Kingsport Times News Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jessica Fischer

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Kingsport siblings making a splash in Hollywood

February 11th, 2014 8:33 am by Jessica Fischer

Kingsport siblings making a splash in Hollywood

Sean Giambrone, Claire Scanlon and Kingsport native Stephanie Katherine ‘S.K.’ Grant are shown on the set of ABC’s ‘The Goldbergs.’ Contributed photo.

Tune in to ABC’s new show “The Goldbergs” tonight and you might recognize a familiar face.

Kingsport native Stephanie Katherine Grant, the daughter of Drs. Stephen and Anna Yallourakis, recently landed a role on the sitcom, a semiautobiographical, coming-of-age comedy about a geeky 11-year-old named Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone) who documents his family’s life in the 1980s with a camcorder.

Thirteen-year-old S.K., as she’s known by family and friends, plays Emmy Mirsky, Goldberg’s best friend. Her first episode, titled “Muscles Mirsky,” aired Feb. 4; she also has screen time in a “Goonies”-inspired episode, “Goldbergs Never Say Die,” set to air Feb. 11, and “You’re Not Invited,” airing Feb. 25.

“Emmy on ‘The Goldbergs’ makes me laugh,” S.K. said during a recent email interview from Los Angeles, Calif., where the show is filmed. “I am very much like Emmy. Emmy knows herself, and stands up for what is right, and stands beside the ones she loves.

“I am so thankful to be working on such an exceptional show. Jeff Garlin (who plays dad, Murray Goldberg) is totally amazing, Wendi McLendon-Covey (mom Beverly Goldberg) is an incredible actor, Troy Gentile (brother Barry Goldberg) and Haley Orrantia (sister Erica Goldberg) are fantastic to work with. I have a great chemistry with Sean Giambrone, my longtime friend on the show.”

It’s just the latest in a string of successes for the young actress, who was singing before she was a year old and made her on-stage debut at Dollywood when she was 2.

By the ripe old age of 7, S.K., also an accomplished cellist, knew acting was her true calling and she hasn’t looked back since. In 2009, S.K., her mom and older brother Michael, also an actor, moved to Los Angeles, and within weeks she had booked her first short film, followed by a guest role on CBS’ “Criminal Minds.”

S.K. was featured in the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival hit “Max Rose,” in which she played the granddaughter of the legendary Jerry Lewis.

She guest-starred on Nickelodeon’s hit series “Dead Time Stories,” playing a friendly ghost named Princess Giana who is trapped in a medieval castle, and has landed several roles on network television pilots, including Rob Corddry’s 2013 ABC comedy “Spy” as well as the first episode of NBC’s “Save Me,” starring Anne Heche. S.K. has also been seen on the popular website Funny or Die as a street tough pickpocket named Madonna in “Grandsons of Anarchy. ”

She has lead roles in the upcoming independents “And The Snow Lay Around,” executive produced by Emma Thompson and George Pelecanos, and the German dramatic feature “Wonder Girls.”

S.K.’s stage work includes Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse production of “Coney Island Christmas” in 2012. During her run at the Geffen, Grant booked a commercial for Amazon Kindle, whose producers were so committed to the young actress that they arranged their shoot dates around her Geffen availability. Just minutes after shooting began, the director was already calling S.K. a young Meryl Streep. “It’s a complete and total honor to be compared to an actress of such great talent and dignity as Meryl Streep,” S.K. said. “I am so fond of Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. They are exceptional actresses, and I so hope to possess their dignity and skill one day.”

S.K.’s brother Michael, 18, is also making a name for himself in Hollywood. He has appeared on “Criminal Minds” with Joe Mantegna; “Children’s Hospital” with comedy veterans Megan Mullally, Rob Corddry and Malin Ackerman; Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up;” and Nickelodeon’s “Victorious.”

In 2011, he generated lots of buzz playing a young classical pianist stricken with a brain tumor on Shonda Rhimes’ hit ABC series “Private Practice.”

Michael was cast by “Seventh Heaven” creator Brenda Hampton as Ethan, the troubled teen on ABC Family’s hit show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” The role was originally written for a single episode but was quickly expanded, and Michael became a regular in the series’ final season in 2013.

After the show’s conclusion, Michael landed the role of Connor, opposite Lucy Hale, in ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars.” He was also cast as Trevor, the vandal son of the deputy police commissioner, on the Fox comedy series “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” starring Andy Samberg.

Michael’s movie credits include a starring role in The Hallmark Channel’s “Reading, Writing and Romance” (2013) as tech whiz kid J.D. Forester, alongside Meredith Baxter and Brenda Strong. He just returned from shooting the indie dramatic feature, “Zoe Gone,” from acclaimed director Conor Allyn and due for release in 2014. He plays Randy Chambers, a teen who gets on the wrong side of the law.

S.K. said she and her brother still maintain strong ties to Kingsport, where S.K. attended Jefferson Elementary School, and come back home as often as they can.

“I get so excited when we come back to Kingsport,” S.K. said. “I love to come home, to my house, my room, my toys and books. We come home every summer for long vacations and every Christmas . We come for long weekends in between.”

She’s looking forward to continuing her education, sharpening her skills and allowing the path that’s before her to unfold, wherever it may lead her.

“I know my gifts and talents are truly God-given,” said S.K., who also happens to be fluent in Greek, French and Kinyarwandan. “I feel a purpose to train my talents to the best of my abilities. I think being well-read and versed is so important in any industry. It is the part of oneself that gives you the confidence within yourself to pursue your purpose. I believe this is what gives us our dignity. I love Emma Thompson’s quote: ‘Knowing your dignity is so vital in any industry.’

“Through all the auditioning, callbacks, rejections, and successes, I have learned to really know myself. I continue to learn about myself every day. I think the most important thing is surrendering all the worldly things and knowing who I am and what I was created to do.” “The Goldbergs” airs at 9 p.m., Tuesdays on ABC. To find out more about S.K., like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter at @StephKathGrant1.

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