Merit Leighton stars in ‘A Tiger’s Tale’
Exclusive Interview by Michael Aaron Gallagher
When Merit Leighton was a little girl, she dreamed of one day becoming an actress. She imagined what it would be like to star on her favorite children’s show, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman. But she wasn’t sure how to make her Hollywood dreams come true.
Merit’s father patiently explained to her that when the time was right, she would figure it out. As luck would have it, her mother (who is a professional photographer) received a call from a manager asking to represent one of the models she had photographed. It was Merit.
Soon, Merit was leaving her first audition with tears in her eyes. She recalls her mother saying, “Oh, no, what happened?”
“It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Merit replied. “I loved it, I loved it.”
Now, at 11 years old, Merit Leighton is a multi-talented, rising young actress, singer and model, whose impressive work both in front of the camera and in the recording studio is garnering the attention of some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
She has appeared in numerous print and television commercials for major brand names, including Six Flags, Pop Tarts, Purina, Target, Kmart and Matel (Barbie/American Girl). She has also had a recurring guest-starring role as Lucinda the Witch in Disney Junior’s Sofia the First and had the opportunity to work with Greg Grunberg (ALIAS), Ariel Winter (Modern Family) and many other talented stars.
In a recent interview with StayFamous.Net, Merit talked about her exciting new role as the popular girl, Doreen Portman in the movie “A Tiger’s Tale,” available on DVD May 13.
“A Tiger’s Tale is a movie about a little baby tiger that goes in this boy’s backpack and he accidentally takes it home.” Merit said. “He opens the backpack and there’s a tiger inside and he freaks out. He knows that it’s illegal to keep the tiger so he tries to take it back.”
Of course, returning the tiger doesn’t go as planned, and that’s where the adventure begins.
“My favorite scene is the one where the bullies get confronted by this giant tiger,” Merit said. “And they completely freak out because there’s a tiger like five feet away from them and they run away.”
From llamas and wolves to tortoises and tigers, there was no shortage of animals on the set of A Tiger’s Tale. But one of Merit’s favorite memories was having the chance to feed one of the baby tigers.
“It was a dream come true meeting those tigers,” she said. “They were so cuddly and adorable.”
In addition to acting, Merit also enjoys spending time with her friends (including fellow actors Isabella Acres, Diamond White, Ben Stockham and Auggie Maturo). She also enjoys anime, watching her favorite show Once Upon a Time, and hoolahooping.
“I love to hoop dance,” Merit said. “It’s not just hoolahooping, moving your hips back and forth, but you do special dance moves and you do it to music. It’s really fun.”
She is also committed to protecting the environment and making a positive difference through her work with the Plastic Patrol, which she promotes along with her younger sister, actress Marlowe Peyton.
“The plastic patrol is a website (www.theplasticpatrol.org) and a foundation to try to help the gyres of the pacific ocean and all the oceans to get cleaned up,” Merit said.
In oceans, a gyre is a system of rotating currents that can trap garbage and other debris. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (also known as the Pacific trash vortex) is a gyre in the Pacific Ocean where plastics and chemical sludge have collected for decades.
“There’s so much plastic just adding every day into that gyre,” Merit said. “And before we know it, we’ll start getting the chemicals from the plastic inside of our food.”
Merit explained that the microscopic pieces of plastic, which are broken down into smaller polymers and chemicals, are consumed by small organisms in the food chain, like plankton.
“The small fish eat the plankton, and then the bigger fish eat the little fish, and then the bigger fish eat the medium sized fish, and then we eat them, Merit said. “That means that we’re eating plastic, and that’s not okay.”
Merit explained that kids can make a difference.
“They’re not just one in a million,” Merit said. “They can help by using reusable bags or not using plastic straws and bringing your own cup to a restaurant and not getting that McDonald’s toy that comes with your meal, just say no toy please… it’s the little things that count.”
Whether she is entertaining audiences in front of the camera, or educating children about taking care of the environment, Merit Leighton is an inspirational young role model.
There is no doubt, with her charisma and charm, Merit has a bright future ahead of her in television and film.
Merit’s latest movie, A Tiger’s Tale is available on DVD at Walmart and Target May 13. It will also be available at Redbox locations in June.
Merit Leighton stars in ‘A Tiger’s Tale’
Copyright 2014 by Michael Aaron Gallagher
Photography courtesy of Suzette Troche Stapp
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