Sammi Hanratty, Local Child Actress, Stars in Doll-Based Movie

Valley child actress Sammi Hanratty lives in Scottsdale -- when she can.

Busy as a bee -- but not a Mean Bee (we'll get to that in a moment) -- Hanratty travels frequently to Los Angeles for her work in the CBS show The Unit or The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Next week, according to her Web site, she'll be in New York City at the young-girl's-dream-store American Girl Place signing autographs and helping promote her new movie, which is based on the popular series of dolls.

New Times caught up to Hanratty early in 2008 in Skye Restaurant, signing autographs for fans during Jordin Sparks' Charity Celebrity Gala and Afternoon Acoustic Event (at right).

Yup, life as a child actress seems pretty cool, though you always have to wonder whether such an intensive work schedule is good for a kid. Reportedly, Sammi's following her desire to be a star that began when she was just a tot. From her site's bio:

She is the youngest of five daughters. When she was two years old, her family moved to California. It was at that time that she started telling everyone that she wanted to be on t.v. or "on the stage". She loved entertaining everyone she met. When she was six years old, her mother finally met with an agent in Los Angeles. The next day, she had six runway jobs lined up. Two weeks later, she booked her first national commercial for Oil of Olay. (It aired for two years!) She did another national commercial a month later. After four months of working in Los Angeles, Sammi and her family moved back to Arizona. 

One her sisters, Danielle, also caught the acting bug and has had some success.

Sammi recently scored the lead role in a newly released straight-to-DVD movie, Chrissa Stands Strong, which is about the hot topic of mean girls and bullying. According to this trailer ...

... Chrissa, the new girl at school, is taunted badly by the "Mean Bees," a clique of nasty prepubescent trollops. You'd think the movie might be based on the some of the brats the Hanratty girls might have known growing up in Scottsdale, but no, the movie is set in Minnesota, the home state of children's book author Mary Casanova, who penned the plot.

Though the movie never appeared in theaters, (let's face it, the thing was made as a marketing ploy to sell more dolls and stuff), it'll be appearing on HBO starting January 5.

That's a huge splash for the local girl whose roles have been mostly limited to small parts till now. If her career takes off after this, she'll be able to say her success was in part due to the history-inspired dolls of Pleasant Rowland. -- Ray Stern

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.