Harold Finch made no promises to his granddaughter, Aliya.
If Aliya Finch wanted to obtain a part in a major motion picture exclusively produced and inspired by Harold Finch’s life, she had to earn it thorough traditional channels: via audition.
Not only did Aliya, a fifth-grade student at Summit Christian Academy ace the audition and earn a major – albeit non-speaking role – in the feature film, but according to her granddad she also scored major points with a few veteran Hollywood types.
Finch, Aliya and the cast and crew of the film “Unlimited” will gather in Kansas City Oct. 10 at Cinemark Theater on the Country Club Plaza for a red carpet world premiere of the movie inspired by Finch, who has spent much of his life encouraging others. Following the Kansas City premiere, “Unlimited” will open in select theaters around the country Oct. 11 and continue to roll out in theaters nationwide throughout spring 2014.
The film stars veteran screen actor and former United States Sen. Fred Thompson as a fictional version of Harold Finch.
“I was nervous,” Aliya said of her audition experience to land the role as lead orphan. “I never knew I would actually be in the movie. There were lots of people that tried out... I had lots of competition.”
On being asked to audition, Aliya said: “I didn’t expect it. I was surprised that I had to try out. But, I figured that this was the process. This was my first movie and I had to earn the right.”
Finch, a Lee’s Summit resident and a former member of the board at SCA, said he had no influence on Aliya landing the part cast by an independent casting agent.
“I told her ‘you have to do it on your own because I’m not going to give you any favors,’” Finch said of his advice to Aliya. “That would not do her a favor if I did. So, she worked with the drama teacher at the school and made an audition tape and sent it to Dallas. It was reviewed by a professional casting company. There were several students vying for the same role from professional agencies and she got it on her own. I’m really proud of her.
“It was a non-speaking part, but it was a significant part. I thought she was fantastic, but I’m prejudiced. Fred Thompson told me that he almost (cried) when he looked in her eyes and tried to do his lines.”
In a statement, Thompson said of Aliya’s work: “To see Aliya, who has the largest non-speaking part in the film, it was hard not to tear up.”
Inspired by his life as a scientist and motivational speaker, Finch said the movie is about “the unlimited potential that I believe everybody has – and that almost everyone misses out on.”
“I can’t describe the excitement,” Finch said of premiering the film in the Kansas City area. “I’ve never been involved in a movie before. (The executive team) just had a screening (recently) and the enthusiasm of the people that were there was just – I couldn’t believe it. I can’t wait for the general public to come and see it. I’m very excited.
“It’s really surreal. There is one place in the film where I play a minor role where I’m listening to (Thompson) give a speech. I’m on the stage and it seemed really crazy to be clapping for myself. It’s kind of hard to figure. I had to learn to divorce myself from it.”
The red carpet event will be the first time Aliya gets to screen the movie, and quite naturally, she can hardly wait to view the film.
“First of all, seeing the movie,” Aliya said of what she is looking forward to most Oct. 10. “I have not seen any of it – just being on the set. I’m excited that I’ll get to be there with my family... it will be cool to watch the movie with my family and friends, to see their reaction to my grandpa’s life story.”
Although she landed a non-speaking role, the spot is just a start for a young Aliya, who is also an accomplished dancer as well.
“Well, it was a while ago,” she said of filming the movie. “I thought that I would have at least one line. I had to whisper it, but I am glad that at least I got to be in the movie. It’s OK; it was my first movie and I really didn’t expect to get the part.”
“Unlimited” premieres Oct. 11, and can be viewed at AMC theaters around the Kansas City metro area. SCA has tickets for sale for the matinee on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12. Contact SCA’s development department at 816-525-1480 for more information.