This is Our Story

We're the Sprayberrys and we moved to Los Angeles about four years ago to have our go at Hollywood. When we met the folks at Children In Film, they thought it would be a great idea if we documented our story. After all, our failures and successes (hopefully more the latter than the former) can be your lesson book.

So here you have it - Dylan and Ellery working through the ups and downs of being child actors - their mother and I working hard every day to ensure their success not only as actors, but also as well-adjusted members of society.

Monday, September 27, 2010


The race is off to the beautiful city of Pasadena for the screening of the true and inspiring story of the1973 Triple Crown winning horse SECRETARIAT, who to this day, has unbroken winning time records.

Upon our arrival to the theatre we are greeted by CIF Member and Actors Reporter Dharbi Jens who is interviewing this evening’s guests; she was so cute and did an excellent job! Ellery and Dylan stop and talk with fellow thespian Dharbi as the three of them have fun with their pre-screening interview.

As we find our way to see the screenplay of this incredible true story I reach back to my memory and recall the 1973 headlines and media coverage of this amazing Triple Crown feat. Such Great Spirit SECRETARIAT brought to the world of sports and in doing so touched the hearts of so many people horse fans or not!

For a history lesson in sports I recommend this galloping story of what happened to a daughter who respectfully and honorably followed her fathers dreams and after much sacrifice saddles upon monumental victory!

On our ride home Ellery, Dylan, Dana and I reviewed the film and the messages we took from it, here is what Ellery and Dylan had to say:

Ellery felt awesome when SECRETARIAT won his races; she connected with the hard work the mother put forth and her belief in her horse. Ellery was saddened by the death of her father and how much it hurt the daughter. Inspiration is what Ellery took away from the story: "work hard for what you want and believe you can do it."

Dylan took note that sacrifice is not always the worst choice and that on the way of working for what you believe in, it can be tough but rewarding when you stay with it. Dylan, like Ellery, walked away with the inspiration of going for what you want -something all of us understand as we pursue our children’s ambitious Hollywood career paths.

For Dana and I, it was an uplifting family evening of entertainment laced with lessons of life which was again inspiring to us all, lessons we are reminded and challenged with each day.

May the legend of SECRETARIAT live on and always be there for us as a reminder of what it takes to know a winner when you see one and believe and fight for what you believe in. Hey parents, sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Always Going For It!!!!


Desire + Endurance = Success

It’s March 24, 2010 and my job has come to an end, the hotel I managed was sold and I was replaced... it happens. So I jump in to help my wife Dana with running the kids to school, auditions and all the things she had primarily been taking care of for the last two years. As school let out and summer began, we decided I would take care of Dylan and Dana would handle Ellery. You know, split up the running around for auditions and all kid-related business matters.

As we continue our journey which has been going on for four years now, we go through levels of growth, and with that our kids become a bit more defined as to what type of actor they are. I'm sure a lot of showbiz families experience this. What I mean is you see what their range is and how they respond to different character roles. I will write another BLOG on that subject later on; this is a BLOG about Dylan’s success and the very hard work that came with it during the summer of 2010.

Dylan, as a rule, ends up in leading roles or as an ensemble lead or supporting lead. With these roles come big sides/scripts and more often than not tricky characters with many layers. The roles require research to really take in the entire landscape of the film and characters. In short, Dylan was fortunate in going out for many theatrical auditions this summer and many of them brought on big and tricky characters, which takes time and serious commitment. The good news is you grow as an actor with this hard work in the same way as if you had practiced baseball all summer or gymnastics and so on. The point is, our kids do get better with this expensive and time-consuming investment and there is measurable benefit in the kids' growth as actors and this is a big part of the actor's journey.

So after coming in second on a few significant roles he finally booked a fun role. Parents, let's pause and really appreciate how hard it is to book a role; if your child is booking theatrical roles, you are very lucky so please CELEBRATE!!! As your kids do, Dylan has worked so hard to get "so close;" it makes you crazy at times. We hear, "he’s not the look" or "he’s too tall,"... "oops, wrong color of hair," "he’s too much of a heartthrob," "the director didn’t connect with him." It's like we're thinking, "when will he get a break????"

Well, after much hard and excellent work, he did; he gets to fly to Vancouver for three weeks where he will work with a fun ensemble cast of kids and dogs. One of the actors is a friend of his; how cool is that?! Dylan is so very excited, and we are so very grateful and of course proud of him for booking this fun role.

Through the process for the film “SPOOKY BUDDIES,” he auditioned for three different characters and, again, finally booked one. Yes, it was a hard and relentless summer of work for Dylan, but it paid off and he will have the time of his life in Vancouver, but it didn’t come without hard work and resilience... lots of resilience!!!

Have a great school year!


Friday, September 10, 2010

INSPIRED - The Butterfly Room

OK, all child actor parents or any parent of an actor love to see their kids perform on set RIGHT!!! What an honor it is to actually work on set and eventually see oneself on TV or the big screen. This is a short story of how my little Actor Princess Ellery inspired me on set in July 2010.

Ellery was cast as a lead for a Feature Horror film titled “The Butterfly Room”. This film is being funded by the Italian Government and as you can guess the Director is Italian, super gent to work with and an excellent Director.

The film shot earlier this year for a number of weeks and locations then a few weeks ago Ellery enjoyed 3 days of pickups. And as you might have guessed most of the scenes she shot were the more intense emotional scenes. So most of the “Butterfly Room” family is back on set for a few days, the camera is rolling and we are all moving right along. The first 2 days of the pickups Dana joined Ellery on set, so not to be left out of the fun I offered to take day 3.

Day 3 - Its like the scenes build throughout the day until the final scene, which is a very intense, tricky and emotional one. There were no props or dialog from any other actor for Ellery to draw from, so it was her chops solely that had to make the scene believable. Ellery throughout the day was being her usual spunky self and having a blast working and filming. Back to the scene, Ellery comes over to me and shares with me that she isn’t sure if she can turn the fountain on, you know the TEARS. So I’m saying things like you are so talented and such a great actress, this is a walk in the park for an actress like you. I’m attempting to inspire her thus building her confidence, you must appreciate how tricky this scene really was, and I can’t wait to see the final cut.

So its time to film the scene; Ellery comes over to me and directs me to where she wants me to stand while she’s filming. She is ensuring that I’m in her sight at all times; it’s very interesting to me what makes an actor tick!

I move toward my directed mark when Ellery stops ask me to help her get to that place in her mind where she can subtext her thoughts then connect with the emotion of the scene.

So I kneel down on my knees and start to personalize the visual image I think will work for her and she likes it, we lock it in then starts for her mark. So I’m in position and Ellery is ready to shoot – ACTION!!! Ellery works through this layered scene then turns around for the end of the scene where she is beyond frightened and scared then here comes the crying, screaming for her mommy and the tears that go with it all. Cut! The entire crew is astonished at her amazing performance and I am too. Ellery totally drew me in as I found myself completely lost in the truth of the scene, I mean blown away by her work WOW!!!! The same scene is shot again for an even a closer view and Ellery does it again just as before. Once the director called out cut I watched and comforted Ellery as she came out of her emotionally shaken state. Now the director wraps Ellery compliments her many times over and eventually hands her a beautiful bouquet of flowers followed by a warm applause from everyone, Ellery was so touched and proud.

Once Ellery and I bid our farewells we jumped in our car and headed home. As we talked of the day I shared with Ellery that she cried as easy as I can breath and for her to never ever doubt her ability to become so emotionally real. As we spoke it occurred to me how inspiring it was for me to see my 9 year old daughter reach the depth she did and how very talented she really is. This day renewed my faith and belief as to why we are out here working so hard to create a career path for our children. I was truly INSPIRED by Ellery to continue our journey. You must understand that I had not been that involved over the past 2 years due to my busy work schedule, managing a large and busy hotel keeps you rolling 24x7.

In the end Ellery did excellent work and the film, which will premiere in Italy 2011, will be a great one I’m sure. I will always remember this particular scene and appreciate how much Ellery has grown as an actress since her start in the summer of 2006.

May The Force Be With You!