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Photos courtesy of Hannia Upton
Photos courtesy of Hannia Upton

A young actress from Whitestone is the face of a national campaign against bullying — and this is only her first gig.

Singer Lady Gaga and Mattel toy brand Monster High recently joined forces to release a Zomby Gaga doll: a likeness of the pop star featuring skeleton makeup, long pink hair and a tuxedo. All proceeds from the doll go toward the singer’s Born This Way Foundation, a not-for-profit committed to supporting young people and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.


Whitestone’s own Mairen Upton, 10, played the role of “Hero Girl” in a commercial promoting the doll’s launch. It premiered nationwide on Nickelodeon on Sunday, Oct. 23. It was her first audition and her first role.

“I was a little nervous, but I said to myself I could do it, and I did,” Upton said.

“She’s fearless; she really is,” said Hannia Upton, Mairen’s mother.

“Hero Girl” is only the beginning for the young performer. After beginning modeling a year and a half ago, Upton decided she wanted to try acting, and since accepting her first role she has been asked to audition for roles in Stephen King’s “Gerald’s Game,” “Jurassic Park 3,” “Lucky Logan” starring Channing Tatum and as the voice of Cindy Lou Who in an upcoming adaptation of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” She is also mentored by actress Dena Tyler, a native New Yorker who has appeared in shows like “Homeland,” “Louie” and “Bull.”

Mairen and actress Dena Tyler

Mairen and actress Dena Tyler

An all-around performer, Upton is also an accomplished dancer skilled in lyrical, jazz, ballet and Irish dance forms. She attends the Patti Schmidt Dance & Exercise Center in Douglaston, In Motion Dance Center of New York in College Point and Doherty Petri School of Irish Dance in Franklin Square. She is also a part of the NY/NJ Rose of Tralee Organization and the Irish American Young Leaders (IAYL) program, through which she was able to meet the president of Ireland, Michael Higgins.

“When I was a little kid I always liked to get the attention and the spotlight on the stage and make stories up,” Upton said. “[On the stage] I feel happy that I don’t have to sit down and I’m able to dance. I feel free.”

First and foremost, Upton’s mother and father encourage Mairen to succeed at her school: Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Whitestone.

“I also have to do well [in school] for me to be able to do modeling,” Upton said.

“She’s a straight-A student,” Hannia Upton said. “Her school is very academically challenging, and we’re very happy about that.”

Upton said her favorite subject is creative writing and hopes to pursue drama and screenwriting in the future. In fact, right now she’s working on a screenplay about a girl in Nashville on a treasure hunt. Be sure to stay tuned.

Photo courtesy of Hannia Upton

Photo courtesy of Hannia Upton



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