Last year, 10-year-old Christopher Rivera was living in a motel in one of Orlando’s poorer neighborhoods.
Then he was discovered by the indie film producers behind “The Florida Project” and given a featured role in the movie that has earned co-star Willem Dafoe a best supporting actor Oscar nomination at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
“The Florida Project” is a drama about impoverished families living at a motel in the shadow of Walt Disney World.
An Oscar might not be in Christopher’s immediate future, but a college scholarship is. Rollins College, a private college in Winter Park not far from where “The Florida Project” was filmed in Kissimmee, has promised the young, new actor a full scholarship, the school reported.
The scholarship offer, a partnership between Rollins, the film’s producers and indie studio A24, is Christopher’s if he wants it when he’s ready to attend college. He is the youngest recipient of a full four-year scholarship in the liberal arts school’s 133-year history, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“The Florida Project” producers spotted Christopher outside his home at The Paradise Inn motel not far from Walt Disney World. He was cast as Scooty, a friend of the 6-year-old main character Moonee, played by child actress Brooklynn Prince.