Grantham fifth-grader preparing for career in show biz
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 17, 2011 1:50 AM
Rayce Gibson, a fifth-grader at Grantham School, in a photograph from "Oliver" in which he played the role of Tiny Tim.
When Rayce Gibson was barely a toddler, he was already showing signs of becoming a performer.
The fifth-grader at Grantham School remembers when his taste for the arts began.
"I watched a musical called 'Cats.' I was interested in, like, the music and all that stuff," he said. "I started thinking about how they got into that.
"I liked everything. I would try to dance along to songs and sing along."
"He couldn't even talk but he would mimic them, he'd dance like them," his mother, Jaime Gibson, recalls. "It's his passion. It's always been his passion since he was 2 years old. That's when we knew."
At 5 years old, he started taking piano lessons, then around age 7 he was a "curtain warmer" with StageStruck, opening up performances by singing with others his age.
His acting debut, though, was in a school play, "A Holiday Moosical" -- "I played a moose," he said proudly.
So far the 10-year-old has appeared in "Beauty and the Beast," "Robin Hood" and "Sarah Plain and Tall," and recently played the lead in "Oliver." He has also appeared in commercials and recently shot an independent film in Wilmington.
The 30-minute movie, "Superhero" -- created to raise money for cancer research, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Children's Miracle Network -- will be released in April and has been accepted into the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival.
Like many his age, Rayce enjoys soccer and is learning gymnastics. But unlike his peers, he's also had a talent agent helping him find paying jobs since October.
STW Talent in Wilmington is a small agency, said his mother, but they've already done a good job finding auditions for the young actor.
"He went to audition for a Christian movie called 'Destiny Road' and has been in a commercial for 'Stalker Alert,'" Mrs. Gibson said. "He and his sister -- Rileigh, 7 -- were in that. She just started and is also interested in theater."
For Rayce, he enjoys everything about the process -- from the production end to the polished performance.
He doesn't even mind learning lines, he said.
"The way I learn how to remember lines is I pace back and forth. And when I go out there, really, it's all up here," he said, pointing to his head.
Fortunately, he has a photographic memory, his mother says, which helps him both on and off the stage. He is a good student, she noted, and often makes the principal's list at his school.
Most recently, he's had some impressive opportunities -- a Broadway show and an upcoming movie.
"My agent, she knows somebody up on Broadway," said Rayce, whose photo and resume are posted on a website that caters to producers.
"They saw it and sent his agent information to come and audition for Michael Banks in 'Mary Poppins,'" Mrs. Gibson said. "They have three kids for the part. As they age out, they replace them."
The family traveled to New York City in mid-February for the try-out, Mrs. Gibson said.
"The guy who was just doing all this brought all the people into the room," said Rayce. "There were about nine of us boys and all the girls that were auditioning for Jane came in and auditioned. We had a two-hour workshop and two hours of serious auditions.
"I haven't heard back yet. They'll contact our agent."
Rayce is also up for a small part in the new Farrelly brothers movie, "Three Stooges," which will be shot in Atlanta, Georgia and released in 2012.
"They haven't told me about callbacks," he said, but added that the experience provided another lesson about the business.
"I learned that the audition could take at least 20 minutes or it could take 30 seconds. We rode up there for an hour and a half (to Wilmington) and we were only there for 20 seconds. I said three words -- Moe, Larry and Curly."
As he awaits the outcome of each audition, Rayce contemplates possible directions such a career might take.
He has an appreciation for scary movies, especially now that he understands more about special effects, but prefers action movies, especially those with super heroes, and would consider one day doing his own stunts.
He's also got a fallback plan.
"When I grow up, I'm having a Plan B, and that's teaching Greek mythology," he said. "I want to teach about Greek mythology because that's always interested me. ...
"I would like to do movies, and in between do gymnastics and soccer and teaching. And then another movie comes along and that just repeats. I want to be able to do everything."
College is a definite, he said, after which he'll make a decision about whether to move to a larger market
and continue in the movie business.
For now, he's happy to be a kid with a few chances to dabble in the industry.
"I feel thankful for how my mom and dad, they can bring me to auditions," he said.
"I'm learning just like he is," said his mother. "Like the movie he went and did, I didn't think he had a chance in the world -- he didn't have head shots, I had pictures that we gave the guy. But he got it.
"And they told us later one reason Rayce got the part was because they could tell that he's not been coached."
Mom and dad, Ben Gibson, owner of Graphixx Screening Printing, are determined not to become stage parents and to keep their son grounded.
"As long as he keeps his grades up, I will let him do whatever he wants to do," Mrs. Gibson said.
"I'm extremely proud of him. He's mad smart -- I'm not quite sure where he got that from," dad Ben said with a smile. "But I could not ask for a better kid, both him and his sister."