East Greenbush First Years Star in Netflix Christmas Movie The Noel Diary

While Beckett Dollard’s friends munched on goldfish crackers, swung off the monkey bars during recess and practice simple sight words in the classroom, the boy from East Greenbush enjoyed a daily stretch on a movie set, courtesy of Craft Services, and stepped into the role of producer shouted “Action”. His schoolwork was done with an on-set teacher alongside another student.

Dollard plays Jake in Netflix’s The Noel Diary, which released on the streaming platform on Thanksgiving Day. In the film, writer Jacob Turner meets a woman who is searching for her birth mother. Will an old diary unlock their past — and their hearts, the teaser asks?

Turner is played by Justin Hartley on This is Us. Dollard plays a young gymnast in the many flashback scenes.

The first-grader from East Greenbush has been modeling since childhood and has appeared in ads for well-known brands such as GAP Kids, Target, Puma, Jordan, OXO Tot, Huggies and Crayola, but this was his first film.

“It’s huge,” says his mother, Natalie Dollard, of her son, who was 4 years old and about to graduate from preschool when he made the film. He is now 6 years old. “Toddlers tend to be a bit unpredictable, and children under 6 have very limited hours to work, so there are very few opportunities like this out there.”

While being on set is work, of course, it doesn’t feel like it for Beckett. He runs around, plays with the other child actors and takes classes. He’s enjoying it all – and he doesn’t quite understand why his life outside of school is in some ways different from his classmates’.

He recently came home from school and said, “Mom, did you know I am famous? A third grader told me,” recalls Natalie Dollard. He then asked what “famous” meant.

Beckett’s entertainment career began with a friend’s encouragement.

People kept telling the Dollards that their son was cute. Natalie and her husband, of course, agreed. (“Everybody thinks their own baby is the cutest thing ever, right,” she asks.)

Even when strangers commented on Beckett’s good looks, Natalie said she thought people gave those compliments just to be nice.

It wasn’t until the family were photographed by local photographers for the first few times that they realized Beckett was in his element, while most toddlers shut up in front of a camera (or outright refuse to participate). He was engaging and excited rather than shy or shy. He wasn’t moody even when tired and he didn’t need to warm up in new situations.

“He was one of those unicorn toddlers who was always happy,” says his mother. “I think he made up for the first three months when he cried 24 hours a day.”

After seeing the photos from the family shoot, a friend from college reached out to the Dollards. She told Beckett to try modeling and gave Natalie Dollard the name of an agent.

“I thought they were crazy, but we decided to email them with some pictures because we figured we’d never hear back from an answer and just move on with preschool and playdates,” says Natalie Dollard. “The agency responded less than 24 hours later that they were interested in representing him.”

The Dollards soon received an email with information about Beckett’s first “go-see” with a client. He ended up booking this job when he was two and a half and has been employed ever since.

However, this film was their best performance to date.

“I’m meeting my best friend Baylen. He’s my movie brother. We need to have fun, play games and go to school together,” says Beckett excitedly. “We had our own set teacher. Oh and smart. They have the BEST snacks. It was the most fun except we have to wear so much itchy warm clothes in the summer.”

Despite “working” at a young age, he is a normal kid who loves school (his favorite subject is math), friends and family. He takes up taekwondo and hopes to one day get a black belt.

“I’m really lucky to be an actress and a model. I have to work hard and focus, but it’s also a lot of fun,” says Beckett Dollard. “I meet new best friends all the time and we can play together when it’s not our turn. And I can always buy a new toy or Robux after the shoot.”

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