The homework, the glory days and the rising stardom

Brighton Hertford’s bookbag isn’t just crammed with the typical 10-pound school books, but scripts and scenes from major productions as well.

Hertford, a freshman studying theater at the U, has been in the television industry since elementary school. Hertford’s come a long way since then: she’s starring as Melissa Steed in the recent theatrical release “The Work and the Glory.”

Hertford, who’s currently focusing more on stage acting than film, is also focusing more on school than acting. But after she auditioned for “The Work” at her agent’s suggestion, her schedule’s been especially packed-“The Work and The Glory” was the largest Utah-based film production pulled-off, period.

While “The Work and The Glory” doesn’t have any endorsement from the LDS Church, the film-produced by Larry H. Miller-does involve LDS history.

“I made sure it wasn’t like ‘The RM’ or ‘Singles Ward,’ which are fine in what they’re trying to do, but that’s not the direction I wanted to go,” Hertford said.

The film is the story of the Steed family’s oldest two sons fighting for the affection of the same girl. Hertford plays the oldest daughter in the Steed family, and tries to sway her brothers’ love interest toward one rather than the other.

However, it’s a role she didn’t think she was going to get.

Figuring that she hadn’t been chosen for the role after such a long wait to hear back from producers, all it took was one very random, but very life-changing call. Hertford soon found herself shooting on location in Tennessee.

“It was like another world,” she said of the town located 30 minutes out of Knoxville, Tenn. “Things just moved really slow, and waitresses would sit down next you and take your order.”

Playing a girl growing up before electricity was different from her other roles, which have included playing Barbara Jean Jones on “General Hospital” alongside Ricky Martin.

“I died in a bus accident in that show, and Ricky Martin was the one who tried to rescue me. It was pretty neat,” she said.

Getting used to the pace of Southern life and a new type of role weren’t the only adjustments Hertford had to make. Hertford was a senior in high school at the time, and she was living out of a hotel room with her mother and receiving private tutoring.

“They only had one local tutor for me and for the really little kids in the film. It was hard to focus,” she said.

But Hertford not only managed to focus on work-she came to love and bond with many in the cast, especially her on-screen mother, Brenda Strong.

“She knew so much about everything-every religion, politics, whatever, but she was so nurturing and friendly and fun to be around,” she said.

While Hertford would like that breadth of knowledge, she’s pursuing a more focused goal with the U’s Actor Training Program.

She began a recurring role on “Everwood” through the summer, but her character is on hiatus while the show focuses on other storylines.

“I’ve told my agent I’m just really focused on school right now,” she said.

She also wants to train for the stage rather than the big screen. Both of her parents were involved in theater-her mother as an actress and her father as a director.

She moved to Utah two-and-a-half years ago with her mother.

“If I wanted to go into acting in television or film, I would have stayed in California because that’s where all of the jobs are,” she said.

She’s enjoying her Introduction to Theater and scenography classes in the Acting Training Program. But don’t mistake Hertford as being an exception to the norms of college life: Hertford is also going through the hoops of a Writing 1010 class.

It might be assumed that with a career already on the rise, people would be taking tips from her. On the contrary: Hertford knows that there’s far more work for her to have and glory for her to eventually take in.

“My roots are in theater,” said Hertford. “I still have so much to learn,”

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