A 12-year-old Waxahachie girl will get her moment on national TV on Friday night at 8 p.m. when an episode of ABC's long-running "What Would You Do?" reality series airs on WFAA Channel 8.
The story behind how young Annabeth Furlow got in front of the camera is perhaps just as interesting as the episode on which she will appear — and may also be a road map for future aspiring young George Clooneys and Jennifer Anistons.
"What Would You Do?" debuted in early 2008 and is in its 14th season. Hosted by John Quiñones, the show, using a hidden camera, depicts how ordinary people behave when they are confronted with dilemmas that require them either to take action or to walk by and mind their own business.
Annabeth's mom, Heather Furlow, said Annabeth was booked back in February by ABC Productions for the show, which was filmed in Alabama.
"We drove her 12 hours to this audition per her agent because it was an in-person audition, and drove 12 hours straight back not knowing if she would book or not," Furlow said. "Our family sacrifices every day for her to be able to take opportunities as they come, and it's not always easy ... This was one of those times, but (I'm) so glad we were able to make it happen. She was up against hundreds of other kids, and by the time we drove home her agent called to say she got it!
"We then had to drive back to Alabama to film it two weeks later, and she worked a grueling 10-hour day," Furlow added. "She was such a little pro getting mic'd up and interviewed for the first time. She worked with an earpiece so producers could communicate with her. "
The show centers around scenarios that are put into play unbeknownst to people, and they wait and see if someone will step in and intervene and ask them why they did what they did and what motivated them to do so.
The one scenario Annabeth didn't want to do was the one she ended up booking for — the bully in a racially-charged scenario ripped from the headlines.
This is where it should be pointed out that acting and real life are two distinctly separate things.
"She initially hoped she wouldn't have to bully a kid from another race because our family is blended and she has biracial cousins, plus her friends at school … a very diverse group," Heather Furlow said. "We all talked about it, and I told her everyone knows what their job is, so go in and do the best you can. She had only met those kids the day of filming and the production crew at ABC was very good at getting the group of them to blend and mesh well. They also had all the kids sit down and talk about the day's events and bullying. She had a wonderful experience despite having to confront angry adults all day.
"She was so brave getting people riled up and getting them involved and took people yelling at her like a champ," she added. "It really was so hard to watch, but they all did so well."
Annabeth already has an IMDb profile with seven credits, mostly in shorts, with one full-length credit in the 2018 movie "Church of Fears" in which she is listed as playing the role of "Creatures." Her first television credit for "WWYD" will soon be added.
Heather Furlow said her daughter has done a lot of local work — "She hated improv at first and had to work really hard in class to overcome it," she said — and was scouted by a well-known acting coach in Los Angeles which led them to some of the best of the best to train.
Annabeth has been asked repeatedly to audition for Disney and Nickelodeon and, last year, a pilot for ABC.
"We know even though she doesn't book those roles, being requested to audition is huge," her mom said. "They say for every breakdown/audition, casting gets 3,000 submissions, and out of those only maybe 75 will be asked to submit a self tape, so I tell her that's a win in itself."
Much like Matthew McConaughey is associated with Austin, Jennifer Lopez with the Bronx or the late Prince with Minneapolis, maybe one day Annabeth Furlow will be an acclaimed star synonymous with the great city of Waxahachie.
"This is her first big win and her first national TV appearance," Heather Furlow said. "In acting there isn't a lot of validation like sports, where you win or get trophies and ribbons, so this was a huge win for her."