Local Actress In Upcoming Disney Movie

Local Actress In Upcoming Disney Movie
10 09 Color Page 15 WEB

SELBYVILLE – Area residents headed to local theaters for the debut of Disney’s “Bridge of Spies” next week might see a familiar face on the big screen.

“Bridge of Spies,” starring Tom Hanks and Amy Ryan, also features Selbyville’s own Jillian Lebling. The 9-year-old actress, a student at Worcester Preparatory School in Berlin, plays the part of Hanks’ daughter.

“I play Peggy Donovan,” Lebling said. “She’s a lot like me.”

The movie, which will start playing in local theaters Oct. 15, is the story of a lawyer — James Donovan, played by Hanks — who works to arrange a prisoner exchange to free an American pilot captured during the Cold War.

“It’s a true story,” Lebling said.

While the fourth-grader admits she had to ask her parents to explain some parts of the PG-13 movie, she’s seen it twice and liked it.

Lebling, who got her part in “Bridge of Spies” after just one audition, said this was her first movie role. Though she had a part in NBC’s “The Blacklist,” the bulk of her acting experience came from the 15 months she spent playing the role of Ivanka in the Broadway musical “Once.” That, she said, was her first real acting job.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said.

While it was a big commitment, Lebling and her mother jumped at the chance to spend some time in New York.

“We couldn’t pass the opportunity up,” Jessica Lebling said. “It was an adventure for us.”

Thanks to the support of her family and school, the young Lebling was able to perform in several shows a week while still attending Worcester Prep on a part-time basis. She’s stayed busy with acting roles ever since. She says playing a part is something she’s always enjoyed.

“I get to act like a different person,” she said. “I get to see different places and meet new people.”

And if you’re thinking her story sounds like that of Millsboro actress Quinn McColgan — also a Worcester Prep student — you’re right. It was McColgan’s mother, a longtime friend of Jessica Lebling, who first suggested Lebling take part in a “day in the life” workshop offered by a talent agency.

“She had a great time and got great reviews from all the agents,” Lebling’s mother said. “We figured we’d check it out. It’s been great.”

Lebling says she has several other projects in the works — though it’s too early to talk about them — and hopes to continue her film career.

“I think I want to be an actress,” she said. “But I’d like to learn more about the other parts of the business, too.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.