REDLANDS - From Redlands Unified's "Got Talent" competition to the silver screen.

Former Cope Middle School student Ellie Soufi, 14, can be heard in the new Dreamworks film "Rise of the Guardians."

She also continues to focus on her studies at The Orange County School for the Arts in Santa Ana.

Ellie has placed and won several Inland Empire competitions, including taking home the top prize in the first-ever Redlands Unified "Got Talent" competition.

Born in Lebanon, Ellie lived in England much of her childhood. She began performing at age 3.

At a young age, Ellie found herself center stage in several theater productions, including "Mary Poppins" and "The Little Princess."

Though she lived in Redlands, she applied to attend school in Orange County. Once accepted, Ellie and her family moved from Redlands to Corona del Mar.

They remain frequent visitors to Redlands and still have a home in the area, said Ellie's mother Sharon Soufi, 31.

"It's really fun to get out there and be closer to home," Ellie said. "A lot of my friends (are in Redlands), and it is really great to see everyone and have their support."

Being cast in "Guardians" was a shock to Ellie.

Ellie plays a British girl in a scene featuring The Easter Bunny, who is voiced by actor and theater veteran Hugh Jackman.

Ellie spent several hours in a soundbooth at Dreamworks filming her scene, which she called a "great experience."

"It was such an amazing opportunity that I got to do it," she said. "And I hope I get to do more of that It was really unbelievable."

Ellie is also in the midst of rehearsing with her new band, The Diversions.

A solo artist for years, Ellie decided to go another route and join other talented teens to encourage friendship and the message of unity.

Besides performing, the group will release their first music video on YouTube in January. The group hopes to visit area schools to talk about bullying, Ellie said.

"We are very supportive of each other. We sing songs together, and we have that friendly support," Ellie said. "This is a lot of fun and I can't wait to get this started."

When not studying, Ellie is a typical teenager.

She enjoys watching talent competitions such as FOX's "The X Factor" and Lifetime's "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition."

"It's the best show," she said.

She also likes returning to Redlands.

"It's been a while, because I am juggling school to get down there," she said. "But whenever I get days off, I do."

Ellie is also a big advocate of encouraging others her age to go for their dreams, and her message is loud and clear - never give up.

"You will hear a million `nos,' but when you hear those yesses, it's a gleam of hope," she said. "Trust yourself, and never forget that your friends and family will always be your number one supporter."

Follow Ellie's journey at elliesoufi.com.


Reach Kristina via email, or call her at 909-793-3221, or find her on Twitter @TheFactsKris.