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After a nationwide virtual search that brought forth the country’s most talented and exuberant young performers, a certain standout star has landed the title role of Annie in NBC’s upcoming holiday production.

12-year-old triple threat Celina Smith will play Annie in “Annie Live!” and join the all-star ensemble that includes Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace, and Tituss Burgess as Rooster. The live musical event will air Thursday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Hailing from Atlanta, Celina began her career as Young Nala in the national touring company of “The Lion King” and can also be seen on the series “Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan” on Nickelodeon. Her “Annie Live!” casting means that she’ll perform some of musical theater’s most beloved numbers, including “Maybe,” “Tomorrow” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”


“It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of the talented young ladies who have played Annie before me and I can’t wait to start this journey,” Smith said via a statement about landing the lie changing role.

The precocious prodigy was also seen on “Today” reacting to the big news. According to Celina, she got official confirmation of her casting via her team who casually asked her about her fall plans.

“We were in my mom’s room and my team called and they were like, ‘What are you going to be doing this October?'” “I was like, ‘I don’t know,’ ” she continued, “and then they were like, ‘You’re going to be in New York doing Annie Live this October!’ and I screamed.”

Isn’t she too cute? Congrats Celina!

“Annie Live!” will be executive produced by Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Alex Rudzinsky, with Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski sharing the directing duties. Choreography will be led by Sergio Trujillo. Jason Sherwood will oversee production design. Stephen Oremus will orchestrate the music direction. Emilio Sosa will lead costume design. The live event is being produced by Chloe Productions.

Smith is represented by Pantheon, J Pervis Talent Agency, AGI Entertainment and attorney Mark Temple.


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