Friday, December 11, 2009

Teenage Mogul: Behind the Scenes of 'Americanizing Shelley'

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Most girls her age are busy. There's homework, boys, fashion, music. So much to do, so little time.

All of that is on Natasha Gill's agenda - as well as her movie. She is making history on the silver screen. That's because it would not be enough for her to simply be a star. The 17-year-old is co-executive producer of the feature-length motion picture, "Americanizing Shelley."

The film tells the story of a wannabe Hollywood talent manager's quest to Americanize an Indian girl from the Himalayas. As he teaches her about the "American way of life," they begin to see the world through each other's eyes.

"Americanizing Shelley" attempts to erase the negative image some people have of the United States and bring all cultures together, according to its producers.

"We spend so much time criticizing America, we tend to forget how really wonderful a place it is ... how really kind and open and warm-hearted Americans can be. That's what I want my movies to depict," Natasha said.

Responding to a pitch by family friend and film producer Naomi Cooper, president of American Pride Films Group, and with the help of her clinical psychologist father, Natasha saw that the film's $5 million budget got funded.

Natasha is a young woman on a mission. One day, she'll readily tell you, she will be Governor of California, and "Americanizing Shelley is part of that larger mission. In a sense, Arnold Schwarzenegger's progression from action hero to governor has provided a road map for Natasha's ambitions.

Is Natasha star-struck? "Oh, a little," she admits. Natasha also plays a featured role of "Yuki" as part of a veteran cast that includes Beau Bridges, Namrata Singh Gujral ("Kaante," "The Agency") Phillip Rhys ("24"), Wil Wheaton ("Star Trek") and Shaheen Khan ("Bend It Like Beckham").

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