December 20, 2017
ELMIRA, NY (WENY) -- One young lady from the Twin Tiers is making her debut this holiday season in, not one, but two major motion pictures.
"Basically I've always just been this shy girl from Elmira, New York and my mom was like, I want to raise your confidence."
11-year-old Austyn Johnson had already been a full time ballerina when her mom, Jackie, was able to get her involved with a production company to explore acting.
Austyn soon made it to Broadway, starring in Matilda the Musical. During that time, a chance to play Caroline Barnum in an upcoming motion picture starring Hugh Jackman kept popping up.
"And next thing you know, I get it! And Matilda lets us out and it just all worked out perfectly and everything was just amazing." Austyn says.
"The Greatest Showman" is an original musical which tells the story of P.T. Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman, and co-staring Michelle Williams. Austyn plays the role of Hugh Jackman's character's daughter, Caroline Barnum.
"Hugh and Michelle, they were our movie parents and they were so nice! We spent our whole day playing games and, like when we were filming it wasn't even like we were filming. We were just having fun and being ourselves," she says.
While Austyn explains there were countless memories from her time in production, one special moment stands out.
"Hugh actually brought in the real Wolverine claws! And they were in this fancy briefcase just for the claws and in the briefcase they were engraved to fit them perfectly and so we got to put them on and we were like 'Grrr'" she says with a fierce Wolverine-like look.
Austyn's career didn't stop there. She's also in a bit of a smaller role, playing Tom Hank's daughter in the new Steven Spielberg movie, "The Post."
"I loved working with him because he wanted everything to be real. He wanted you to be you and he wanted it to be real. He kind of just threw lines in there one at a time, like hey can you bring this up somehow or say this - just see how it goes!"
And this rising star is proud to be representing Elmira on the silver screen.
"A lot of people here doubted me and said, 'Oh that's too unreasonable, you really think you can be in a movie or be on Broadway'...and a lot of people say that to others who want to be an astronaut or something; but just because you're from a small town doesn't mean that you have small possibilities," Austyn says confidently.
You can see Austyn's performance in "The Greatest Showman" which is now playing at the Regal Cinemas at the Arnot Mall.
"The Post" will premiere in January.