By Keysha Drexel
Just two years after he first signed with a talent agent, a Vestavia Hills third-grader is making his film debut and counting such Hollywood heavyweights as Robert Redford and Emma Thompson as his co-stars.
Tucker Meek stars in “The Santa Con,” a holiday film premiering on Lifetime Television at 7 p.m. Dec. 13.
And next year, audiences will see the young thespian flex his acting chops in scenes with Redford and Thompson as he plays their grandson in “A Walk in the Woods.”
With five feature films and several short films and commercials under his belt, the 8-year-old said he’s been paying attention to the buzz in Tinseltown as he plans his next career move.
“One day, I hope to get to work with Will Ferrell. He is one of my favorite actors,” Tucker said in an interview from Los Angeles last week. “I heard that there is going to be a Lego Movie 2. I loved the first one and consider myself a ‘Master Builder,’ so being in a Lego movie, especially if Will Ferrell was in it, would pretty much be a dream come true.”
Tucker’s acting career took off when he was 6 years old and wowed the judges at the Actors, Models and Talent for Christ Shine Convention in Orlando, Fla.
His mother and father, Lani and Derek, said Tucker has always been an expressive child, and when he showed an interest in acting, they let him try it out at the convention in Florida.
At the convention, Tucker won the Overall Male Child Actor award and received 15 callbacks from top agents.
After the convention, the Meeks starting getting calls from casting agents from around the world. Pretty soon, Tucker had an agent and several auditions for both film and television work. Tucker is represented by J Pervis Talent in the Southeast and by CESD in New York and Los Angeles.
Earlier this year, Tucker received an audition request from the casting director of “The Santa Con,” which is directed by and stars Melissa Joan Hart of “Melissa and Joey” and a host of recognizable actors and actresses from television, including Barry Watson of “Hart of Dixie,” Scott Grimes of “Party of Five,” John Ratzenberger from “Cheers,” Jaleel White from “Family Matters” and Melissa Sagemiller of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
“‘The Santa Con’ filmed in Connecticut, so we were fortunate that he was asked to send a taped audition,” Lani said. “As with every audition, Tucker works hard and has a lot of fun, but once it’s submitted, we rarely give it another thought.”
That “submit it and forget it” attitude is part of the Meeks’ efforts to keep Tucker grounded, Lani said.
The Meeks were on vacation when they got the call that Tucker had won the part of Billy in “The Santa Con,” which has already been listed by the New York Times as one of the top five holiday movies to watch this year.
“We packed up and headed to Connecticut for several weeks for filming,” Lani said. “Tucker’s younger brother, Hudson also has a small part in one of the scenes.”
Tucker said his favorite parts of starring in “The Santa Con” were being on the movie set and making lots of new friends. He said he was also impressed with the behind-the-scenes magic that happens during a film.
“It’s really cool to see how they film each scene from different angles and what the movie looks like when it’s edited together,” he said.
Tucker said he also learned a lot about special effects while filming the holiday tale.
“‘The Santa Con’ takes place during December. We filmed it during the summer, so it was really hot,” he said. “But when you use special effects, you can make it snow in July. How amazing is that?”
When Tucker wasn’t filming, the Meek family spent their downtime exploring Connecticut and the New England region.
“The northeastern corner of the U.S. is absolutely beautiful, and (Tucker and Hudson) made several new friends and learned a lot during our adventure,” Lani said.
Tucker’s acting adventure is rolling full steam ahead and with the full support of his family.
“As long as it’s fun to Tucker, we’ll support him. He is learning things like poise, confidence and how to get up and talk in front of a crowd. These are things he will use no matter what he does in the future,” his father, Derek, said.
For more information on Tucker’s adventures in acting, visit his Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/TuckerMeekActor or visit www.IMDB.me/TuckerMeek.