Poly Student Actress Lands “Wizards” Role
FRANKEN-GIRL. Selena Gomez, star of “Wizards of Waverly Place” (left), poses with Perry Mattfeld (right) on the Disney show’s set. —Photo courtesy of Constance Tillotson

    Perry Mattfeld admits being a 5’-10” girl in high school has its awkward moments.

    But the 15-year-old sophomore at Long Beach Polytechnic High School used her height to her advantage when it came to winning a role this summer on one of her favorite Disney shows, “The Wizards of Waverly Place.”

    Mattfeld said her role of “Franken-Girl” required two hours in hair and makeup each morning to attach the Frankenstein-like prosthetics including a fake forehead and bolts. Mattfeld’s manager, Constance Tillotson, said Disney casting executives had difficulties in finding a tall teenage actress who was capable of delivering the high level of physical comedy required for Franken-Girl.

    In the first episode of “Wizards’” third season that aired Friday, Oct. 9, Mattfeld’s character is created by Justin Russo (played by David Henrie) to help prevent his sister, Alex Russo (Selena Gomez), from invading his room. The Russo siblings are wizards, but are not supposed to use their magical powers without supervision.

    However, Franken-Girl and Alex become best friends and Franken-Girl tries out for the cheerleading squad at Alex’s school. Mattfeld’s character possesses superhuman strength and breaks doors, water fountains and other objects at school.

    “I showed up to the audition with my hair in two knots and a blue cheerleading uniform to make myself become Franken-Girl,” said Mattfeld, who is a member of Poly’s Varsity Cheer squad. “I did a monster cheer at the audition and it was really freaky and weird. The director told me he watches my audition tape all the time because it’s really funny.”

    Franken-Girl also will appear in the fourth episode of “Wizards” airing Friday, Oct. 30. Mattfeld said her character might appear in future episodes of the show, which airs 8 p.m. Fridays on the Disney Channel.

    Mattfeld, who was born and raised in Long Beach, said she started singing and dancing at 3 years old and has performed in local musical theater productions. In the American Girl Show at The Grove in Los Angeles, Mattfeld played “Kit” and “Kirsten” from 2005 to 2007.

    Now Mattfeld spends Saturdays in Los Angeles studying acting at Tillotson’s studio. At Poly, Mattfeld is an honors student and involved in the advanced drama class. She plans to perform in the school’s theater productions next year.

    “In the studio, Perry is a constant source of inspiration for other actors,” Tillotson said. “She pushes herself to evolve as an artist and has a positive outlook to help other actors’ levels evolve.”

    Mattfeld attributes her success in acting to her family’s support. Shelley Garcia, Mattfeld’s mother, said the family has discussed moving out of Long Beach to be closer to auditions in Los Angeles, but the family considers Long Beach their home.

    “I hope to stick with (acting) for the rest of my life,” Mattfeld said. “I’d like to be in a feature film soon. A goal of mine is to win an Oscar when I’m in my 20s.”

    For details about the show, visit tv.disney.go.com/disneychannel/wizardsofwaverlyplace/.

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