Young Actress in Dancing Her Dreams Away Reminiscent of Dorothy Dandridge

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Actress Cinderella Graham lands fairy-tale role

“We need someone who has classic beauty, sex appeal, and innocence. We need a young Dorothy Dandridge.” Those were the words of author Alretha Thomas when describing what attributes the actress who would play Shelia King, the protagonist in her new novel “Dancing Her Dreams Away,” should possess. Little did she know Cinderella Graham (her real name), a twenty-something actress out of Pomona, California would fit the bill.

“Over a hundred actresses submitted to play the part of Shelia King in the promo video for ‘Dancing Her Dreams Away. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqkv0uhfJGM. They were all young, pretty, and had decent credits. However, there was something about Cinderella’s photo that spoke to my spirit. I kept coming back to her picture. Not only is she pretty, but she embodies innocence and hope. She possesses what I envisioned in the character when I wrote her,” Thomas said. “It didn’t hurt that her name is Cinderella either. It was a good sign, because what happens to Shelia in the book is somewhat of a fairy tale,” Thomas added.

After auditions, Thomas says it was between Cinderella and one other actress. After considerable thought, she knew Cinderella would make the perfect Shelia King, the protagonist in “Dancing Her Dreams Away,” who with little to no self-esteem seeks validation through the acting industry. She finally gets a break, but the role calls for her to go topless. Fearing her grandmother’s disapproval, she declines the offer. But after numerous setbacks, she agrees to meet the producer, Gregory Livingston III, portrayed by talented and handsome actor Josef Cannon in the promo video. Gregory is rich, suave, ridiculously fine, and the panacea for Shelia’s career woes. At first sight she shapes plans to win the role and his heart. She gets both and works hard to give an Oscar worthy performance. However, when the movie wraps, nothing can prepare her for the startling revelations about Greg’s past and the aftermath of a dream gone awry.

Cinderella, the second youngest of four, says she was ecstatic to be cast and was blown away with how similar her life is to the character Shelia’s. Like Shelia, at one point in her life she desperately sought the approval of her parents who due to their beliefs as Jehovah Witnesses cut ties with her shortly after she graduated from high school when they found out she had a boyfriend and had plans to make a foray into the entertainment industry. The tension and stress resulted in her moving out of the house and becoming homeless. She accepted shelter from various friends and continued focusing on making it in Hollywood. She missed her family, but knew unless she embraced her parents’ faith she would not be accepted. When asked why she chose to be homeless, she stated “I just didn’t feel like I could wrap my arms around a faith that would call for a parent to disassociate from their child.” Dedicated to her craft, she took up acting classes and began auditioning. Initially, like Shelia, Cinderella found it difficult to stay afloat financially and pursue her dream. “At one point I worked as a bartender, but things were still rough.” A fighter, Cinderella was determined not to give up. Pain and rejection were not new to her.

Cinderella painfully recalls her brother Gregory Patrick Bowens, Jr. being murdered in November of 1997 at the tender age of 25. Cinderella, a young girl at the time, says she was very close to Gregory and was devastated by his death. “My brother’s death was very difficult to get over. However, it gave me a strong appreciation for life and I know how precious it is.”

In 2010, she came to Hollywood and continued to struggle. She says it was not until earlier this year that things began to take a turn for the better. She began to get cast in a series of independent movies and plays. “I feel so blessed about the work I’m getting, especially in light of the recession. Things are tough for everyone.” When asked what she wants to do next she replied, “Play the role of Shelia King in ‘Dancing Her Dreams Away’ the movie.”

“Dancing Her Dreams Away” is now available on Amazon.com. Thomas grew up in San Francisco, California. She attended the University of Southern California earning a BA in Journalism. She currently resides in Southern, CA with her husband. She is available for literary events, interviews, online chats, book club meetings, luncheons, churches, speaking engagements, and conferences. For more information about “Dancing Her Dreams Away” please visit the official website at http://www.Dancingherdreamsaway.com or call 626-858-1907.

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