May 25, 2006

Teenage girls hope for filmstar glory in Cannes

By Kerstin Gehmlich

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Teenagers Jamila and Claudia
spent weeks choosing their outfits for the Cannes film
festival. Now they line the beach with hundreds of other girls,
hoping to be discovered.

"I want to be part of the jet set crowd. I want to be a
VIP," said 15-year-old Claudia Sorrentino, wearing a miniskirt
and skinny top as she scanned Cannes' main Croisette boulevard
for famous actors and producers.

Competition among the filmstar wannabes is stiff as swarms
of young girls descend on Cannes, hoping for a chance encounter
with actors like Bruce Willis or Keanu Reeves or to be
discovered by one of the many directors in town.

Claudia said the main thing was to stand out from the

"You mustn't have any shame. Try to get into every party.
And just talk to anyone who looks vaguely important," she said.

"Be special," said her friend Jamila Smoini, 19, who works
in a home for the elderly in southern Toulon while dreaming of
a Hollywood career. "Even before the festival, we think about
what to wear, how to style our hair."

Although the girls are determined to keep pestering doormen
and spend hours strutting past giant yachts and exclusive
parties to get noticed, starlets who have actually made it to
the top doubt the girls' strategy will pay off.

"You need good connections or be very lucky to have someone
spot you on the beach. It happens but it's not very usual,"
said Jelena Mandic, a model from Serbia, as she walked past
crowds of teenaged girls on the sun-kissed boulevard.

"You have a million pretty girls, but only one of them will
become a top model. The others are just surviving," Mandic told
Reuters, adding she advised the teenagers to be realistic.

"Stay true to yourself. Finish school, university. That's
it. Try to do a lot of things in life. The modeling and the
acting is not the most important and only thing in life."


Dita von Teese, the burlesque-dancing wife of shock-rocker
Marilyn Manson, said to make yourself known it was important
not to go with the mainstream, but to develop your own style.

"There are so many young beautiful starlets," she told
Reuters. "How great would it be if they did not always pay
attention to what was the right and appropriate thing to wear?
If they just let loose and wore what they really wanted to

School girls Lisa and Amelie, wearing sunglasses and tight
jeans, said they cared about their clothes. But their special
trick to attract potential star-scouts was to break into song
on the street, the bus or on the beach, they said.

"It would be my dream to be on the front cover of a
magazine," said 15-year-old Amelie Bonfigio, starting a timidly
voiced song with Lisa as bemused tourists stood by.

Amelie said Italian actress Monica Bellucci was her idol.

Further down the boulevard, Claudia's plans to become
famous did not seem to be based on a successful acting or
singing career.

"To be honest, Paris Hilton is my perfect model," the
energetic teenager said, referring to the media-savvy hotel
heiress. "She has charm and is classy. She has everything. We
have nothing, really," she added.

Claudia said she was not angry at other girls trying to
grab the limelight at Cannes.

"In the end, we're all the same," she said.