By MIKE CHAIKEN
When the Jan. 11 episode of the CBS hit show “Blue Bloods” with Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg aired, central Connecticut residents may have seen a familiar face on the screen.
Abigail Friend, a 6-year-old from Connecticut, and the reigning Little Miss Sunshine Southington, appeared in the episode “Front Page News.”
Abigail’s mother, Alina, explained her daughter played “Emma,” a daughter of the victim.
Abigail, who attends Derynoski School in Southington, does appear briefly in the preview clip for the show at CBS.com. “She is only in one scene and even a minute is still a moment of being a movie star and not many children have this opportunity,” said Alina.
Alina said Abigail got the opportunity because she “belongs to a few casting sites, a couple of which were recommended/ required by her manager. She receives notifications with available roles matching her profile. We then decide if it is something we want her to be a part of or audition for. There is no guarantee that if she gets submitted for a certain role she’ll get it. But there is a chance. If the producers like what they see, including her resume, they will then contact us with more details.”
In this particular case, for “`Blue Bloods,’ ‘Front Page News’ was exactly one of those (roles). We received a call saying that the director loved Abigail and would like her to work on a specific day if she was still available. Abigail was so excited.”
“Blue Bloods” wasn’t the first dramatic experience for Abigail.
Abigail played a student in a library with a handful of other kids in a movie called “The 30 Year Old Bris” with Chris Elliot (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “How I Met Your Mother”). Alina said, “It is not out yet and I’m not sure of the exact release date. We can’t wait to see that, also.”
Abigail was a bit under the weather on the day of shooting for “Blue Bloods,” Alina said, but her daughter was a trooper about it all the same.
“She was just getting over pneumonia and still on antibiotics so I told her it was her choice: we can go to New York City or we can wait for the next opportunity. Her health is more important,” said Alina. “But she was determined to go. Again, I told her that if at any point in time she’s not feeling up to it, we’ll excuse ourselves and go back home. No, Abigail wanted to do it.”
As for the experience on set, said Alina. “Well, I woke her up at 2:30 a.m. to catch the 4:11 a.m. train and off we went. She was so psyched that she didn’t even fall asleep on the train to NYC. We were on site an hour early so Abigail took a 30 minute nap.”
“At the exact call time she was shown to her trailer room with her name on it, right next door to her stage brother’s room,” said Alina. “She felt like a movie star and said, ‘Mommy. I love it. I think I’ll make it through and will go to Hollywood. and then to Paris.’”
At the taping, Alina said, “A young man came over to her room to ask if we needed any assistance and dropped off lots of paperwork that had to be filled out. A while later, the costume and wardrobe lady came in to decide on what she’d be wearing in the show. (We) got that all squared away and a hair stylist did her hair. We were then brought up to the filming site.”
Once on the set, Alina said Abigail was on her own.
“Abigail had to do it all without me. I was in the same room but not near her. I don’t think she even saw me. There had to be like a hundred people there between the cast and the crew. I never knew it takes that many people to film a scene.”
When it was over, said Alina, “Abigail absolutely loved it. She felt ‘at home’ and was saddened when we had to leave. The director was extremely impressed with how both of the kids (the other being her on-screen brother) did. They thought it was going to take many hours to get it perfect. They wrapped it up in just an hour.”
“All of the cast/crew members of ‘Blue Bloods’ completely exceeded our expectations,” said Alina. “What a great bunch of people. Kudos to them all.”
The experience stoked Abigail’s thirst for more opportunities like “Blue Bloods,” said Alina. “The whole way home Abigail kept asking, ‘Mommy, when can we go back and film some more? Can we do it tomorrow… next weekend? Please. It makes me feel super happy inside when I am in front of the camera.”
“She completely forgot that she only had four hours of sleep the night before, that she was just getting over pneumonia, or that she was in the hospital just two days before,” said Alina.
As for what’s next for the 6-year-old, Alina said, “Abigail has a couple of auditions coming up. We can’t talk about the movies as they are in pre-production stage at this time. No major roles are scheduled right now but she’s only 6 and has a lifetime of opportunities in front of her.”
But they are opportunities the family is ready to make happen, said Alina. “It is very hard for her father and I to balance Abigail’s frequent trips to NYC or Boston, dancing lessons, religion classes, since our schedules are so hectic. We both work full-time and go to school part-time. We are very thankful for Abigail’s grandparents who help a whole lot as well as her brother, Paul who is a college student himself, also takes his time to babysit and make sure her homework is done and her books are read on the days I am at school and her dad’s at work.”
“But it seems like it is going to get a lot crazier,” said Alina.
And, Alina said, her daughter sees nothing but great success ahead of her. “Abigail believes that someday she will become a fashionista movie star.”
CBS.com airs full episodes of “Blue Bloods” on-line so if you missed “Front Page News” when it aired Jan. 11, you can catch it at the network’s website.
By MIKE CHAIKEN