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She fooled fans ... and is now famous
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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lonelygirl15 speaks!

And she says she's amazed at her newfound fame.

"I'm trying to deal with it right now," she said in a phone interview Thursday. "I'm not used to this much attention. It's a little bit crazy for me."

The actress who plays Bree on a hit Internet soap opera is Jessica Lee Rose, a 19-year-old who was born in Salisbury, Md., and moved to New Zealand when she was 8.

Just three months ago, she was one of thousands of struggling actors in Los Angeles looking to make it big in the movies or on a TV show.

Today, she is the unlikely star of a series of short Internet videos posted on Web sites such as YouTube and MySpace.

Suspicious fans

Rose was identified after fans of the "Lonelygirl15" videos began to suspect that Bree, the 16-year-old home-schooled precocious teen hosting the segments, didn't exist. Some fans who helped boost the popularity of the videos felt betrayed by what they feared was a hoax perpetrated by a big Hollywood studio to promote some upcoming film.

Amateur sleuths unearthed clues, and stories about the show appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other publications, finally forcing the three creators of the Lonelygirl videos to fess up.

While efforts were made to shield Rose's identity, she made her public debut Thursday.

Rose left New Zealand and returned to Maryland in 2005 after her parents split and later that year moved to Los Angeles to study acting at the New York Film Academy.

Ill-defined details

After graduating in April, she started scouring various Internet sites for auditions and came upon a listing on the Craigslist Web site for a project called "Children of Anchor Cove."

"At the time, I really didn't know what it was because there wasn't a lot of details on it," she said. "They just said it was an independent project."

After reading twice for the role, she was offered the part.

The show's creators made her sign a nondisclosure agreement, then told her the project was not a film or a TV pilot, but a series of Internet videos.

Rose became suspicious.

"I was hesitant because it's something I've never really seen done before," she said. "I just finished film school and had been taught to be careful of all the scams in L.A. and all the scary people and don't trust people. I was a little nervous."

Rose said she had never checked out YouTube and never watched a video blog. She began looking at the site after she got the part and became more comfortable with the project.

"I figured, what did I have to lose?" she said.

Rose said she pays close attention to comments made by fans and especially the angry response videos posted on YouTube after it was revealed that the Lonelygirl15 videos were not the authentic musings of a teenage girl.

Loyal to project

"I can understand their disappointment," she said. "I'm sure they did invest a lot of time in the Lonelygirl15 videos. I feel bad that they invested in it emotionally and were disappointed.

"But Bree is still a character, and she's still going to continue with this online series, and they can continue to watch if they like. You can't make everybody like you."

Rose said she still does not have an agent and has not yet been offered parts by big Hollywood studios. Her favorite actress is Nicole Kidman, and she says she would love to make the kind of movies made by another role model, Cameron Diaz.

"I'd love to be doing fun, goofy movies," she said, "feel-good movies that make people laugh and make people happy. I'd love to do some dramatic pieces later on."

But she vows she will stay with Lonelygirl15 as long as the project continues and won't leave to chase her newfound fame.

"I won't leave it. I won't leave them," she said.


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