alexandria, LA to film an indie movie on November 30, 2015. Olivia Holt is an actress, a singer, a competitive gymnast, and a cheerleader.

For those who are not familiar with her work, Olivia Holt is a teen actress who has co-starred in the Disney XD comedy series Kickin’ It as Kim, a sassy, kick-ass karate student in a martial arts academy who trained to be the top of her class. What impressed me most about her in this show was that she was the only girl in the class and she could go toe to toe with her co-star, Leo Howard, who is a trained martial artist in real life. She left Kickin’ It in 2014 to star in another Disney show called I Didn’t Do It, where Holt plays the brainy know-it-all who always helps her friends get out of trouble.

She starred as Veronica in the indie film called Class Rank where she played a determined young girl who will do anything to get into Yale.

What is Class Rank About?

Oswald and Veronica (www.liveinstagram.com)
Oswald and Veronica (www.liveinstagram.com)

Class Rank follows teenagers Bernard, who lives with his quirky grandfather Oswald, and Veronica, a type-A personality with Ivy League aspirations who wants to prove that she is more than just the daughter of a TV producer. When Veronica approaches Bernard to run for the Board of Education, he sees it as a chance to reform the local school system to enable him to better care for his grandfather. Veronica meanwhile plans on eliminating the class-ranking system to increase her chances of getting into Yale. While doing his best to convince the local paper’s Editor in Chief for an endorsement, Bernard sees her as a potential partner for his grandfather. As Bernard and Veronica’s fight to get what they want, the two discover the meaning of love and the importance of helping others. According to The Town Talk, Central Louisiana will actually be New Jersey in the movie.

How Did Hollywood Come to the South?

http://media.graytvinc.com/images/Sanghani.jpg
http://media.graytvinc.com/images/Sanghani.jpg

The movie is called Class Rank, which was directed by Eric Stoltz and produced by Shaun Sanghani. It was incredible to learn that Sanghani actually grew up here in Alexandria, LA. I was shocked to learn that his English teacher was Mrs. Monroe, who was also my teacher at Bolton High School! How cool is that? He remembers her best because she was a strict teacher who never let him get away with anything. Yep. Sounds just like her.

He wanted to bring a film to Alexandria and he did just that. It made me proud to be raised here. Check out the link of Sanghani on KALB News explaining why he chose Alexandria, LA to be his film location.

Class Rank Comes To Alexandria, LA!

Film crew at Kroger store (www.thetowntalk.com)
Film crew at Kroger store (www.thetowntalk.com)

I first heard about the movie through my boyfriend Joshua. He noticed something was out of the ordinary on our way to work that morning when he saw a bunch of vans downtown. Later on that night, he was coming from the Kroger grocery store after work and he claimed he saw a whole film crew and cameras set up there. I was super psyched about what he said, but I was still in disbelief. Nothing this awesome would happen in Alexandria, LA. Well, I did my own investigation into the Facebook page of our local newspaper The Town Talk and I found out that it was all true!

Filming Begins at Bolton High!

Olivia Holt and Skyler Gisondo at Bolton High
Olivia Holt and Skyler Gisondo at Bolton High

I was totally stoked and beaming with pride when they began filming scenes at my old high school, Bolton High in Alexandria, LA! This was a major deal in my small town because nothing this remarkable happens here. I couldn’t contain my excitement and jealousy as I watched those I knew post pictures on Facebook with the movie stars on set at my old high school.

Olivia Holt Joins Bolton Cheerleaders for Photo

Olivia Holt with Bolton Bear cheerleaders
Olivia Holt with Bolton Bear cheerleaders

As a fellow cheerleader, Olivia Holt couldn't resist taking a picture with the Bolton High cheerleaders. I know that they were excited!

Racing to Finish the Film!

Olivia Holt and Sylar Gisondo at Bolton High track
Olivia Holt and Sylar Gisondo at Bolton High track

It was unbelievable seeing TV stars walk where I used to run track at high school. It seemed just like yesterday I was finishing first place at the mile run. I remember running so much on that track to prepare for my track meets. Seeing them there at my high school was almost unreal.

Could This Be My Big Break?

Film crew at the entrance of Bolton High School
Film crew at the entrance of Bolton High School

I thought this was finally going to be my chance to be the Disney star I always desired to be, or at least the beginning of a blossoming acting career. I even sent my picture and a description of myself to my local newspaper, The Town Talk, to become an extra. But nothing panned out. I was really disappointed when I couldn’t be an extra in the movie because my job took too much of my time and I think I waited too late to apply. Alas, my dreams of becoming a Disney Channel star, minor as the role was, were dashed. But I was happy to see that my hometown was getting some movie news recognition as the setting of an awesome indie film!

Will Hollywood Come Back to Alexandria, LA?

Olivia and Skyler at Bolton High (thetowntalk.com)
Olivia and Skyler at Bolton High (thetowntalk.com)

According to KALB News, Olivia Holt, Kickin' It actress, enjoyed filming here by saying, “It’s a lot of fun though and making a movie here is cool. I think a lot of people are really interested and it’s fun to tell them what we’re about and what we’re doing. And we’re having a really good time and I love this area.”

Skyler Gisondo, who played James Griswold in the 2015 National Lampoon reboot, Vacation, said, “It’s a nice change man because I live in LA, so it’s nice to have the quiet, you know. I like coming to the south. I’ve worked here a couple of times. And I like the vibe quite a bit."

Raven in a Teacher Disguise (www.giphy.com)
Raven in a Teacher Disguise (www.giphy.com)

According to IMDB.com, I wanted to dance just like Raven when I found out that Olivia Holt loved the same Disney Channel shows I did when growing up! She said:

"I watched the Disney Channel all the time growing up. Lizzie McGuire was my all-time favorite. I'm pretty sure I had every piece of merchandise that involved Lizzie. And I loved That's So Raven."

I used to be ridiculously excited to watch That’s So Raven because I loved how hilarious and fashionable Raven Baxter (Raven Symone) was. I also enjoyed seeing the many disguises she wore when she had to get herself out of trouble.

Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff) was so relatable to me because she helped me prepare for middle school by teaching me how to act around boys, how to be a good friend, and how to accept myself for who I am. I loved that she broke down the fourth wall and talked to the audience through a cartoon character version of herself. At 10, I didn’t know anything about the fourth wall, but I knew that I had never seen anything like that before.

Never Give Up On Your Dreams!

Olivia and Logan (www.giphy.com)
Olivia and Logan (www.giphy.com)

As I grew older, the dream of being a Disney Channel star slowly faded and I decided I loved writing more. One day, I could be the next Shaun Sanghani. I could work behind the scenes as a screenwriter or a producer of amazing shows and movies. I figured I would rather be the brains behind the movie screen instead of the face. But in my heart, I still hold on to the hope that I could be on TV one day.

I think Class Rank is going to be such a sweet and meaningful movie. I’m just grateful that I was able to witness a time where Alexandria, LA was the location of a movie set! Hopefully, there will be more indie films filmed here! Fingers crossed! Because post-production for Class Rank will take a year to wrap up, the movie won’t come out until late 2016 or early 2017. I can’t wait to see how it all came together!

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