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The Heart of a Star

Featured Photo from The Heart of a Star

This young Winter Springs actress is traveling the world to promote her hit movie and shine a new light on homelessness right here in our community

In many ways, actress Brooklynn Prince is like most other seven-year-old girls. She loves ice cream and cake pops, shoes that are pink and sparkly, and sleepovers with her friends. Yet in other ways, she is more like a compassionate, caring adult in a child’s body. Brooklynn possesses poise, maturity, and empathy for others, all well beyond her years.

The Winter Springs girl starred in last year’s acclaimed indie film, The Florida Project.The poignant movie juxtaposes the joys of childhood with the gritty realities of society’s hidden homeless and working poor.

In the movie, Brooklynn portrays a spunky kid named Moonee, who lives with her young, single mom in a rundown motel on the outskirts of Walt Disney World. Shot in Central Florida, the film was directed by Sean Baker and co-starred Willem Dafoe.
Brooklynn’s real-life parents, Justin and Courtney Prince, initially balked at allowing their daughter to be in the film, which is rated R due to language and other adult content. However, a persuasive Brooklynn convinced them to let her tell Moonee’s touching story.

“I was like, ‘This story is really not a fairy tale, so I want to do this,’” Brooklynn says, with her parents and baby brother by her side. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be in a movie where you’re looking at a screen that’s not SpongeBob SquarePants or Cinderella.”

Her knockout performance made Brooklynn a media darling and recently earned her a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress. She stole hearts – and the show – with a sweet, emotional acceptance speech.

“Wow, this is such a big honor,” she said at the awards ceremony in Santa Monica, California. “All the nominees are great. You guys are awesome. We should go and get ice cream after this.”

Among her other honors, Brooklynn was named one of the Top 10 Actors for 2017 by The New York Times Magazine.
The Florida Project has been an incredible journey for the Prince family, starting with its world premiere last May at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Brooklynn helped promote the film during a whirlwind publicity tour that took her from Los Angeles to New York City to Paris.

Brooklynn charmed TV audiences with appearances on Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel Live! And she appeared on a talk show in Paris despite having a French vocabulary that’s pretty much limited to bonjour, merci, and oui.

Her role in The Florida Project also caught the attention of Hollywood movers and shakers, leading to other high-profile projects. Currently, Brooklynn is in Ireland filming The Turning, a retelling of The Turn of the Screw, the classic ghost story by Henry James. The movie is being produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment.

At the recent American Film Institute Awards in Los Angeles, Brooklynn gave Spielberg a purple ribbon meant to bring awareness to the plight of the homeless. The famed director promptly donned the ribbon and wore it for the rest of the evening.

Another of Brooklynn’s upcoming projects is Disney’s animated film, The One and Only Ivan, based on the book by Katherine Applegate. Brooklynn will voice the role of Ruby, a baby elephant. Angelina Jolie will give voice to Stella, the adult elephant who cares for little Ruby.

Jolie, who has six kids of her own, came up with a fun fashion idea for her and Brooklynn.

“We’re getting matching elephant onesies,” Brooklynn beams, barely able to contain her excitement. “I’m so excited because I just saw Maleficent. I love Angelina Jolie!”

Brooklynn’s previous acting jobs have included a role in Robo-Dog: Airborne and a small part in the soon-to-be released Monsters at Large. The youngster’s mom, Courtney, has helped guide her career from day one.

Courtney is a talent, acting, and performance coach with more than two decades of experience in showbiz. Dad Justin’s career is far removed from acting; he is an environmental scientist for the City of Orlando.

“We’re very proud of Brooklynn and all that she’s accomplished,” Justin says, “From her first steps as a baby to her acting awards, she’s always been an exceptional kid.”

Brooklynn, who previously attended Rainbow Elementary School, is now home-schooled. The importance of having a strong support system, including her parents and grandparents, isn’t lost on the young starlet.

“A lot of people are supporting me,” Brooklynn says. “It doesn’t take one person to build a nine-foot building; it takes a lot of people to build a nine-foot building. That’s big! It’s taller than my brother!”

Even though Brooklynn is busy making other films, The Florida Project and its message remain front-and-center for the Prince family.

“Our hope is that people see the movie and that they are inspired to help, not point the finger at someone else to help,” Courtney says.

Angie Romagosa, president and CEO of The Sharing Center in Longwood, has high praise for the film and Brooklynn’s spot-on performance. The Sharing Center, which works to prevent hunger and homelessness for those in crisis, cosponsored a private screening of the movie at the Enzian Theater in Maitland last year.

“What better way to appeal to all of us than seeing homelessness and its effects through the eyes of a child?” Angie asks.
Brooklynn had been intent on helping those less fortunate long before The Florida Project became a hit, her mother says. And since making the film, Brooklynn has volunteered with the Community Hope Center, which works to assist the homeless living along the Highway 192 corridor in Osceola County.

“She’s always had a heart for others, and I love that about her,” Courtney says. 

Tears well up in Brooklynn’s eyes when she talks about seeing homeless people on the side of the road, holding up signs for help.“I feel like I need to be carrying a wallet at all times,” she says, her voice breaking.

Brooklynn’s fervent hope is for people to step up and take action to eradicate homelessness, rather than simply mulling over the problem.

“Go out there and help,” she encourages. “Thinking isn’t going to help. Thinking isn’t doing. Doing is doing.”

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