Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

From First-Grader in Clay to Rising Child Star in L.A. Avion Baker's Role on Disney Show Could Be Start of Something Big

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

From First-Grader in Clay to Rising Child Star in L.A. Avion Baker's Role on Disney Show Could Be Start of Something Big

Article excerpt

Byline: ERIN TRAUTH

After landing a spot on a national television show, a 7-year-old from Clay County is enjoying the rewards of taking a gutsy chance on stardom.

Avion Baker, who attended S. Bryan Jennings Elementary School in Orange Park last year, landed her first big gig in mid-May - an appearance on the popular Disney show Hannah Montana.

The show, which stars country crooner Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter, Miley Cyrus, follows the life of a preteen dealing with moving pains and a secret life as a pop star. Avion's appearance on the show, which she said involves a beach scene and lots of singing, will air on the Disney Channel on Friday, Aug. 4.

In the scene, Avion engages in a short dialogue with Hannah Montana and will receive a credit as the "Little Girl" at the end of the show.

"I was so happy to be on Hannah Montana," Avion said. "I got to make friends, I got my own dressing room, I got to sign autographs after the curtain call - I was like, this is so cool."

Avion and her mother, also named Avion but with the last name Branch, moved to Clay County in 2002 when Branch was assigned to Jacksonville Naval Air Station. During that time, Branch realized her young daughter had a gift.

"Since Avion was very young, I knew she had it," Branch said. "Wherever we went, she completely stole the spotlight. Avion never meets a stranger, and everyone kept telling me, 'You need to get her into something.' "

Branch decided to sign her daughter with Suzi Young of Denise Carol Models & Talent in Jacksonville, where Avion had the chance to develop as an actor and singer. Last summer, Avion was named best overall child actor at a weeklong American Modeling and Talent Convention in Orlando.

"We had 24 messages waiting for us when we got home," Branch said of the calls from agents all over the country. …

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