Sophie Bolen: Professional actress from FHC

Gabi Dykema

That vacant seat next to you in class may be someone who’s out sick or has an appointment, but for the classmates of Sophie Bolen, the reason for her absence is far more extraordinary: Bolen leads a double life as an aspiring movie star.

“Sophie has always been performing in some capacity,” said Jane Bolen, Sophie’s mother. “ When she was little she would set up her Barbies and have them perform on a stage [shoebox] one by one while the rest of the Barbies clapped and cheered.  We have a big glass door and Sophie would spend a lot of time dancing and singing in front of it because she could see her reflection.”

While Mrs. Bolen has always known Sophie had a knack for drama, she never thought that it was going to turn into more than just a passion; she had always expected Sophie to follow in her footsteps and ride horses competitively. Although Sophie may have chosen the big screen over competitive equestrian, she has just returned from filming a movie that combines both her love of acting and love of horses.

“I just returned from filming Horse Camp 2: The Horse Dancer,” Sophie said. “This movie was so much fun to film and it was perfect for me. I actually am a horse girl myself; in fact, my mom is a retired Quarter Horse trainer, so acting and horses was a match made in heaven. This movie is the second movie in the Horse Camp series. It focuses on what goes on at the Black River Camp for Girls. This movie should be out in about a year. It will go straight to DVD and be in stores such as Meijer, Target, and Walmart.”      

Sophie was not first discovered by the movie industry, however. She was first discovered by FHC’s theatre director Robbin Demeester, landing a role in FHC’s production of Footloose at the age of four. The following year, she performed in Annie Get Your Gun, another FHC production. According to Sophie, her first experience on-stage was the first time her family saw the love she had for entertaining. From the young age she began theatre, she polished her acting skills with classes her mother enrolled her in and eventually found herself at an audition in Grand Rapids, making her way from the stage to the cinema.

She made her feature film debut in The Christmas Bunny at nine years old, working with famous Florence Henderson, well-known for her character Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch.

“When I got the role I honestly could not believe I was going to be in an actual movie,” Sophie began. “After that first film experience I was hooked. I have worked on many independent films and also some student films for Compass College here in Grand Rapids.  I believe in getting as much experience as possible. It’s a great way to learn, meet people and build a resume. I have since been in over 8 feature films, thirteen community theatre roles, music videos, webisodes, short films, commercials  and radio shows.”

With a rap sheet this impressive, it’s hard to believe that Bolen has any time to be a normal kid and manage her schoolwork, but with the help of her mother, whom Sophie lovingly calls her “momager,” and on-set tutors, having a double life has not necessarily meant double the stress.

Through trial and error, she has found what schooling works with her schedule, from being home schooled, to a Flex Program with half online classes and half regular classes, to finally returning this year for her first year being fully enrolled in the FHPS system since sixth grade.

While Sophie may stay humble, those close to her admire her hard work and recognize the amount of work she has put into both academics and acting to become talented at every aspect of her life.

“Sophie is a really hard worker,” Lucas Miles, producer of two films she has worked on, Rodeo Girl and Crowning Jules, comments.  “Most people don’t realize how challenging life on a film set can really be.  Through incredibly long hours and sometimes grueling conditions Sophie pushes through and somehow always manages to keep a positive attitude.”

Miles also comments on how her hard work will lead her to a long, successful future film career and how her talent has already given her opportunities to work with actors many in the industry would die for.

“Working with Sophie is great,” Miles said. “She’s an incredibly talented actor and a wonderful person. I really hope Sophie and I get to work together soon.”

Although Bolen has immense potential if she continues in her pursuit of acting, she knows that she’s still young and has her whole life ahead of her to make definitive plans. One thing she knows for sure is that she doesn’t want to go to college specifically for acting; instead, she would like to take workshops and lessons from industry professionals and keep auditioning and working to gain more experience.

“While I do love acting and performing, I am only 15 and I could be exposed to more passions in my life,” Sophie said. “I plan to continue acting in whatever venue opens up. One thing I know for sure is whatever I do I know it will be in the entertainment industry, whether that be be behind the scenes, on a stage or in front of the camera.”

Whatever Sophie finds herself doing, she has the full support and assistance of her family.

“I have always been supportive of Sophie’s acting because I know that it is more than just a job to her, it’s her passion,” Jane Bolen said. “[Her family and I] have been supportive of Sophie in her acting endeavors and love to cheer her on. I would just like to say how awesome it is to see your child’s passion and talents and find ways to let them develop them. My motto has always been to find something you absolutely love to do and do it”