When you're Jackie Evancho, the milestones come in waves.
This month alone, Jackie turned 13, performed in Taiwan with Spanish tenor Jose Carreras in front of a rain-soaked but riveted crowd of 30,000 and, oh yes, made her movie debut.
She plays Robert Redford's daughter, Isabel Grant, in "The Company You Keep." The drama opened in limited release April 5 and has been adding theaters each week, including the Cinemark locations in Robinson, Frazer and Center Township along with Waterworks Cinemas, AMC-Loews at the Waterfront, SouthSide Works Cinema, Manor in Squirrel Hill, Galleria in Mt. Lebanon and Carmike 15 in Greensburg today.
Mr. Redford discovered her on a PBS pledge programming showcase. It turned out he and "Company You Keep" co-star Susan Sarandon separately were watching the same special.
In March 2012, Ms. Sarandon told the Post-Gazette: "I went in the next day and I was talking about her, and he said, 'Oh my God, is that that girl? I saw her, too. Do you think she could play my daughter?' And the next thing I knew, they'd gotten an audition tape flown in, and she's in the movie, but she got there after I left."
Mr. Redford and Jackie look like (later in life) father and daughter and share an easy rapport on screen. They didn't have the luxury of spending time together ahead of shooting but carved out some during production.
"After I sent the audition tape in, I went and I filmed and we spoke a little bit before filming but it was mainly getting to know each other while we were filming," Jackie said in a phone call this week. "It was nice, though, there was a lot of time for waiting, so we got to know each other."
And just what is Robert Redford like?
"I was kind of surprised at how gracious he was. A star being as big and legendary as he is, I would assume you'd have a bit of an attitude or something but he was very gracious and down to earth and understanding. And he is such a nice person."
He not only stars in "The Company You Keep" but directs it and gave Jackie some guidance on her character, Isabel. The girl's mother, 48, was killed in a car accident and she lives with her widowed father (Mr. Redford), a lawyer who is actually a former radical and fugitive in Albany, N.Y.
Mr. Redford saw Isabel, 11, as a sad and, then, confused character. "She lost her mom, she hasn't fully recovered from that and then her dad disappears and she has no idea what's going on. And all she really has is the hope that he's coming back," Jackie said.
For some acting newcomers, saying the same lines over and over until the director is satisfied, can drain their energy and enthusiasm but Jackie took advantage of the multiple takes.
"It actually wasn't that difficult for me because you're not very familiar with the line when you first begin it because you don't know what's going to happen. So, once you say it and you get the feel of it a few times after you say it, then you start to nail the line."
Jackie is open to more acting gigs, if they come her way, but she has plenty on her plate in the meantime.
The Richland singing sensation who rose to prominence on NBC's "America's Got Talent" has concerts scheduled for Providence, R.I., Cleveland, Baltimore, Alpharetta, Ga., and St. Petersburg between now and early June. She confesses to getting nervous before going out on stage -- she usually doesn't peek out to see the audience -- but says a prayer or two ahead of time.
She is searching for songs, especially original material, for a new CD and there's the little matter of seventh grade, which she handles through online instruction. Like students in brick-and-mortar schools, Jackie is looking forward to a break this summer although hers may be just a month-long.
Jackie always has to be careful about the volume of her voice or boosting her immune system if she gets a cold. In other words, no screaming, even at her siblings if they do something obnoxious or she's on a roller coaster with her stomach doing somersaults.
In fact, asked what she might do in Pittsburgh if she had a free day, she picks a trio of winners: Kennywood Park, the Carnegie Science Center and the Milkshake Factory.
And maybe an evening with the TV show she tries to never miss: "The Walking Dead," set in a desolate and postapocalyptic world of survivors and zombies.
"I love that TV show. It's pretty gruesome, I know, but it's just really realistic makeup and the acting is great and it brings our family together. We usually watch it all the time."
Makes sense when you remember Pittsburghers always have had a soft spot in their heart, or head, for zombies.