Monica won first place in traditional cartooning at the Academy of Art Spring Festival in San Francisco in 2012, and has been shown at the Savannah International Animation Festival, the Animation Hall of Fame Film Festival in Orlando and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, where Bailee received a “Rising Star” award.
After roles in ABC’s Once Upon A Time as young Snow White and in Parental Guidance with Crystal and Bette Midler, the teen has a kaleidoscopic schedule of meetings in Los Angeles and film shoots on location.
Still a part-time resident of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Bailee is a virtual-school seventh grader. She stays connected with Christ Church School via tutoring sessions with curriculum coordinator Chris Kelly when she is in town.
“I have a fantastic family that reminds me every day where I came from,” she says. “My mom always says the moment I change, the U-Haul is already packed to go back to Florida.”
In 2011, she began volunteering at Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which encourages children to run their own stands to raise money to find a cure for childhood cancer. She also visits pediatric cancer wards at hospitals in Miami and Los Angeles with the Starlight Foundation, and has made videos for Give Kids the World in Orlando.
“I honestly feel very blessed that I can stand in the background watching her,” says her mother, Patricia Riley. “I feel like her heart is true and she genuinely cares for children who are less fortunate.”
Bailee says she knows fame can be fleeting, and she wants to use hers as a platform.
“Kids helping kids, it’s all a very hands-on way to teach at an early age that you can make a difference,” she says.
The same sentiment is at the heart of Monica, says Cabrera.
“It’s more than an anti-bullying message. It’s about embracing who you are as you are learning how to be you, versus what others think you are.”