ONE of the DW Stadium’s cheerleaders is heading to France after landing the plum role of the Little Mermaid at Disneyland Paris.
Grace Stanley says her career plans to become a teacher have been turned on their head after successfully auditioning to star at their internationally acclaimed holiday resort.
The 20-year-old former Winstanley College student will be packing her bags in just a few days’ time and who knows when she’ll be back, because Disney chiefs were so impressed with her that they offered her the rare privilege of an open-ended contract.
Although she will become the fish-tailed cartoon star for parades and tourist meet-and-greets, she says she also expects to be able to put her dancing skills to good use too.
And the Blackrod performing arts student has certainly packed in plenty of showtime already.
She used to dance for the English Youth Ballet and has acted, sung and danced in numerous shows since she was just two years old, including the latter at both the Palace Theatre, Manchester and Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
At the age of 10 she was European Disco Dancing Champion and is a Wigan Warriors cheerleader.
After leaving Winstanley with performing arts A-levels, she won a scholarship with Liverpool John Moores University who say that she can put her studies on hold for a couple of years and then come back to complete her dance degree after this once-in-a-lifetime chance in Paris.
This turn of events came out of the blue.
Grace said: “In the space of just a few hours my life has changed completely.
“There I was expecting to go into teaching and now I have this job which I can keep going for as long as I want and it will open up all sorts of other doors for me. One thought is that I might go to Disney World Florida.
“It was a friend who told me they were auditioning for Paris and so along with 400 to 500 other people I went down to the Pineapple Dance Studios in London and went through three rounds of auditions until we were whittled down to a final 10 to whom they gave various parts.
“One of the auditions saw the judges just staring at me for about 10 minutes, asking me to make various expressions to see how closely my features matched Ariel’s, the Little Mermaid. Mine is a ‘face character’ – one where you don’t wear the character’s head so they wanted someone closely resembling her who could also act and dance.
“The audition was last Thursday week and they rang me last Tuesday to offer me an open-ended contract which is apparently quite rare.
“I am really made up and my family are chuffed to bits, especially the little ones who all now want to come and see me.”
Grace says she will be well paid and the contract includes accommodation, meals and regular pampering sessions.
On arrival in the French capital she will first spend five days at “Disney University” where she learns how to pose for photographs, sign autographs, speak like her character and wave to the crowds before she can go out and be Ariel.
She added: “I am so looking forward to it. I have a friend who has done something similar and says I am in for a wonderful time.”