Christa's Like Any 11-Year-Old Girl, Except She's A Star
She's just the kind of girl you'd like for your best friend.
That's the verdict from the 8-year-old half of this writing team, a devoted fan of the newest Disney child star, Christa Larson.
Christa is in town today for a round of appearances with Minnie Mouse at Westlake Center, where the pair will meet youngsters and sign autographs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Yesterday was meet-the-press day for the winsome 11-year-old, who fielded a barrage of questions from her Seattle fan Maren: How do you have time for dance lessons and sports? Do you like having school with a tutor? Do you ever watch TV? What's your favorite color?
It's a good thing Christa has had years of training in answering questions, ever since her career took off as an 8-year-old doing a two-year nationwide tour of ``Les Miserables.'' The Disney people selected her after auditions for a singing and dancing star to become Disney's latest promotable talent; her first album, ``Minnie 'n Me,'' came out last August, and a single-song video (``The Girls on Minnie's Street'') has been playing on the Disney Channel in recent weeks.
Seattle is one of 10 stops on a promotion tour, where Christa and Minnie (the life-size version you may have met at Disneyland or Disney World) meet and greet their young fans. Though Christa turned 11 last Fourth of July, she has fans of many ages, from 4 to around 35 (parents are particularly fond of the song's message, which has girls having fun just being girls, instead of trying to act like older teen-agers).
On Christmas day, Christa is scheduled to be on a float at Disney World's Christmas parade (her family, including Mom, Dad and 14-year-old sister, also will come along). All this touring and traveling means it's difficult to get to school, so Christa travels with a tutor.
``I do lots of math homework,'' she says with a roll of the eyes, ``decimals, long division, algebra . . . I hate algebra. But it beats being in school, because I only have tutoring three hours a day!''
Her course work includes material from sixth- through ninth-grade levels. When there's time for TV, her favorite shows are ``Full House'' and ``Family Matters.'' She started tap-dancing at 4; she's never had a voice lesson (though there have been some coaching sessions for the video and the tour), and she answers every single fan letter.
And her favorite song on the ``Minnie 'n Me'' album is ``Anything I Dream,'' whose lyrics start out, ``I can be anything I dream/ Here in my own world, it's only up to me.''
Christa is making those words come true. A natural performer, she's also just a straightforward kid without an ounce of artifice or affectedness. Even on the ``Les Mis'' tour, where she had to face the public in eight shows a week, motivation was never a problem.
``My older sister is proud of me,'' she says. ``Her friends have pictures of me up in their lockers. She doesn't want to do these things, though, like singing and being in shows. She's really very shy.''
Christa isn't shy.
``The only bad part about meeting all these people,'' she says of sessions such as the all-day one today at Westlake Center, ``is that my hand gets tired, writing all those autographs, and my feet get a little tired, too. Look: Here's how I do it'' - and onto the paper emerges a fanciful, swirly version of ``Christa'' with a heart. It takes a long time. It's done with care. This girl is a real perfectionist (``I want it to look just right'').
And her favorite color?
Teal blue, with black a close second. She picked out a teal-blue sweater for her mom, Denise, who travels with her and who makes all her Minnie 'n Me costumes. What they'd both really like to do is develop a clothing line for children, designed by Christa and called ``Christa's Closet.''
``We have some really neat ideas,'' she says. ``I love clothes.''
Hats, too. The youngster travels with three bowlers and owns nine back at home in Anaheim, where the family moved a year ago from St. Louis to further Christa's career. Her father, formerly a teacher and a coach, now is working in industrial real estate; just keeping up with Christa is a full-time job for her mother.
If you're imagining a precious junior movie star, think again. Christa acts just like any other girl her age - which is probably why young fans relate to her so well.
``C'mon! Let's go up and see my hotel room, and I'll show you some rocks from my collection!'' she says, and the two youngsters charge off across the hotel lobby to the elevators.
``Hurry, and we'll lock out our moms!''
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