Real Life

Meet the Kiwi kid taking Hollywood by storm

South Auckland dancer Amie Donald is burning up the US box office in the Kiwi-shot horror movie M3gan – and this is just the beginning!

Embarking on Year 9 can be daunting – choosing what subjects to take as you start to navigate your high-school years and career choices. But for Amie Donald, there are so many other decisions to consider.

The South Aucklander, who turns 13 this week, not only needs to choose her subject options, but she is also now starting to contemplate the next step on her rapid journey to global stardom.

Amie plays a demonic doll in international box-office hit M3gan – directed by Kiwi filmmaker Gerard Johnstone and filmed partly in Aotearoa – and her dance moves have been seen hundreds of millions of times on social media in only a few weeks.

So the question everyone in the industry is asking is: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

But this confident starlet knows what she wants – to not choose. Amie tells Woman’s Day, “Everybody on set always asked me, ‘Do you want to be a stunt girl or do you want to do acting?’ But I want to be an actor who does my own stunts – and I still want to dance. I love it.”

One of the film’s producers, Judson Scott, says Amie has “phenomenal talent” and “X factor”. He adds, “We’re so lucky to be one of the first films to work with her. She can dance, she can perform all these incredible stunts and her on-screen presence is something you really can’t teach.”

Creating a monster.

But Amie’s Hollywood trajectory nearly didn’t happen. Her mum Roisheen, 54, admits she discouraged her daughter from taking up dance, suggesting she do netball or follow her into gymnastics instead.

She explains, “I was a gymnast when I was Amie’s age. In my mind, dancing was step, clap, step, clap, jazz hands! I almost talked her out of it. ”

But Amie was determined – and born for it. Roisheen tells, “We took her to a dance studio and the owner said, ‘Clearly she’s been dancing somewhere else.’ But it was her first time.”

When she was nine, Amie went on to be the only Kiwi to win medals – a silver and a bronze – at the Dance World Cup in Portugal. Her older brother Campbell, 19, was already a keen athlete, passionate about rugby, like his dad Miles, 50, and involved in basketball and karate.

Parents Miles and Roisheen, plus brother Campbell are Amie’s biggest fans.

Together with his mum, he gained his black belt, and Roisheen went on to help Amie to achieve her orange belt, which saw her acting almost derailed. “Miles and I were constantly on the go, taking the kids to different activities weeknights and weekends, so we told the kids to choose just one thing,” Roisheen remembers. “Amie chose dance.”

Encouraged by her dance school to get an agent, Amie’s screen debut was as an extra in season one of Netflix’s Sweet Tooth, before being cast in M3gan. To keep up with schoolwork, she had an on-set tutor for those six weeks.

Then Sweet Tooth casting agents asked her back and, as a featured extra, she’s in every episode.

Roisheen has resigned from Inland Revenue after 34 years to help Amie see where her film career goes. Her parents have also decided to home-school her for the first term of 2023 as she is now contracted on another international production and may potentially attend Comic-Con in San Diego in July.

And action! Amie as life-like doll M3gan with Violet McGraw.

“We’ll see how it goes,” says Roisheen, who is relishing this time. “If it works, great. If it doesn’t, we’ll look at going back to college. Campbell grew up so fast. All of a sudden, he was an apprentice builder. They’re so close. He’s one of her biggest supporters. He helps her with her lines. He lives on the property and he comes over every day to give Amie a hug and say, ‘Love you.'”

While dance classes are on hold while she is filming, Stranger Things fan Amie uses her downtime to bust out a few moves. She does miss her friends, but like other 13-year-olds, she spends weekends having sleepovers with her bestie.

And just because she’s embarking on a Hollywood career doesn’t mean she can get out of her chores around the house – emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, clearing the drive with the leafblower and keeping her room tidy.

“She’s always been a great, humble kid,” Roisheen shares. “I take my hat off to Amie when it comes to determination. She’s amazing. She sticks to something and she sees it right through.”

Amie admits, “Sometimes it doesn’t really seem real. I was watching the movie last night and I was just shocked that that’s what I did.”

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