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AMY SMART – An American Girl
by Nancy Simon

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Being the time of Thanskgiving and all, we thought it may be a good time to focus on an All-American talent. And no better a career to highlight than the catapulting one of golden girl Amy Smart, who in addition to being a solid lead actress, is also highly committed to animal and environmental activism.

The twenty-nine-year-old Topanga Canyon, Cal., born actress frequently takes on roles in which she plays the good intentioned, upbeat girlfriend or girl after which men lust. And, true to this pattern is Ms. Smart's latest comedy flick, JUST FRIENDS, in which she stars as Jamie Palamino, the desired paramour of Ryan Reynolds' central character, Chris Brander. Shy and overweight in high school, Brander was crushed by Jamie's "Just Friends" speech in response to his romantic overtures. Now a flashy LA music executive who makes an unexpected stop to his hometown of New Jersey while en route to Paris comes face to face with the woman who dashed his dreams.

While probably not chock full of Oscar potential, JUST FRIENDS does contain enjoyable performances and encouragement for all who have ever dreamed of hooking up with their high school crush.

And, opposed to being annoying and cloying as the eternal "pursued girl who typically is the envy of all the other female characters", Smart tends to bring a refreshingly genuine and charming dimension to the characters she portrays. The ability to draw in both genders of the audience rather than appeal to only the opposite sex says a great deal about her skills to add a level of sincerity to the not so overly complex teen \ young adult genre movies in which she regularly appears.

Though not quite masterpiece theatre, films such as STARSKY & HUTCH (2004) staring Ben Stiller (Starsky) and Owen Wilson (Hutch) with THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (2004) opposite Ashton Kutcher and and BLIND DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON (2004) Topher Grace, Josh Duhamel and Kate Bosworth have allowed Smart to be involved with films produced purely for the purpose of entertaining the demographic known in the film industry as the movie-going audience that most frequents films – the young people between the ages of 15 to 25.

As a whole, Smart's career benefits from her ability to favorably connect with the newbie adult age group in several ways: boosts her star power; increases the likelihood she will continue to land roles with large amounts of on-screen time; and enables her to work in close proximity to all the high-profile actors of her generation.

Acting in films almost a full decade, Smart is credited with more than 20 roles. Included in her roster are such films as: BIGGER THAN THE SKY 2005 with John Corbett and Sean Astin; BLIND HORIZON (2004) with Val Kilmer and Neve Campbell; ROAD TRIP (2000) with Sean William Scott (AMERICAN PIE); the 70s (2000) a television mini-series chronicling the nostalgic era; OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE (1999) -written by the Farrelly Brothers-the film detailed a young, working-class boy's (Shawn Hatosy) desires to go against his father's (Alec Baldwin) to get out of a small town; VARSITY BLUES (1999) with James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek), Scott Caan, and Jon Voight; HOW TO MAKE THE CRUELEST MONTH (1999), in which, against type, Smart played a ruthless seductress; THE LAST TIME I COMMITTED SUICIDE (1997); and STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997).

While many of Smart's films may be categorized as: parodies, predictable, formulaic stories and | or recapitulated youth-oriented tales of love, romance and coming-of-age; her strong suit remains to be the innocence, warmth and likeability she injects into her characters. Perhaps, the first glimpse of her relatable – down-to- earth quality was visible as the congenial, albeit naοve, Ruby involved with Noel (played by Scott Foley) on Fox-TV's popular Felicity.

A girl whose parents were not high-powered executives, but rather everyday working people- her dad a salesman, mom an employee at the J. Paul Getty Museum-Smart embodies the All-American success story. Certainly, the natural good looks help, for she began her career as a model; but it is also the girl next door quality that contributes the most to her credibility as an actress and bankability within the industry.

Further enhancing her 'good side', for the past seven years, she has been a spokeswoman for the non-profit group, Heal the Bay, an organization devoted to cleaning up the Santa Monica Bay. In addition to advocating on behalf of environmental causes, Amy is also passionate about protecting the rights of animals. "I'm grateful for every organization that goes out of their way to rescue animals and find loving homes for them," says Smart.

On her upcoming roster of 2006 releases is: PEACEFUL WARRIOR with Nick Nolte in which Smart plays a college gymnast whose life changes following an encounter with a stranger; and the romantic, comedy BEST MAN, which set in London stars Stuart Townsend as the best man of the groom who falls for Smart (the bride-to-be.) Blackmail and manipulation ensue as the best man tries to win the girl by making the groom look bad in the process.

In a recent interview, Smart stated that one of the reasons she did the film was because it was set in England. "Partly, I did the film so that I could do the accent. I only had one week to practice and I practiced with this coach only about four different times (laughing). Obviously, it takes a lot more than that. So a few days before shooting, the director is like, 'You know, maybe we should make her from New York," said Smart.

Obviously you can the girl out of America, but you can't take the American out of the girl. An American Girl, through and through, we should be thankful for the fact that some actresses seen on the big screen remain baggage-free and uncomplicated.

In fact, Smart who was reported as saying, "For me, I'm a real environmentalist and I volunteer a lot when I'm not working. So, if I were to get two million dollars, I would probably want to donate that money," may even be too good to be true.

However, in light of the impending holiday season, we will be thankful that Amy Smart represents our country well and has done so by lending credence to her roles; adding dimension to light-hearted fare; donating her time and energies to worthwhile causes; and, perhaps most importantly, not letting life in Hollywood go to her head....

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A capsulized profile on an emerging talent, i.e., actor/director in the film world and a snippet as to why he or she is destined to soon become a household name.

Other Columns
Other columns by Nancy Simon:

EMILE HIRSCH: Young Upstart

SIENNA MILLER:B-day Girl\ Factory Girl

DJIMON HOUNSOU: A Diamond in the Rough

ABBIE CORNISH: Who's That Girl?

DARREN ARONOFSKY: Daring to go further

All Columns

Nancy Simon
A Chicago-based freelance writer and film enthusiast, Nancy has an insatiable curiousity and knack for picking out talented, promising individuals.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Nancy Simon by clicking here.

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