Bergen County actress makes her live TV debut tonight in 'Annie'

·4 min read

The sun may come out tomorrow, but a petite Bergen County actress is making her live television debut tonight. Teaneck resident Sophie Knapp will perform in NBC's real-time broadcast of "Annie Live!" a presentation of the 1977 Broadway musical "Annie," starting at at 8 p.m. Knapp plays July, the sweet mother figure to her fellow orphans. She's surrounded by a stellar cast including Celina Smith as Annie, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan and Tituss Burgess as Rooster Hannigan.

Knapp is joined by a handful of other New Jersey performers, including Cate Elefante (Kate) of Florham Park, who has performed in "Waitress" on Broaday, and ensemble member Jadaya Bivins of Toms River.

To check out reactions to "Annie Live!" in real time, follow @ilanakeller on Twitter.

At 13, Knapp is no newcomer to acting. She has been cast in the Hulu series "Blindspot," the independent film "The Assistant," the horror film "Murder Manual" with Emilia Clarke of "Game of Thrones," and the movie "Brighton Beach" starring singer FKA Twigs. Recently, Knapp played Helene Haft in "The Survivor," a Barry Levinson-directed true story of Harry Haft, an Auschwitz inmate who boxed to survive; the cast includes Ben Foster, Peter Sarsgaard and John Leguizano, and will screen on HBO Max in early 2022.

Last year, (201) Magazine interviewed the 4-foot 5-inch rising star about her nascent career, and advice she has for kids who think they want to be actors. Read what she had to say below.

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How did you know that you wanted to act?

I always knew that I wanted to act because my grandma would always teach me little

cute songs when I was very young and I would LOVE to sing with her, and I already had a pretty good voice. Then when I was 4, I tried a singing lesson, and I knew at that moment that this is what I would do for my career — I loved every second of it, kept going, and developed a stronger voice. I made my Broadway debut in "Once" soon after that and I was super excited!

What’s been your favorite experience so far?

I’d say "Chasing Rainbows" at the Paper Mill Playhouse last year. I was part of the

show development and Broadway labs for a few years, so when we got to Paper Mill, we were all beyond excited. I had the time of my life. It was such an amazing experience, and I learned so much from being with my fellow actors and directors. My rhythm and timing improved so much, and I learned a ton from everyone and the music directors. In those couple of months, I got so close with the cast and the crew, and played such an iconic role. We are like a family. Even now, during COVID, we are in touch, performing

virtually together and so supportive of each other.

Have you met any celebrities and actors whose work you really love, and if so, how did you feel?

I’ve met with and worked with a couple of amazing people such as Sarah Silverman, Jaimie Alexander, Tina Fey, Billy Porter, Ben Foster, Meg Donnelly and Emmy Rossum. They are not only very famous actors, but they are also kind, which matters the most. They are so inspiring, and I always look up to them.

Are there any characters you'd really like to play one day?

I really would love to be Elphaba in "Wicked," because I love that show and the character. This is not a specific character, but I would also love to be a series regular because so far I’ve been a guest star and recurring (character), and it would be a dream come true if I get a series regular.

What advice do you have for other kids who want to be actors?

My advice is to GO FOR IT AND NEVER GIVE UP! Get a manager and an agent, go

in for lots of auditions, and take a bunch of lessons. And of course don’t be upset if you don’t get something that you really wanted because there are so many other roles for you. Good luck, and have fun.

What are your favorite places to eat in
Bergen? Favorite activities?

Wow. This is a hard question. But my fave places to eat are EJ’s because their food

(especially cheesy fries) is DELICIOUS; Schnitzel Plus because I love their burgers and fries; and Rita’s because their ices are amazing — the best is cotton candy. My favorite activities are dance, gymnastics, singing, playing games such as Catan with my siblings, and swimming.

Cindy Schweich Handler is the editor of Montclair and Wayne Magazines, and a writer for The Record and who frequently covers health issues. Email:; Twitter: @CindyHandler

This article originally appeared on 'Annie Live!' on NBC tonight stars Teaneck teen actress

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