NBC Casts 12-Year-Old Celina Smith as Lead in ‘Annie Live!’

Celina Smith and NBC Logo (Credit: NBC)

After a nationwide search, NBC has signed 12-year-old Celina Smith as Annie in the network’s upcoming holiday production of Annie Live!

“It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of the talented young ladies who have played Annie before me and I can’t wait to start this journey,” Smith said Tuesday in a statement.

NBC described the young actress as a “triple threat” in a press release. The Atlanta native began her showbiz career as Young Nala in the national touring company of “The Lion King” and can also be seen on the television series “Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan.”

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Smith is the latest addition to the star-studded Annie Live! cast, which includes Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace and Tituss Burgess as Rooster. As previously reported, Henson was cast in June.

“Annie” is one of the biggest hits in Broadway history. Based on the Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” the musical premiered on Broadway in 1977 and initially ran for over four years. On stage, Annie was previously played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Allison Smith. The musical won a string of Tony Awards and inspired two films.

In the upcoming NBC version, Celina Smith will perform the beloved songs “Maybe,” “Tomorrow” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” per NBC.

Annie Live! will be executive produced by Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Alex Rudzinsky; with Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski co-directing. Choreography will be led by Sergio Trujillo. The television special is produced by Chloe Productions. The live musical event will air Thursday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Smith is represented by Pantheon, J Pervis Talent Agency, AGI Entertainment and attorney Mark Temple.