A 13-year-old Riverton Middle School student who has been acting professionally since she was 7 is a central character in Central Wyoming College’s upcoming production of The Magdalen Whitewash, a moving play about Irish asylums that imprisoned girls for being pregnant out of wedlock.
Kirstin Dorn plays the role of young Mary, who is sent to a Magdalen asylum when she becomes pregnant by her father. The play opens in the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Theatre with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Dec. 2 and 7:30 p.m. performances are scheduled for Dec. 6, 7 and 8.
Kirstin, who is concurrently preparing for her eighth movie role while rehearsing for the CWC play, launched her career by winning a regional “Best New Talent” contest in Utah. Her mom, Kristi Dorn-Billin, carefully screens scripts before allowing her daughter to take on a role.
“She only does movies that are appropriate,” Dorn-Billin said. While the Valerie Goodwin play has some sexual overtones, mom was okay with Kirstin taking the role. “I felt she was mature enough to handle it.”
The play, which has only been seen in the U.S. twice before, tells the stories of eight “Maggies,” Irish girls who were locked away for life to work in laundries for not only out-of-wedlock pregnancies, but for being sexually assaulted or abused by relatives, or simply because they were just too pretty and alluring to men.
Director Mike Myers was familiar with Kirstin’s talents from past roles she’s played in CWC productions. “It’s a very demanding role,” he said. “I needed someone who could do it that looked like she was 13.”
The young actor is busy throughout the year acting in commercials, television and movie roles. Each summer, mom packs up Kirstin and her younger siblings to audition for parts in California. Kirstin may get called during the school year to do a part yet she manages to stay on top of her studies while working on set.
“She will only do movies that she’s allowed to watch,” said Dorn-Billin, who also has a role in Magdalen Whitewash. “I support her and make sure everything is the way it should be. I make sure she’s having fun. If she’s not having fun, she’s done.”
Most of Kirstin’s classmates are unaware that they have an award-winning actor in the school. She won the Movie Guide Grace Award for the most inspirational performance in television for her role in a Hallmark Channel movie A Christmas Wish. Other nominees for the award included Betty White, Laurence Fishburne, Gary Sinese, and Kristy Swanson.
Despite the accolades and consistent work, Kirstin is grounded. “I’m definitely not a diva,” said a poised Kirstin. “I like to be an inspiration to other people.” She said her family, friends and her church prevent her from making the missteps of child stars. “She’s highly successful and has no ego at all,” Myers said.
She enjoys working with the college students in the CWC theater productions. “In a way, they are looking up to her,” Dorn-Billin said. “She’s already on the path that they would like to be on.”
Tickets for The Magdalen Whitewash are $8 for adults, and youth and senior tickets are $6. Tickets may be ordered online at www.tickets.cwc.edu or by calling 855-2002.