GROWING UP SMITH
Release Date: February 3 in select cities; February 10 in additional cities
Director: Frank Lotito
Cast: Jason Lee, Anjul Nigam, Brighton Sharbino, Hilarie Burton, Poorna Jagannathan, Samrat Chakrabarti, and introducing Roni Akurati
Official Site: http://growingupsmithmovie.com/

“Growing Up Smith” is the feel-good, coming-of-age story of Smith, a 10-year-old boy from India growing up in small town America in 1979. As the boy’s family tries to straddle the line between embracing the American dream and preserving their Indian heritage, Smith sneaks out for a taste of Kentucky Fried Chicken, dons a “Saturday Night Fever” costume, and contends with his parents as they send him to school with a yellow squash instead of a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. And as Smith falls head over heels in love with (the girl next door) Amy, he finds in Amy’s father, Butch, the all-American cowboy he wishes his own father could be. But alas, when Smith goes on a hunting adventure with Butch, Smith’s father, Bhaaskar, fears Smith will lose any hope of remaining a respectable Indian boy and banishes him back to India. 19 years later, Smith will return to America, back to a place he once called home.

The 14-year-old, Indian-American actor Roni Akurati from Lake Zurich, Illinois (northwestern suburb of Chicago) makes his feature film debut playing the title role in the award-winning comedy. The young actor sat down to talk about his new role.

How did you land the role of Smith in this film?

I was actually in India at the time Smith was being cast, so I had to do Skype calls with the producers and the director. After several times of auditioning through Skype, I went to L.A. for a screen test with Brighton Sharbino who plays Amy. That was the last audition before I found out I got the role.

What was it like working on set and performing with the other cast members?

It was a great experience working on the film. I had lots of fun, and I also learned a lot about how films are made.

How did your stage work in Chicago prepare you for acting in a feature film?

My stage work in Chicago is when I first started acting and is where I learned acting, and so it helped me a lot.

Any funny moments during production that you’d like to share?

The set was always fun; we would always be making jokes and making each other laugh all the time.

What kind of acting projects would you like to tackle in the future?

Any acting project would be fine by me. But I really like comedies and I would like to do more of those.

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