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Alexander Payne and Celia Kenney

Celia Kenney

At Town, her father Ed’s restaurant, we caught up with 13-year-old Celia Kenney, a Punahou 8th grader who plays Reina, the “bad example” pal of Scottie in the film.

Do you think the film toned down Reina’s character a bit?

Yes, I think so. In the book she’s horrible!

How about that outfit?

It was too tight!

What was it like when you first met Alexander Payne?

I feel like he’s just a nice person, same as Michelle Obama [whom she met last week when the First Lady visited Ma’o organic farms in Waianae]. He just was very comforting when he was working with our parts.

How did he direct you?

He just kind of let you do what felt like the right thing to do. He was all about real acting–not Disney. You could actually feel those emotions and relate it to real life.

Was it fun?

It definitely was. A brand-new experience. Alex Payne and George Clooney are both just funny people. I’d hear George talking, yelling in these different accents across the hall…

Were you surprised to see yourself in the film?

Yes–it was filmed so long ago that I forgot how I looked at that time. I knew that [my scene] was coming because I recognized the outfits the sisters were wearing in the scene leading up.

What’s your next role?

I’ll be Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the Performing Arts Center of Kapolei.