West Linn 10-year-old steals the show on 'Portlandia'

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn 10-year-old Calais Radcliffe appeared on the season three premiere of Portlandia.Television stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen were outshined by West Linn 10-year-old Calais Radcliffe during the season three premiere of “Portlandia.”

The bubbly blonde fifth-grader at Trillium Creek Primary School appeared on the Jan. 4 episode “Take Back MTV” on cable channel IFC. In the episode, Armisen and Brownstein played characters who attempt to rescue MTV from its tween programing and return the channel to its heyday of music videos.

The duo bombarded the channel with help from MTV veterans Tabitha Soren, Kurt Loder and Matt Pinfield only to run into Calais Radcliffe who played Skylar Tiffany Thomas, the bratty MTV programming executive. Hilarity ensued.

“It was my first audition for a television show,” Calais Radcliffe said. “I was really scared. I never thought I was going to get it.”

She auditioned for the roll in August and the episode was filmed in September. The audition, callback and filming process were a whirlwind the 10-year-old and her mother, Maraya Radcliffe, won’t soon VERN UYETAKE - Calais Radcliffe poses with a photo of her and  Portlandia stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen.


Among hundreds of Portland-area children who auditioned, Calais Radcliffe got a callback. The key to her success — along with her adorableness — was her ability to improvise. Calais Radcliffe memorized about a page of lines for the audition, but conversation went haywire when the casting director threw her a theatrical curveball.

“I was reading the last part of the script when I was getting all angry — I’m pretty good at that — and then the casting director said something completely different. He said ‘just go with it’ and then he took the script away from me and just threw it,” Calais Radcliffe said. “So I improvised a little bit.”

After the audition she told her mother she did “OK.” Little did she know.

Maraya Radcliffe got the phone call stating her daughter received the part on a Monday afternoon in September. By that Wednesday, her daughter was placed in a hair and makeup chair, given ringlet curls, a little lip gloss and was poised in front of the camera.

“It was kind of crazy,” Maraya Radcliffe said. “I let her sleep in the day of because I didn’t want her to be exhausted, and then I got her out of school a little early so they could do her hair and makeup.”

The suspense was worse for Calais Radcliffe all day at school.

“I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone I was going to be on ‘Portlandia’ and I really wanted to,” Calais Radcliffe said. “But I did tell my best friend because I knew she wouldn’t tell anyone.”

The suspense continued. After filming, she was allowed to mention she was on the show, but couldn’t reveal the details of the episode.

Once on set, she felt a bundle of both excitement and nerves.

“They didn’t even put mascara on me, which sucked! They put blush and lip gloss on me and I was like, ‘yes, yes more!’” Calais Radcliffe said.

The costume designer also dressed her in “super, super, super skinny leg” leopard-print pants. Before filming she indulged in ice cream and Kit Kats provided for the film crew.

“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? How can you eat, child?’” Maraya Radcliffe said, mentioning she was nervous just watching her daughter.

Calais Radcliffe’s nerves kicked in once the cameras got rolling.

“The first few times I did it I was freaked out, but then I was laughing and everyone else on set was laughing,” she said.

“It was a very welcoming experience,” Maraya Radcliffe added. “The crew was very nice and personable. The director told me she was very talented and Fred and Carrie made it a point to tell me she did a really good job with the improvising.”by: SUBMITTED - Ten-year-old Calais Radcliffe poses with Portlandia stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen.

Disney princess

Calais Radcliffe fell in love with acting and the silver screen when she was 6. Her mother recalls her watching “Nim’s Island” over and over again, claiming she too wanted to be on screen.

“I said, ‘Well, Calais, you can’t just be on television. There are lots of things you have to do first,’” Maraya Radcliffe said.

So the family has supported her dreams. Calais Radcliffe has a talent manager and studies acting on Sundays. She appeared in an Intel commercial in September 2011 and has performed with the Missoula Children’s Theatre and with Sleepy Hollow Children’s Theater at the Lakewood Center in Lake Oswego. She auditioned twice, unsuccessfully, for “Grimm.”

“I want to get on ‘Grimm,’” Calais Radcliffe said. “It’s my friend’s favorite show and they said, ‘If you get on ‘Grimm’ it would be less scary and a lot more fun to watch!’”

But acting is just one part of the equation. Calais Radcliffe has been dancing since she was 3. She currently practices about 12 hours per week and studies jazz, lyrical, hip-hop and ballet.

She is on a jazz/lyrical dance team under the direction of Kathleen Van De Veere in West Linn and is on pointe — for the first year ever — at the Lake Oswego Academy of Dance.

Most days, she is a normal fifth-grader. She enjoys painting, playing with the family’s three white cats and going down the slide in the library at Trillium Creek Primary School at least twice a day. While she said she is serious about dancing and acting, she has at least one more dream set in her sights.

“After college, my friend and I want to work as Disney princesses,” Calais Radcliffe said. “I’ll probably have to be Ariel because she’s the smallest.”by: SUBMITTED - Calais Radcliffe gets her hair and makeup done before appearing on set.

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