Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story is the latest TV movie from Lifetime about the real-life abduction of a California teen in 2013. And casting teen characters can easily slip into disaster, either by casting someone too old, rendering the seriousness of the subject material ridiculous, or, pick a young person who's totally wrong for the part, so the question of who plays Hannah Anderson in Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story is a loaded one. The answer is actress Jessica Amlee, who does resemble the now 18 year-old Anderson. Both are blonde and look like extras from Bring It On, and hopefully Amlee can capture the internal conflict that led Anderson to keep her knowledge of James DiMaggio's "crush" on her secret from her parents and the steely resolve that helped her survive the week-long kidnapping in the Idaho wilderness.
Even though turning the film's conflict into whether or not Hannah was an active participant in her family's torture, death, and her own kidnapping feels like it may be in bad taste (just reading Lifetime's plot synopsis feels uncomfortable), that doesn't mean that this is any less of an opportunity to appreciate Jessica Amlee, the former teen, now 20-something star who will be playing the lead part. And even though the movie just looks like a regular Lifetime thriller, it could be a breakout role for Amlee. She's already an experienced actress, but this will be one of her first starring credits, especially in the States. You never know what will serve as a future star's first big TV role.
She's a Canadian Soap Star
Everything Canadian is naturally polite, sweet, and charming. Amlee, it can only stand to reason, is the teen actress equivalent of Drake. And, like Drake, she started her career on a Canadian drama, Heartland. She starred as Mallory Wells for the first five seasons of the show.
She Has A Socially Conscious Instagram Account
I know, it sounds bizarre, but Amlee seems devoted to disturbing the status quo... one Instagram at a time, from her feminist posts about women getting the vote to posting a selfie at a provocative art show exploring the imagery of racism.
And She Supports Better Mental Health Care
It's just a tweet in support of "Bell Let's Talk," a Canadian organization determined to break barriers around mental illness, but implicitly, it's supporting using her success as a chance to speak out about important things.
She's Both Old And Young Enough For The Part
Right now, Jessica Amlee is 20. That's the perfect age to play the 16 year-old Anderson in Kidnapped: The Jessica Anderson Story. As a child star, she knows how to play young, especially since she aged with her character Mallory for five years. But she's also old enough that she can hopefully balance all the elements of this story without it seeming too exploitative.
It won't be easy, but if Amlee is destined for a bigger career, she'll be able to take Kidnapped and turn it into a whole lot more.
Image: Jack Zeman/Hybrid LLC