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Celina Smith said auditioning via video for NBC‘s Annie Live! was far more daunting than an in-person audition in front of producers and casting agents.

Like many actors during the pandemic, Smith auditioned for the key role of Annie Bennett for NBC’s live production of the Broadway classic Annie via video. The televised show was performed live as part of NBC’s holiday programming. Smith was one of many young hopefuls vying for the coveted and recently recalled her audition with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. And she shared that the audition-by-video was definitely a first for her.

Celina Smith said it was different to audition in front of a video camera

Smith said she was excited about the possibility of playing Annie but admitted filming all of her auditions was strange. Like many actors, Smith said she gets the typical butterflies in her stomach for an audition. But, “It was nerve-wracking at a point because I wasn’t actually doing it in front of a bunch of people,” she said.

Celina Smith poses as Annie for NBC's Annie Live!
Celina Smith as Annie | Paul Gilmore/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Not being able to see the director or casting agent’s reaction made it harder to know how the audition was received. So when she was given the part, Smith said she was shocked. “I really wasn’t expecting it at all,” she exclaimed. “So when I heard the news that I was going to play Annie, I was just kind of shocked. Because I would not have expected that in a million years. But I was so glad when I got the news and it was a dream come true!”

She shared how she felt to sing ‘Tommorrow’

Becoming Annie meant that Smith would put her mark on the signature song, “Tomorrow.” And while each actor who has played Annie has made the song her own, Smith said she didn’t want to put her mark on the song. “I never tried to make it my own,” she said. “Instead, I wanted to sing it the regular way, same melody, tempo and all of that.”

Once she got on stage, performance jitters hit. But that allowed her to truly lean into the song and make it her own. “But when I got on stage, I guess I started to feel it because I was worried I was going to mess up,” she said. “Or I was going to crack or do something bad. But when I got on stage and started to warm up, all the bad stuff just went away. And I guess that’s how I added my own spin to it, but I was never trying to make it my own.”

She also noted how different it felt to do a live televised show since she’s done both on stage and television in the past. Adding, “It was really cool actually.”

Celina Smith recently returned to the ‘Young Dylan’ set

Smith has already proved to be a triple threat as an actor, dancer, and vocalist. And while she can do it all, does she prefer one discipline over the others? “If I had to choose, I guess it would be singing because that’s what I started with,” she said.

But she also loves acting and shared she was especially excited to be back on set of Tyler Perry‘s Young Dylan. The Nickelodeon series shoots in her hometown of Atlanta and she said it’s the best of both worlds because she can be with her Young Dylan family and still be home.


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“I get a little nervous at first when I go back on set that I’m going to mess up my lines,” she said. “But that never happens because my family is there with me every single day on the set. And I have to remind myself even if I do mess up, I have my family here to cover me.” She credits her parents and family as being her greatest support system. “I really love my family to death,” she said. “And just having them around every day really takes the stress off of my back.”