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The fabulous forsome from TV's Felicity
Keri Russell, stars as Felicity
Scott Speedman plays Ben
Scott Foley portrays Noel
Amy Jo Johnson plays Julie
How do these giffed actors feel about the characters they play? Are they similar to them in any way? what are their lives like on and off the set of TV's hottest show? Find out the real story of Felicity's hot yong stars.
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Chapter 1Getting to Know Keri RussellBy now, almost everyone is familiar with the cascade of golden brown ringlets, the genuine laugh, and those imploring gray-green eyes that define Keri Russell's signature good looks. She's been featured in newspapers and magazines, she's done the talk show rounds, and she comes into our homes once a week as the central character of Felicity. Onscreen and off, Keri exudes personality. She may not be as spontaneous as her television persona, who chases after the boy of her dreams on a whim and doesn't think twice of sending him her college application essay, but she's just as easy to like.THE GOOD OLD DAYSKeri and Felicity have something else in common, as well; both are native California girls. While Felicity Porter hails from Palo Alto, Keri Lynn Russell was born on March 23, 1976 in the beautiful, residential city of Fountain Valley in the heart of California's Orange County. Keri's parents, David and Stephanie Russell, had planned to name their baby after grandfather, Kermit. Fortunately, Keri was spared the frog humor by coming into this world with two X chromosomes.Unlike Felicity, Keri didn't remain in California for long. David Russell, a corporate executive with Nissan, was soon transferred to Arizona. The family, which included Keri and her older brother Todd, then made their home in Mesa.A precocious youngster, Keri loved the attention that came with being the baby of the family. And while her older brotherwas often charged with taking care of little Keri, the two would often scuffle. With the birth of her younger sister, Julie, Keri gained a sense of responsibility. But while taking care of the new baby gave Keri a feeling of importance, she was also longing for the attention she had received as the youngest child.Conflicted about her role in the family, Keri suffered from the classic middle-child syndrome and began seeking attention elsewhere. She would often act out at school and even proved to be too much for the Brownies. Keri was ousted from that organization for gross misbehavior."Me and my best friend were doing too many cartwheels, or something ridiculous like that," Keri recalled on The Tonight Show.DANCING QUEENBut the Brownies were not the only game in town. Mesa boasted enough dance studios and extracurricular sports to keep Keri in a constant state of activity. "I did everything--T-ball, track ... ," she said in a newspaper interview.While she took to a variety of sports, dance class was Keri's favorite pastime. She loved to dance and was very talented. She studied ballet, jazz, lyrical, and street dancing, in short everything she could fit into her busy schedule. Stephanie Russell was a very supportive mother, tirelessly chauffeuring her daughter from one dance class to another. School and the myriad of dance classes left Keri with little free time. But it was all worth it when Keri was selected for the Mesa Stars Dance and Drill Team.The team presented Keri with yet another opportunity to meet people and make friends. Her fellow dancers especially admired Keri's naturally curly locks, which they attempted to replicate by booking appointments with Keri's hairdresser. "Everyone always wanted to be like her," recalls one of Keri's former dance teachers in an Arizona Republic article. "I even went to Jo [Keri's stylist], but I look back at those pictures and want to die!""My sister and I paid extra money so we could go to Keri's stylist and have her hair, but it never looked the same," addedone of Keri's former classmates. "We were all going through our ugly stage then, and she was still so pretty."Her years at the Mesa Stars Dance Studio were happy ones. Aside from the many friends she found there, Keri had the chance to travel the country and perform at half-time shows during major sporting events. When she was twelve years old, Keri even performed in Sydney, Australia, at the World's Fair Expo '88. The young dancer had won numerous scholarships to exclusive after-school dance programs where she worked on her dance skills several hours each day.And believe it or not, Keri kept up with her school work through it all. Always trying to set herself apart and make her parents proud, Keri studied hard and maintained a high grade-point average. Life couldn't have been any better, when, suddenly, it all came to a screeching halt.ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGHS AND LOWSNo, Keri didn't topple from the peak of her drill team's pyramid and ruin her chances for a career in dance. It was just that her father once again announced that the family would be moving--this time to Colorado. The timing could hardly have been worse for Keri, who was going on thirteen. She was heartbroken; this would mean leaving the Mesa Stars forever.Denver would mean a change for Keri. Not only would she have to adjust to the new people, but she'd have to encounter the harsh elements of winter for the first time. Remember, she had never lived anyplace with seasons before. First it was Southern California, then Arizona--both states ranking high on the list of winter vacation getaways. In this case, the silver lining was that Keri would experience her very first white Christmas.Unlike many girls and boys her age, lucky Keri was spared the dreaded "awkward stage." Her rigorous dance schedule kept her fit, her skin was always Noxzema fresh and her hair naturally curly. And sure enough, everything soon fell into place in Denver as well. On one bright, sunshiny day, Keri was spotted by a local photographer. While she may have beenonly thirteen years old at the time, the photographer was convinced that Keri had modeling potential. At his urging, Keri decided to give the world of high fashion, or at least Sears catalogs, a try. After all, what adolescent raised on Cosmopolitan and Cindy Crawford's House of Style could resist such an offer?Keri was all ready to hit the fall fashion runways, going so far as to compile a portfolio, when she realized that the glamorous world of modeling was anything but. In comparison to her time at dance school, which required all of her concentration and completely brought her into the zone, modeling was just plain boring. Being told what to do and having to sit still for extended periods of time was ho-hum at best.While Keri kept on pursuing dance in Colorado, she formed a strong bond with her dance teacher. She has kept up with her teacher all of these years, likening their relationship to Felicity's relationship with her audiotape correspondent, Sally in a recent Ultimate TV interview.Keri's parents stayed in the Denver metro area long enough for her to begin what would prove to be an abbreviated tenure at Highlands Ranch High School. Since she hadn't had much time to gain a foothold in the precarious land of junior high school, she was forced to brave the unknown world of high school all alone.Her father's transfer during Keri's crucial formative years took a toll on the young girl's psyche. "I moved to Colorado at kind of a crucial time, just when I was finishing junior high school," Keri told Entertainment Tonight. "And that's a bad time to move. Because everyone kind of has their friends." Everyone, that is, except one girl who also happened to be new in town. The two would become fast friends after meeting at a new-student orientation and winding up in many of the same classes. "So I had one best girlfriend," she told Detour magazine. "I didn't fit in any group, I kind of voyeuristically watched high school pass by, which is completely Felicity."Nevertheless, the sudden relocation did manage to teach Keri a thing or two about adapting to her surroundings. "Nobody knows you and you have to find your own personalityamong the group ... . So you have a chance to re-establish yourself ... but it always ends up the same," Keri would later reflect in an interview with Lisa Canning.At Highlands Ranch High School, Keri was a standout student much like she had been at Mesa's Poston Junior High. And while she may have lacked a sense of belonging, the feeling that she was on the outside looking in wouldn't last long. In just one year, Keri would leave the business of grades, textbooks and popularity contests behind forever in pursuit of her dream. "You miss out on the social side, but that's not my forte anyway," she admitted to Parade magazine.STEPPING INTO THE LIMELIGHTKeri Russell's collection of dance trophies would have led many to believe that the young woman would one day grace the stage of a Broadway musical. But Keri had other plans. The chorus line is nice, but it's not exactly the type of job that comes complete with a private dressing room bearing a star on the door.When modeling didn't pan out, Keri began studying acting. She was also determined to continue dancing. The dance studio was Keri's home away from home. Ironically enough, the dance studio was also where Fate played her hand, assuring once and for all that the world would be less one dancer. One evening, when Keri was practicing her grand jetés at the studio, two Disney scouts happened to be watching.This was back in 1990, when Disney was looking for fresh faces to star in a show running on its cable channel entitled The All New Mickey Mouse Club. The first ever Mickey Mouse Club was started in the 1950s. It spawned the most famous mouseketeer ever (until now), Annette Funicello, who went on to star in a series of beach-blanket-and-bongos flicks in the 1960s. The next installment of the Mickey Mouse Club came in the 1970s, giving rise to Lisa Welchel of Blair Warner on Facts of Life fame. Now, it was Keri's turn.The young dancer's star quality was not wasted on the savvy talent scouts who were immediately taken with the vibrant fourteen-year-old. This girl could very well turn out tobe the next Annette Funicello! Without a moment's hesitation, the scouts contacted the young performer about setting up an audition.Soon, Disney began casting for Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. Realizing that Keri would be perfect for the role of the babysitter, Disney quickly scheduled a second audition. Of course, they had no way of knowing that Keri was hardly a pro when it came to staying home alone. "I was actually a really poor babysitter," Keri told Jay Leno. "I would get so scared at night that I would have to call my mom and say 'Would you come babysit with me, I'm scared!'"Never having been in a commercial, much less a feature film, Keri began to feel overwhelmed. This was all virgin territory, and Keri wasn't sure that she could handle it. "I never dreamed of being an actress," she recalled in Seventeen. "My parents are just normal, and my brother and sister have nothing to do with television."Luckily, her parents understood the importance of these opportunities for their daughter, as well as the trepidation that she was feeling. The two did everything they could to bolster Keri's confidence during this highly stressful time.After the exhilaration of going on her first two professional auditions had subsided, Keri was thrilled to learn that she had nailed both roles. She couldn't believe her luck. But her family knew that Keri's success was well deserved. She had always been a hard worker, and now everything was paying off big-time.As Keri's career began to take off, it became very important to keep the teenager grounded. Keri's parents had heard the horror stories. They knew all too well what could happen to young actors who don't have a solid support network.LIFE WITH MICKEYWhen work on the Mickey Mouse Club got underway, Keri had to relocate to Florida. To watch over their working teenager, the Russell family joined Keri in Orlando. This was the beginning of a whole new life for her, and she would needher family around until she got acclimated to the lifestyle. At home, Keri was treated the same as ever. Her brother kept her ego in check by referring to her as "the dorky little sister."As part of her employment at Disney, Keri had to engage in numerous promotional campaigns. She was required to do interviews and put together a biography. The facts on the fifteen-year-old mouseketeer included insights into her favorite drink, the Virgin Pina Colada, her favorite actor, Ethan Hawke, and her favorite color, green. Of course, much of this trivia would change as Keri grew older.The Mickey Mouse Club ran for three seasons. The taping sessions were conducted at Disney World, which became Keri's home. "I grew up at Disney World," Keri told Harper's Bazaar. "I learned to drive in the Magic Kingdom."While in Florida, Keri also attended special classes for working children. But she received a completely different sort of education on the set. The Mickey Mouse Club enabled the fledgling actress to grow comfortable in front of a camera and taught her a thing or two about being a working actress. The long hours, the endless takes, the camaraderie between the cast and crew, the Mickey Mouse Club had it all. And Keri loved every second of it, saying "I'm having the time of my life and it is the best learning experience." And while she remained passionate about dance, it was now forever relegated to the role of hobby.Even with her television experience, Keri was still a little nervous when time came to shoot Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. She was no longer playing Keri, the mouseketeer, but an entirely different person named Mandy Park. Instead of a bunch of kids chosen for their zip and sprightliness, like on the Mickey Mouse Club, Keri now had seasoned actors to collaborate with. While her role as a teenage babysitter was hardly what one would call a stretch for the actress, it gave her the opportunity to get her feet wet in the world of film.After the filming wrapped, Keri went back to her mouse ears and the Mickey Mouse Club. The show was gaining a large teenage following. Years later the former mouseketeer would still be getting Mickey Mouse Club fan mail. "They'revery loyal fans," she explained to Ultimate TV. While working on the show, Keri didn't always get along with everyone, but the friendships she did form were that much more lasting. What's more, she actually met her current boyfriend, Tony Lucca, on the set of the Mickey Mouse Club.Tony was an actor, musician, and fellow member of the mouseketeers. As the years went by, he and Keri grew very close. By the time the last season rolled around in 1993, the Mickey Mouse Club had spun off a series called Emerald Cove. Many of the original club members had roles, including Keri, who played Andrea McKinsie and Tony, who played Jeff Chambers. Not surprisingly, Andrea and Jeff were listed as one of the hottest "neighborhood couples."But Keri and Tony were more than just a couple, they were best friends to boot. Leaving Florida to pursue her career in Los Angeles meant leaving her secure and comfortable existence, but Keri was used to life's little upheavals. She had already gone through enough transitions to know that things have a way of working themselves out.GOING BACK TO CALIAt this point Keri was seventeen. The age when many a young man and woman goes off in search of a college degree. But Keri was driven to make it as an actress. Going to college when she coul...
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