THUNDER BAY — A budding young actress from Thunder Bay plays a lead role in a new TV movie based on a horrific real-life event that took place in West Virginia.
Presley Allard, 12, performs in Would You Kill For Me? The Mary Bailey Story.
The motion picture, which premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. on Lifetime, shows what happened to a family that was terrorized by an abusive husband and dad.
When the man threatened to kill his wife in Feb. 1987, she gave her young daughter a gun and convinced her to shoot her stepfather, resulting in both the girl and her mom being charged with murder.
Twists and turns follow the shooting.
Allard plays the role of 11-year-old Mary, who wrote a memoir published in 2020 – My Mother's Soldier – about the circumstances in which she was raised, and how they culminated in such a chilling outcome.
The movie is executive-produced by Melissa Joan Hart, perhaps best known as the title character in the former long-running TV sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who also performs as the child's grandmother.
Olivia Scriven, a star in the TV series Degrassi and Degrassi: Next Class plays the role of her mother.
Allard's acting talents were discovered while competing in the Monologue Slam Canada virtual competition, after which she went on to win the World Monologue Games, a global acting competition.
"It was around COVID, and we were really bored at home, and wanted to try something new. So I entered in an online competition, and an agent scouted me. He's been getting me a whole bunch of roles, and he's the best agent I could ask for," she said Wednesday in an interview.
The youngster appeared in Unperfect Christmas Wish (2021), followed by Sorry About the Demon (2022) and Good Sam (2022) before landing her first lead role performing as Mary Bailey.
The Grade 8 student believes she first developed a taste for acting when she attended a Magnus Theatre summer camp several years ago.
"I think it did, because every time I left Magnus, I would always feel so happy and bright."
The part she was given in her latest movie was a challenge, naturally, because of the difficult subject matter.
She said "It's a hard role to go on, especially as a 12-year-old. But if you really embrace it and know what you're getting into, I feel like it's a bit easier."
Allard didn't get the opportunity to read Mary Bailey's book, but she viewed some documentaries and did research online, and met Bailey when she visited the set while the movie was being shot in the Ottawa area last spring.
She was somewhat intimidated, she said, about working alongside big-name stars.
"It was at first scary because I wanted to be really good for them, and I wanted them to see what I can do. But as I got there, they were so kind and caring and welcoming, and I felt like they were just my friends, and I didn't have to put on anything or an act to be around them. I learned from them to just be yourself."
Allard said her goals for now are just to keep improving, and over the longer term to perhaps make it to Hollywood.
Her mom, Brandy, told TBnewswatch "She doesn't really need to be having a career aspiration at this age. But if this is what's making her happy right now, and she enjoys doing this as an extracurricular, I'm happy to support her. And if at any point it becomes something she doesn't enjoy, then she could make that choice to move on to something else."
The family will gather on the weekend with relatives and friends to watch the movie on TV.
NOTE: If you are the victim of family violence, a link to some helpful resources can be found online here.