Macon native appears in new release “Paranoia”

lfabian@macon.comAugust 16, 2013 

Dennisha Pratt set her sights on stardom as a young girl growing up in Macon.

Singing in the Macedonia Baptist Church choir at age 3 helped set the stage nearly three decades later for her first film credit in “Paranoia.”

The 1999 graduate of Mount de Sales Academy plays Liam Hemsworth’s assistant in the high tech thriller that puts his character between powerful billionaire rivals played by Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman.

“The shoot was awesome,” Pratt said. “I had my own trailer and I felt all fancy.”

Although her lines were exclusively with Hemsworth, she did not get an opportunity to get to know Miley Cyrus’ fiance, who met his bride-to-be while filming “The Last Song” on Tybee Island.

“He was very nice and very polite,” Pratt said. “He was very focused and very much in his character, so there wasn’t much interaction.”

Apparently there’s even less dialogue between them in the final production.

“My scenes were cut,” Pratt said Friday after attending Thursday night’s premiere in Philadelphia, where much of the movie was shot.

Her name still appears as “Adam’s Eikon Assistant” in the credits.

She can be seen sitting outside his office, but someone else’s voice was dubbed over her character’s only line that remained in the movie.

It is her hand and the back of her head you see when someone else says: “Mr. Goddard wants to see you.”

Due to a delay in production, she was 31 weeks pregnant and really showing, so her real-life pregnancy was written into the script.

Her character Evelyn was said to be “working for two.”

Baby girl Charis was born six months ago, about a year and a half after she and husband, Chris Pratt, had 2-year-old Declan.

The couple met at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she got her degree in human development and family studies.

After living in Baltimore for a while, they moved to New York City for her to pursue acting.

She began auditioning and studying her craft, which landed her featured roles in “As the World Turns,” “Guiding Light” and “Ugly Betty.”

Her career really took root when she moved to Philadelphia in 2009 after being cast as a host of “The Sunny Side Up Show” on the Sprout network for children.

She also was hired for NBC’s “The More You Know” feature.

“I was blown away that I got to be part of such an amazing campaign that I grew up with,” Pratt said.

She landed the role of a newscaster in “Political Animals,” Sigourney Weaver’s limited series shot in Philly for the USA Network.

Friday, Appling Middle School counselor LaPrincess Vinson had Sprout on in her office so she could see her daughter’s live, three-hour show.

“I’m so proud, there’s no words to express it,” said Vinson, who is now known as “Dennisha’s mom.”

Vinson’s students are fascinated that her daughter is on national television, but the longtime educator knows success did not come easy.

“She’s a model child who never gave me an ounce of trouble, and has never had a whipping in her life,” Vinson said of her only child.

Vinson’s late evangelist father, Samuel Dixon, gave his granddaughter a strong, spiritual foundation, she said.

Pratt has benefited from caring teachers at Progressive Christian Academy, St. Peter Claver, Tinsley Elementary, Miller Middle School and Jean Weaver’s Dance Arts Studio.

“Every one of those wonderful professionals touched her life in some way,” Vinson said. “She’s had so many people along the way.”

Donna Washburn, choral director at Mount de Sales, is one of them.

“Every bit of acclaim and all the wonderful opportunities she will be getting are the result of her hard work and determination,” Washburn said. “She’s a wonderful young lady. She was just a very sweet, very talented student.”

Pratt continues to learn and recently studied with Will Smith’s acting coach, Dustin Felder.

She was on the set of Smith’s “After Earth” as a crowd scene extra, but isn’t sure she made the final production.

During a recent session with Felder, they talked about what her film experiences taught her about the business.

After the director yells, “Cut,” your hard work may not see the light of cinema.

She’s not giving up, though. Her mother taught her to “go for it,” a message she reiterates to her own kids.

“I love movies. That’s where I want to be,” she said. “I hope the next time it will definitely be my part and my voice on the screen.”

To contact Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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