Stars shining for Port Coquitlam's Ballard

Joshua Ballard comes from a Port Coquitlam family firmly rooted in show business.

His mother is a makeup artist, his dad cuts hair and his four siblings- all of whom have first names also starting with the letter "J" - are actors.

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At 16, Joshua is the youngest child, a striking red head who is on the cusp of making it big in Hollywood.

This year in Vancouver, he played Ryan in the Disney XD movie Pants on Fire opposite Disney star Bradley Steven Perry and Coquitlam's Rachelle Gillis.

When he flew down to Los Angeles for the premiere last month with his mom, Jan, the Grade 11 Riverside secondary French immersion student got to tour the Disney studios and meet with executives.

"They really liked my chemistry with Bradley on set," said Ballard, who also signed with Evolution entertainment manager Margot Menzel while in California. "Disney is such a huge family and I'd really like to work with them."

Now, Ballard is aiming to write his California High School Proficiency Test (CHSPE) in March, which would allow him to work adult hours in the United States as well as obtaining his 0-1 working visa.

"The ball is rolling and I'm so excited," Ballard said.

He's worked hard for it. First seen at the age of three in a Pert shampoo commercial, Ballard has an extensive resume in television and film for a teenager.

Recently, he appeared in the films Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and Becoming Redwood and in two episodes of the T.V. series Falling Skies, as Skip.

He's the voice of Mune in the English version of Mune, le garden de la lune, an animated film currently in post-production, and is hoping to be part of the new CBC production of Gumboot Kids, a music-driven educational program for children; the show, in which Ballard co-starred as Coyote in the original episodes with Kazumi Evans and Dan Mangan, is now in second-stage development.

Ideally, Ballard wants his own T.V. show. And he wants to be in "more serious" feature films with actors like Adrien Brody or Matthew Perry or Ryan Gosling or Bradley Cooper or Martin Freeman. "Zac Efron would be really cool, too," he quipped.

But Ballard would also like to keep up with his stage work, having previously appeared in Les Miserables at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage and Oliver at Vancouver Playhouse (this spring, he plays lead roles in Lindbjerg Academy of Performing Arts' 42nd Street and Broadway Bound's Guys and Dolls).

Jan Ballard likes to gush about her youngest. "He's a triple threat and he's got an amazing memory. He can read his lines and pick it up just like that."

He is equally enthused about pursuing his dream. "This is what I would like to commit my life to. I really like exploring the different characters and engulfing yourself into what their life is like."

His peers at Riverside and in the acting community have been "super supportive" as well, encouraging him when he auditions for a new part every week, on average.

Still, Ballard likes his downtime, too. When not performing, training or completing homework, Ballard plays drums and high school basketball, hangs out with his girlfriend, Vanessa Washington, and binges on Netflix."I can go the whole weekend watching a series," he said. "I just love the movies."

jwarren@tricitynews.com

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