La Porte City Teen Pursues Her Dream of Acting, Modeling

It’s been a busy year for 13 year old JoEll Perry and her family. The La Porte City teen with a love for drama and theatrical productions has ventured into the world of show business, having appeared in a commercial last year promoting the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She has also worked as an extra in two movies and will appear in a short film that is currently in post-production, to be released later this year. Along the way, she’s also been discovered as a model and recently signed with the Minneapolis-based Arquette Agency.
JoEll’s journey into the world of high fashion and acting began very close to home as a youngster playing various roles in a number of church plays. Bitten by the acting bug and looking for other opportunities to perform, she went to her parents, who pledged their support if auditions for a good, Christian company could be arranged. Sure enough, on the way to church one day, the family heard a commercial on the radio for an agency called Actors, Models & Talent for Christ. AMTC is a non-profit ministry dedicated to finding, preparing and launching performers into the world’s most influential mission field- entertainment.
Last March, JoEll’s successful audition for AMTC led to her participation in classes she attended in Chicago one or two weekends a month between April and November, where she learned fundamentals of acting and modeling.
In December, JoEll and her parents, Rodney and Veronica Perry, traveled to Florida for AMTC’s Winter SHINE. The ten day program was an intense one for the many actors invited to participate, as the days typically began at 7 AM and went as late as 10 PM. No stranger to hard work, JoEll found the environment stimulating. At the conclusion of the event, she was the surprise winner of the VIP Overall Model Award in the category of Age 13 and Above. She was also recognized for the effort she made throughout the program to encourage her fellow performers.
Pursuing her dream and the excitement of working as a model and actress comes with certain sacrifices, however. JoEll must be careful to avoid activities that have a higher risk of injury. Roller skating, for example, a fairly typical activity for kids her age, is not recommended for this teen actress.
The desire to work as a fashion model means JoEll’s appearance should not change dramatically from the publicity photos potential employers are looking at when deciding who to cast for a photo shoot. That means a new hair color, body piercings or any other changes in appearance cannot be made without prior permission. Because models must take very good care of their skin, exposure to the sun is discouraged, meaning trips to La Porte City’s Family Aquatic Center in the summer are few and far between. Such restrictions like these can be hard for friends to understand when they call and want JoEll to join them for a day out.
While her agent encourages her to live a healthy lifestyle, JoEll and her parents understand the demands that come with success in the entertainment industry. Work for actors and models begin very early in the day and often end late at night. What consumers see as a 30-second commercial can take a day or more to film. And it can be weeks or months after that before the finished product is seen by the public. JoEll’s success in this environment can be attributed, in part, to her educational background. As a student who is home-schooled, she is accustomed to working independently and making the most of her time in a non-traditional schedule.
As she continues to find work as a fashion model and actress, JoEll is eager to learn more about the industry. Her success at the Winter SHINE has opened another door of opportunity, as she was awarded a scholarship from the New York Academy for a three week program designed for high school students. This summer, she will participate in a course taught on the grounds of Universal Studios in Los Angeles, which will allow her to gain experience working on both sides of the camera.
As exciting as these new experiences must be, the poised teen with posture only a ballerina could appreciate, accepts her success with relative calm in a way that can best be described by her middle name- Grace. One reason for this, JoEll is quick to explain, is that for every successful audition, there are many, many rejections. Another reason is the strength upon which she can draw in the face of rejection- her faith. Regardless where her modeling and acting career take her, it’s the courage of JoEll’s convictions that matter most to her parents.
“Our hope is that through this whole process, JoEll will stay grounded in her faith. We’ve already seen there is so much temptation out there. We’ve been approached with offers we’ve declined because of how that will reflect on JoEll. We still need to glorify God and support her on that path, on that journey, for however far God allows that to go,” Veronica said.